Elton John – LG Arena, Brimingham

elton john

Elton John is back. A follow up to 2009’s Red Piano tour, and his voice is much better than the pneumonia battling performance witnessed at the Queen’s diamond jubilee performance.

His support act Croatian Youtube stars 2 Cellos are barely through four songs when Elton’s band (including two of the original band members from the 70’s and a founder of Sly and the Family Stone) sneak on stage before Elton himself parks up at his sleek black piano and launches into a rousing version of ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’ alongside the young cellists.

Before he can say hello he informs the audience of the football score, a topic which is mentioned through the show as a man runs up on stage frequently to update the 65 year old. This is also the first night on the tour he hasn’t referred to England manager Roy Hodgson as a ‘tw*t’.

Elton John Live in BirminghamOccasionally he’d give us an insight into the lesser known tracks like Mona Lisa’s and Madhatters (which is sung at the 9/11 tribute concert) and Hey Ahab from the 2010 album he made with Leon Russell. Others from the forty+ years of hits get a cheer within the first twenty seconds.

Even though these songs have been the soundtrack to anyone under fifty’s life, they sound completely fresh. Songs like Tiny Dancer, Sacrifice and Rocket Man turn into eight minute showcases from some of the best musicians in the country. They start off softly, with just Elton’s booming vocals and skilful piano playing before guitar and percussion’s come in, and then the addition of four gospel-esque songs, and the return of the cellists.

The former Reg Dwight’s voice isn’t quite its Captain Fantastic best, the noticeably high notes of Bennie and the Jets and Candle in the Wind lowered to a deeper richer tone he’s adopted in recent years.

There’s jazz, there’s blues, there’s ballads and there’s rock n roll. The end portion of the show is dedicated to the lively songs we sometimes forget he wrote in the sea of ‘Daniels’ and ‘Nikitas’.

‘I’m still standing’, ‘Bitch is back’ and ‘Crocodile rock’ end the show with a bang, and if the crowd look like they’re enjoying the show, it’s not half as much as Elton and his band are. He ends with Your Song and thanks the crowd like he really means it.

A diva is the last thing you see in these 180 minutes, unlike the stereotype un-helped by his ‘Tantrums and Tiara documentary’, instead is someone who admits he has the best job in the world and is still doing fifty years later because he truly loves it. It shows.

Pictures copyright Elton John