Elton Is Still Standing (Better Than He Ever Did)

I went to see Elton John on his recent “greatest hits” tour and watched a 68 year-old man play with a lot more energy and vigor than most teenagers display. His voice sounded just like it always had and he leaped up from his piano bench after every number to fire up the capacity crowd to receive much deserved applause. The crowd varied in age but still mostly older people attended who would remember Elton in the 70’s when his music was ubiquitous. I have never been much of a fan, I own Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Tumbleweed Connection and Greatest Hits Volume I, a thin collection which barely scratches the surface of Elton John’s output. When I became seriously interested in music, Elton was charting with songs like Nikita and I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That which failed to make much of an impression. In concert he skipped about a decade the period between and Sad Songs (Say So Much) in 1984 and picked things up again with Believe in 1995. He wisely stuck to his prime 70’s singles but opened with Funeral For A Friendd which was a dramatic and effective album cut that set the tone for a musical trip down memory lane. The highlight for my wife was during the encore when Elton John performed music from The Lion King which she felt the strongest connection to and I noticed a lot of younger fans perk up during that song too. The most recent song he performed in the set list came from his collaboration with Leon Russell Hey Ahab and nothing from Elton’s most recent work, The Diving Board (2013) made it into the show. It’s absence is another indicator of how the industry has changed. Elton John has more than enough back catalog to tour several times without repeating too much but as a music fan it still feels odd to me that an artist ignores his newest album. To be fair, no one in the audience knew or cared about the lack of new songs and Hey Ahab caused lines at the bathroom so Sir Elton knows the reality of the industry he once dominated. But as the video montage played behind him and showed his past mixed with his present it’s clear that Elton John has other concerns than who is buying his records. He is a father of two children at quite an advanced age I can tell you its hard enough at my age and I’m quite a bit younger than Elton. I felt like I was watching a man who is content with his life and place in the world and when he told the crowd he fed off of our energy I tended to believe him. I wish I could maintain that much energy and enthusiasm for two and half hours. Is it too late to take up the piano?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s