Live Review: Elton John in Bridgeport, CT
After spending several previous days sequestered in the confines of the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT, practicing with his band, Sir Elton John opened his latest round of tour dates Nov. 8, this time promoting the 40th Anniversary of his seminal "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" album.
Judging from the demographic of fans who packed the arena, many probably recall first unsheathing the colorful double album when it hit stores and turntables back in 1973. Those first-generation Elton John devotees who have picked up or downloaded "GYBR's" diverse material were not left wanting, as the artist performed no fewer than nine of its 17 cuts this evening.
Opening as he has for many years with "Funeral For a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding" gave the sound crew a chance to tweak the instruments and vocals to perfection as each line of lyrics emanated clearly, and every guitar hook, drum fill and bass run punched through the mix.
It may have gone unnoticed by the audience, but a few songs into the show, Sir Elton confided that he was "freaking out a bit," because he was already starting to lose his voice. This may have been a matter of oversensitivity on the artist's part, because he continued strongly for the remainder of the show, which clocked in at just over two-and-a-half hours, encompassing 28 songs.
Ranking No. 91 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, "GYBR" yielded four successful singles: "Candle in the Wind," "Bennie and the Jets," "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" and the title track. Sir Elton enlisted the willing audience to sing along during the falsetto sections on that one, and they responded in kind drawing broad smiles from Elton and guitarist Davey Johnstone.
More interesting were a few of the deeper cuts he selected to perform for the 40th Anniversary Tour. "Gray Seal" reveled in its complexity with upbeat verses, hard-hitting choruses and its quirky instrumental breaks, while "All the Girls Love Alice," was delivered note-perfect -- a naughty, pumped up rocker featuring Johnstone on the signature lead.
It is hard to appreciate "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting," without its companion lead-in, "Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock & Roll)," so Elton completed the package, driving the crowd into a frenzy before heading off stage briefly ahead of the encore. (He had reportedly not performed the former since 1974.)
It's safe to say that most of the audience probably did not turn out to hear new material, so Sir Elton was obliging. He kept his sampling of songs from "The Diving Board" to a minimum, using the upcoming Veterans Day holiday to showcase "Oceans Away," a tribute to the rapidly thinning ranks of World War military survivors.
He also premiered the alluring new single "Voyer" for the Park City crowd.
Sir Elton plucked "Hey Ahab" from his 2010 collaboration "The Union," with Leon Russell, and went deep into his catalog for "Holiday Inn," perhaps as a tribute to the local Bridgeport establishment that served as temporary lodging for his band and crew during the prior week of tour preparation.
Two of his extended numbers, "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" were well received, and Elton opted for a short version of "Rocket Man," which served as an extended jam running in excess of 10 minutes during a couple of previous tours.
With all of the stellar backing musicians and singers on board including long-time bandmates Johnstone and drummer Nigel Olsson, as well as the mother/daughter team of Rose and Lisa Stone (of the Sly & The Family Stone), the highpoint of the show came when Elton sent them all off stage for a break.
His solo rendition of "The One" was packed with expression and emotion as he crescendoed to its conclusion pumping the Yamaha grand piano for all it was worth. Among the other well-played hits were "Crocodile Rock," "Levon," "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters," and his obligatory finale, "Your Song."
Elton John zigzags across the country on his current tour ending back in New York City for a two-night stand at Madison Square Garden December 3 and 4, before jetting off to Moscow, Paris, Norway and Lithuania. The tour resumes in 2014, taking the piano man from Canada, back to the UK and across Europe engaging audiences through next summer.
12 - Boston, MA - TD Garden
14 - Washington, D.C. - Verizon Center
16 - Atlanta, GA - Philips Arena
18 - Erie, PA - Erie Insurance Arena
22 - Saint Paul, MN - Xcel Energy Center
23 - Lincoln, NE - Pinnacle Bank Arena
24 - St. Louis, MO - Chaifetz Arena
27 - Philadelphia, PA - Wells Fargo Center
29 - Detroit, MI - Joe Louis Arena
30 - Rosemont, IL - Allstate Arena
3, 4 - New York, NY - Madison Square Garden
6 - Moscow, Russia - Crocus City Hall
7 - Kazan, Russia - Tatneft Arena
9-11 - Paris, France - Olympia
13 - Ovik, Sweden - Friends Arena
14 - Oslo, Norway - Oslo Spektrum Arena
16 - Brussels, Belgium - Palais 12
18 - Prague, Czech Republic - O2 Arena
19 - Kaunas, Lithuania - Zalgiris Arena
5 - Montreal, Quebec - Bell Centre
6 - Toronto, Ontario - Air Canada Centre
21 - Manchester, England - Leigh Sports Village
24 - Nottingham, England - Capital FM Arena
29 - Colchester, England - Weston Homes Community Stadium
6 - Halle, Germany - Gerry Weber Stadium
10 - Fulda, Germany - Domplatz
11 - Dresden, Germany - Theaterplatz vor der Semperoper
19 - Mainz, Germany - Zollhafen
20 - Monchengladbach, Germany - Warsteiner HockeyPark
23 - Lorrach, Germany - Stimmen Festival
19 - Paris, France - Bercy