Saturday, November 23, 2013

Elton John in concert: He's still standing, better than he ever did

Thanks to the generosity of my son, who surprised me with a ticket for a FLOOR SEAT in the 16th row, I got to see Elton John in concert for the the first time in over a decade.  I wasn't close enough to even think of angling for an autograph, and unfortunately I have not yet upgraded to a phone with zoom-lens capability, so I didn't get any really good pictures, but I was near enough to the stage to get a good view of Elton* as he sat at the piano doing his Elton Thing, singing with power and expression and playing piano with the sureness and virtuosity of someone who's been doing it, and doing it well, for four and a half decades.

Yeah, that's something to think about.  The man who still rocks "Rocket Man" and belts out "I'm Still Standing" better than he ever did, the man who amazed us time and again with his agile shifts between making the auditorium reverberate with the power of his vocals and moving us emotionally with deeply soulful ballads, is sixty-seven years old.  Why did that sound so much older when I was just a kid?

And yes, he did sing "Candle in the Wind."

Elton performed many, many 70s classics for his older fans (though I heard from at least one twenty-something fan that they, too, love Elton's early work) mixed in with a few tunes from the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, including a couple of pieces from his latest album.  Elton introduced "Oceans Away" with the observation that next year marks the hundredth anniversary of the First World War, along with remarks about the horror of war and the courage of those who, for whatever reasons, find themselves in the midst of fighting them.

As one of the many people in this state who worked and advocated for marriage equality, I found Elton's performance of "Believe," from one of my favorite albums, Made in England, especially moving.

Love is simple
Hate breeds
Those who think difference
Is the child of disease


Without love
I wouldn't believe
In anything that lives and breathes
Without love
I'd have no anger
I wouldn't believe
In the right to stand here
Without love
I wouldn't believe
I couldn't believe in you
And I wouldn't believe in me
Without love

For me, the highlight of the evening came not from hearing this or that favorite song, as much as I enjoyed hearing and singing along with my favorites, but from something Elton said several times over the course of the evening:  "I am the happiest man on Earth.  I am the luckiest man in the world.  I am blessed."  This sentiment was echoed in the slide show accompanying "Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road," an artistic overview of Elton's life and career, culminating in a wedding cake with two tuxedoed grooms and, atop a blooming flower, a photograph of Elton and David's sons.

This is a man at peace with himself and with his life and with his work.  Being there to see that, to feel the sincerity and happiness in his words, seeing Elton as happy offstage as he is amazing onstage, really made the concert a memorable experience for me.

Here's the playlist for the November 22, 2013 concert at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota:

  • Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
  • Benny and the Jets
  • Candle in the Wind
  • Grey Seal
  • Levon
  • Tiny Dancer
  • Holiday Inn
  • Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
  • Believe
  • Philadelphia Freedom
  • Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road
  • Rocket Man
  • Hey Ahab
  • I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues
  • The One
  • Oceans Away
  • Someone Saved My Life Tonight
  • Sad Songs Say So Much
  • All the Young Girls Love Alice
  • Home Again
  • Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me
  • I'm Still Standing
  • The Bitch is Back
  • ? - An Elton John song I didn't recognize?! - Okay, the man's developed a considerable body of work over the past 45 years.  I suppose it's possible. ;-)  Anyway, Elton rocked it, whatever it was.
  • Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting


  • Your Song
  • Crocodile Rock

If I find good videos from the concert, I will post them in the comments on this note.  Meanwhile, you'll have to take my word for it that the Captain is still FANTASTIC.

Also, I do plan to upgrade to a smartphone sometime soon, so if anyone knows of a Bic Lighter app for smartphone, suitable for waving in the air at a concert during the slow songs, that'd be great.

* That is, when everyone in front of me wasn't standing and dancing and singing along with Sir Elton.