Reviews – Elton John And His Band @ Rod Laver Arena 18/11/2012

In 1972 Elton John’s Rocket Man launched into the stratosphere and 40 years later has landed on the Rod Laver Arena stage in Melbourne.

Elton returned to Australia as part of a worldwide tour to celebrate the 40th anniversary release of his hit classic, Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be a Long, Long Time).

First act of the night was the sultry 22-year-old German chanteuse, Schmidt. She performed cabaret-esque covers, as well as her own tracks.

Following on was Croation duo, Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, who perform as the 2Cellos. The lads are known for their fast-paced genre-mixing playing of the cello. The lads performed covers including Highway to Hell and Smooth Criminal with such ferocity, Hauser kept breaking strings on his bow.

Towards the end of their act Davey Johnstone, guitarist for The Elton John Band, joined 2Cellos on stage. Kim Bullard (keyboards), John Mahon (Percussion, vocals), Nigel Olsson (Drums and vocals), and four wonderful back up singers, including Sly and the Family Stone’s original singer, Rose Stone, amongst others, rounded up the band.

Elton’s choice of attire for the night was squarish blue glasses and a sparkly blue outfit bearing the words ‘Madman Across the Water’ (his fourth studio release).

And boy what an entertainer Elton was for the almost three hours he performed with his band! He definitely did not disappoint as Bob Dylan did when he performed at the same venue in April last year. Unlike Dylan’s mumbling and bumbling performance, Elton sounded as good as he did 40 years ago with renditions of the best of his best.

Gen-Y Almost Famous soundtrack and scene-stealer favourite Tiny Dancer was performed early on, with Elton dedicating the song to all the ladies in the audience.

This kindness and sincere love for his fans is what touched me the most. After each track he performed, he stood up from his piano stool and pointed to the audience mouthing thank you. The audience returned his compassion each time with a standing ovation. Additionally, he introduced Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters with a spiel about the weirdest show to date for him – performing at a 9/11 benefit gig at Madison Square Gardens for victims, their families, the NYPD, the fireman, and the NY public.

He also showed his love for our country by playing Waltzing Matilda on his plain black piano before segueing into crowd favourite Crocodile Rock. The audience got up on their feet dancing and singing along. Following on was Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) in which Elton did a call-and-response with the audience with a bunch of yeah’s.

For me Crocodile Rock brought back memories of learning the lyrics to Crocodile rock in primary school – my introduction to his extensive collection of pop gems. I was also introduced to releases I’d never heard before.

The vocals were enhanced with visuals adorning the backdrop, from flickering candles for Candle in the Wind and a starry night sky for Rocket Man (It’s Going To Be a Long, Long Time).

Towards the end of the night Elton did something I’ve never seen any other act do live. He went along the front of the stage and signed autographs on various items for the fans at the front. The room filled with jealousy as patrons with Gold and Silver tickets wished they were the ones getting up close and personal with the star.

With Melbourne not being on the original tour plan, this moment of compassion capped off the excitement of the night! Unsure whether he will return to Australia, I suggest you see him if he is lucky enough to return, your money will be well spent!

The extravaganza concluded with The Circle Of Life, the screens adorned with clips from the Lion King.

Elton’s performance capped off a week which saw two of the biggest bands in the world, Radiohead and Coldplay, hitting our shores.


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