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Volume 34
Issue 39
 
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Sir Elton John rocks Seattle Weekend concert sells out
Sir Elton John rocks Seattle Weekend concert sells out
by Lorelei Quenzer - SGN A&E Writer

Elton John

September 22 & 23 @ Key Arena


What? You didn't see Elton John? The Out and married hit maker, who until last weekend hadn't been to Seattle in eight years? You had two chances and you still didn't make it? Damn, girlfriend! You missed one of the best concerts of the year so far! I kinda hate to rub salt in the wound, but Sir Elton played practically every hit he ever made, plus a half-dozen songs from his new album. Both shows were sold-out. That's just over 30,000 fans over two nights of nearly identical concerts. It was cray-zee!

The Seattle Gay News staff had it covered from all angles, in attendance at both shows. I went on Saturday, and from the first song ("Funeral for a Friend") it was clear that this was going to be a remarkable night. Did I mention that John played everything? He pulled "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" out of mothballs, and treated us to a stunning rendition of "I Want Love." No, he didn't perform "Candle In the Wind." That would have made headlines everywhere, since that song has been retired since the death of Princess Diana. And he left the duets behind. There are just so many hits to choose from, I'd be hard pressed to choose which song I'd omit for one he didn't play.

Clearly missing from the concert were the outrageous costumes, and I have to admit that I'm glad. It's a testament to John's growth, personally and as an artist; he's obviously more comfortable in his own skin. Oh, he's still rock-and-roll, pounding on the keyboards in embroidered frockcoats and colored sunglasses. But this time around the music is making all of the noise. There were several times during the nearly three-hour set when even the stage was bare; just a man (the man, if you will) and a piano.

When he did take time out from singing he spoke about the music. He referred to his writing partnership with Bernie Taupin, pointing out that they have the luxury of choosing to record songs for themselves, instead of for their label or what their label deems marketable. That garnered a lot of applause. About mid-way through the show he introduced songs from The Captain and the Kid, his autobiographical album released last Tuesday. The album might have been brand new, but there were folks in the crowd who already had those songs memorized. It was a large block of new songs, kind of hard to take in all at once, but John made it easier by explaining the album's relevance and each song's inspiration.

It's clear that hearing certain performers live is about more than just hearing some good songs. It's even more than just nostalgia, as I witnessed a lot of raw emotion during Saturday's extra-long set. Even I, your stalwart critic, got a little teary hearing "Daniel," one of my all-time faves. (Hey, it makes me cry any time, anywhere, and it has since I was ten. Gimme a break.) But a little waterworks is the mild face of fandom. On Friday the Seattle Gay News staff heard from a Gay gentleman who would be attending with his best friend and wife; they had named their child "Levon." Now that's a fan. I never did find out if Levon was a boy or a girl.

With the concert winding down, the first five or so rows on the floor literally unhinged their seats and rushed the stage. Friday night's security staff tried to get the folks back to their places, but by Saturday night security had mellowed along with the crowds, and those on the floor were left to defend their own seats. By the time John made it to "Crocodile Rock" there was sheer pandemonium as he leapt atop his piano and egged us on to sing the falsetto La-la-la-la-la's. And just as I predicted in my preview, he closed with frenetic renditions of "The Bitch is Back" and "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)." When John returned to the stage for an encore the crowd was patient - well, mostly - as he took time to sign memorabilia for his front-row fans. Then he cranked up the wattage for "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me," dedicating his final tune of the evening, "Your Song," to all of his supporters.

If I have to nitpick (and being a critic implies criticism, right?) then I wish Sir Elton had brought along stronger backup singers to fill in the high notes. It was especially obvious in "Rocket Man," with its over-repeated chorus, that the 59-year-old singer doesn't do the upper register anymore. The band did a good job with the chorus of "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," which has a complex vocal arrangement, but I really felt the need for support with songs like "Tiny Dancer" and "Bennie and the Jets." The hook for those songs is in the falsetto, and the audience missed it. But as I said, that's a quibble. John's energy and enthusiasm for the material was contagious. This one's going on my top-ten list this year!

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