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Elton John, Bidding Farewell to the Stage

Ellen Levitt

Posted on March 10, 2019 17:48

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Elton John is on his final worldwide concert tour. I saw his second Brooklyn show on March 9th and it was a wonderful tribute to his lengthy career.

What expectations do you have when you attend concerts? Do you want to experience the artist's or band's biggest hits, or a mixture of hits and obscurer numbers? Do you want to hear performances that hew closely to well-known recordings or more daring renditions with jamming involved? Do you want the old or the new?

Elton John is in the midst of his final worldwide concert tour, Farewell Yellow Brick Road and I attended the second night of his stand at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. He played an energetic, one set (no intermissions!) show that heavily favored his hits of the 1970s. The audience was highly appreciative, cheering him on greatly. But it was more than lavish and slavish, more than just rote recitations of mostly familiar songs. 

Some of the songs were rendered pretty much as the general audience would know them but others featured extended musical jams. At least one, "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," was played in a different key than the original (probably to make it easier for him to sing, since his voice is huskier now). He spoke before several songs, in an intimate, conversational tone that was endearing. 

Perhaps one of the most endearing bits was his thanking us all for the "kindness you've shown me" over the years. It is appropriate for a farewell tour, obviously, but not everyone would make such a statement. He also spoke about aspects of his songwriting process with longtime partner Bernie Taupin, describing how he envisions songs "like a movie or video" in his head. And he also thanked his band members, some of who have played with him for decades (Nigel Olsson, Davey Johnstone amongst them). It is telling that while the focus has always been on him, some of the band members have been intrinsic parts of the music for many years.

I'd seen Elton John once before in concert, more than twenty years ago, but I was even more impressed this time around. It was also interesting to me because I brought along my teenaged daughters and my older cousin, who had never seen EJ live before. They enjoyed it and were swept up in the spirit of the performance. 

Many years ago EJ was known for big glamorous spectacles and outrageous clothing and accessories; for this show he did change jackets a few times and they were colorful but not too wild. His piano was arranged on a low platform on the stage, and it did move from stage left to stage right a few times. It was lovely to watch closeup videos of his hands at the keys. 

I especially enjoyed his renditions of "Tiny Dancer," "Border Song," "Levon," "All the Girls Love Alice," "Bennie and the Jets" and "Daniel." (I do wish he'd played "Madman Across the Water.") At this concert I realized how many of his songs are in C or F major. 

Did EJ meet our expectations? Very much so. But it's bittersweet, knowing it's a swansong. 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on March 10, 2019 17:48

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Source: CBS 8

It's the British royals versus the press - again - and Prince Harry thinks enough is enough.

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