Rocket Man fires up

Last night’s Elton John concert in Canberra had something for everyone. Lots of the hits, which was to be expected on this tour that was branded as the Rocket Man tour, celebrating forty years since the song was released (two years after Bowie’s Space Oddity, which is a completely different kettle of fish.) This set up an expectation that the rest of the show would be full of all of the other hits, too, and they didn’t disappoint.

Being not so interested in hits, I was still delighted that he swerved sideways and included Tiny Dancer and Levon from Madman across the water; Grey Seal from Yellow Brick Road; and the opening bars of Are you ready for love? brought tears to my eyes. I played this 45 single obsessively in my flat on Old South Head Road in Bondi, but haven’t played it for years. I will dig it out this weekend.

The hits came thick and fast – Yellow Brick Road, Saturday Night, Bennie and the Jets, I’m still standing, Sad songs, I guess that’s why they call it the blues … and it made me wonder whether it was a Clayton’s farewell tour. I have had the good fortune to see Elton live four times now, mainly in the early to mid 1980s – once with the full band like last night; once with percussionist, Ray Cooper; and once solo; and then last night’s show. All were excellent – Elton’s and the band’s musicianship is stunning, his recall of lyrics faultless – and although last night the voice was somewhat faded and he was backed by five singers, it was still a great show. They even managed to fix the sound distortions caused by the flaky wind fairly quickly. (But the best show was the gig with Ray Cooper.)

There was no standing on the piano and he was certainly moving carefully. But however hackneyed it sounds, his music has played a big part in my life’s soundtrack and I wanted to see him just once more.

Did the crowd love it? Yes. Some unexpected treats? Definitely. And I think it’ll be a long long time until I forget it.

Canberra Times review is here

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