Thursday, 12 September 2013

Piano Man - He Makes His Stand In The Auditorium


ELTON JOHN - BBC RADIO THEATRE - BROADCASTING HOUSE 
LONDON - 11TH SEPTEMBER 2013




I couldn't believe that my friend couldn't find anyone who snapped her hand off to go to this gig. 

Ok there would be a risk that it would be 'new material' heavy with Sir Elton having his umpteenth album 'The Diving Board' to plug but even so - its bloody Elton John in a tiny venue. Must admit the London sky hurling rain at me as I stomped up Regent's Street to Broadcasting House didn't lift my mood. 

Although seeing a life size Dalek and TARDIS (plus of course my good mate, Jo) inside the BBC cafe raised my spirits. Apparently Doctor 10 was amongst the celeb guests up in the balcony.



We few, we lucky few, out of the 77,000 who applied for tickets were ushered into the historic radio theatre which got a bit stuffy but with only 200 of us in there wasn't uncomfortable. 

After a mercifully brief intro by Jo Whiley (where is by crossbow when I need it?) Sir Elton took the stage in glittery jacket and crashed into 'The Bitch Is Back'. His band, seemingly led by a cross between Tom Petty, Todd Rundgren and as my pal noted, Janice from Dr Teeth's Electric Mayhem sometimes trod a bit lumpily over the songs but the sound mix was a bit rough to begin with even at the Beeb. Probably sounded better for those at home.

Wasn't expecting any "hits" but broke out into a grin when Elton hammered the chords to 'Bennie & The Jets' - a song he once claimed to hate. Likewise, I had been told to shout for 'Tiny Dancer' but he didn't need prompting. "We're being fed before a 40 minute  'here's another from my new album' famine" I thought. 

But Elton is a flippin born entertainer and pop star. 'This new album is one fo the most piano driven I've done' he told us before playing two tracks from 'The Diving Board'. Opposed to what, Sir E? All those guitar solos you're known for playing? The new tracks did push his playing to the fore, often with solo passages and felt like an attempt to do something different. 


See that guy in the white shirt right at the bottom of frame left hand side. Thats me
His voice was in pretty good shape - of course those high notes on tracks like 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' and a lovely reworking of 'Rocket Man' were handled by the backing singers. He wasn't going to do a Macca and fall flat on his face trying to jump too high but he still pulled those same classic faces when hammering out the rock n roll runs of 'Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting'.

Once the cameras had been put away (people next to us waving at them - really? really??) we got some more. i was surprised that he played some his 80's cheese but they are bloody good pop songs so why not? 

I'd never seen Elton before and I think it'd be hard to top this special experience in such a tiny venue. It was a fabulous fun show with top pop tunes - who could ask for more. And when asked about the Mercury Prize nominations he was extremely knowledgeable and interested out the acts. Which is more than you can say for most musicians his age. Or me in fact. Don't believe that excitement in new music has ever left him. 

Think footage from the show will be on the red button on your telly this weekend and on the radio player right now. You may be able to spot me 'almost dancing' at this once in a lifetime opportunity.

SETLIST:

The Bitch Is Back 
Benny And The Jets 
Tiny Dancer 
Home Again 
Oscar Wilde Gets Out 
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 
Rocket Man 
Levon 
I'm Still Standing 
Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting 
Your Song

ENCORE (not on TV\radio)

Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
Sad Songs Say So Much
Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
The New Fever Waltz

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