Do you remember when rock was young? I don’t, sadly, I wasn’t born back then. But it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the excellence of Elton John. I was introduced to his music courtesy of my parents, and while I can’t claim to be a lifelong, die-hard fan, I can claim that I was incredibly excited when given the opportunity to see him perform.
Flanked by family members, I got inside in time for the opening bars of “Bennie and the Jets.” After finishing the song, Elton John announced to the crowd that he had a real humdinger of an illness, and it might weaken his vocal power. But frankly, I couldn’t notice. Mr. John’s vocals held together tighter than an overly-enthusiastic chokehold. His piano playing was similarly mighty, as Elton John and the band rocked and rolled through their 150-minute set, a performance that my piddly cellphone camera could not do justice for.
Shown above: a blurry photo of Elton John, or, possibly, the Loch Ness Monster.
I couldn’t help being amazed at how skillfully Elton John went from fast and energetic tunes like “Philadelphia Freedom” to slower, poignant songs like “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues.” There was also some concert-specific modification to his songs, such as a lengthy piano solo that acted as an intro to “Rocket Man.” Despite having heard these songs too many times to count, I felt as though I was hearing them for the first time all over again.
He also performed music that was a touch more recent, from the album Wonderful Crazy Night that released in February. The new tune that struck me hardest was “Looking Up,” an obscenely fun rock tune that oozed pianistic excellence and appropriately rockin’ guitar riffs and vocals.
While I’ll gladly heap praise upon Mr. John, I’d be loathe to dismiss the musical majesty of his band. Kim Bullard crushed the keyboards, Davey Johnstone tore it up on a variety of guitars, Matt Bissonette was a beast on the bass, John Mahon presente some powerful percussion, and Nigel Olsson (who was part of Elton John’s original band) slew the drums. Nigel Olsson in particular deserves credit for the amazing level of energy in his drumming. His arms were on the verge of breaking the sound barrier when the songs picked up.
Elton John and his band’s performance was, hands-down, one of the most amazing concerts I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. I couldn’t help but sing (and sometimes dance) along as the music flooded the building. There’s no denying that Mr. John is getting on in years, but seeing this performance has shown me that when it comes to music, age is just a number. Rock n’ roll may not be young anymore, but when you listen to Elton John’s tunes, it’s plain that good music is truly timeless.
*photos from EltonJohn.com