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Reminder: Billy Joel’s Thirteen Show “Run” at Madison Square Garden is a Lie

Rob Slater | July 11, 2017

Photo credit:  Bruce Gilbert (Newsday)

In January of 2015, Billy Joel anointed himself the most powerful man to ever take the stage at Madison Square Garden to celebrate his "record-breaking" thirteenth show at the New York arena, shattering the record of twelve also held by Joel. 

This is all fine, I suppose. Joel got himself another banner jammed into the crowded rafters of Madison Square Garden (no thanks to the Knicks) and everyone stood and politely applauded for playing one show per month after signing a lifetime contract with MSG in January of 2014. 

But is this really a true "run"? Absolutely not. 

Beginning July 21, Phish will play thirteen shows at The Garden over the course of seventeen days and neither another artist or sports team will even attempt to sniff the inside of the arena during that span. That is a run and one that should be acknowledged by the venue at its conclusion. 

I can't help but think about this tweet from Tom Marshall back on New Year's Eve in 2013, when it appeared as if Phish flustered Joel by booking The Garden first (there are a few very unconfirmed shots at Phish credited to Joel, but that appears to be the internet being the internet). Joel was instead relegated to playing Barclays Center in Brooklyn that year and returned to The Garden later in January for an extravagant two-show run over six days. 

Maybe the upcoming Baker's Dozen run is Phish's way of pulling ever-so-tighter to Joel's all-time record of shows at The Garden while tying his number for "longest run by as single artist." Or maybe it's just the band wanting to do something different this summer. I suspect, cheekily, that it's a little bit of both. 

Either way, by August 6 we should all applaud the real record holders.