Errols Weekly Music Update.

March 17, 2011

Concert Review: Elton John at Madison Square Garden on March 16, 2011

“There’s No Place Like Home”

Elton John received a hero’s welcome last night at his “home away from home”- Madison Square Garden-his 61st appearance there, a place that he believes is the “greatest stage” in the entire world to perform on. As I have always maintained, walking down the corridor to enter The Garden is really like entering the “Land of Oz.” Elton performed his magic and left everyone with the feeling that there is no place like home. I will equate his show to that of “The Wizard of Oz” whereby I felt like there were moments of “black and white” and also moments of amazing “color.” Remember in the movie before Dorothy opened her door after it had landed on a witch where the background was in black and white, followed by the grandiose colors that opened up a whole new world once she opened that door? Both parts were magnificent, but you know that the color represents the “deserts” and the black & white parts are the “meat and potatoes” portion of the show. And I would venture to say that most of the audience at the Garden had a sweet tooth, clamoring for that extra slice of pie. There were moments where I felt like I was being lifted off the ground (“Candle in the Wind” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me”) and there were also times whereby I “wasn’t in the moment.” This is not to say that Elton did not give it his all, no just the opposite-he is an amazing pianist and singer- and like my wife stated-“I love to watch him play.”

A few months back, our whole family was in the car listening to the radio when a commercial came on and stated that Elton John would be coming to The Garden to perform all his hits. My wife and I looked at each other and said –“We’re going!!” So this would be the first time that my immediate entire family would be going to a show together. Since the boys and I have been to a few shows together (like last Friday night when my oldest and I went to see The Allman Brothers at the Beacon) we decided to let my wife in on our “pre-game” festivities. This always includes a visit to our favorite pizza parlor in all of New York City-“Freddie and Peppers”-basically located across the street from the back of The Beacon Theater. (Yes we trekked backed up-town from Grand Central and then headed back down to the Garden after having our pizza). Now I guess the build-up about this place was so great that my wife walked away with a feeling that it was “good” but it wasn’t the “greatest.” My oldest son was shaking his head as we headed down to the Garden but we shook it off because we were entering the “Mecca” of all buildings to see a show-the legendary Madison Square Garden. Maybe it was due to the e-mail that many of us received that said to be at your seats by 8:00 p.m. because there was no opening act but I had never seen that many people entering the Garden last night and we were there around 7:45. We made our way all the way to the top-section 421-and yes we did the “tourist” thing by asking a woman behind us to get a family portrait as we couldn’t wait for Elton to take the stage.

The crowd was a mixture of seasoned veterans as well as plenty of rookies. As Elton came out from behind the keyboard section and walked out on stage the Garden erupted into an appreciative applause filled with admiration and joy as we all couldn’t wait to follow him down the yellow brick road. The stage setting was very “spacious” in the sense that there was not an over-load of equipment or stage props-it included Elton’s grand piano to the left side of the stage (for most of the audience) and towards the middle of the stage was a microphone for the lead guitarist. The bass guitarist stayed mainly behind Elton most of the night while there was a set of drums and percussion for the two drummers. To the far right (or left depending on where you were sitting) there were 4 microphones for the lovely ladies who provided the most excellent background vocals for most of the songs that were performed. There were two “HD quality” screens on each side of the stage that highlighted Elton and his band mates for the entire night. At the front edge of the stage there were lighting fixtures that illuminated various colors and were separated just enough to make it seem like those water fountains that spit water out where it seems the water is broken into pieces. All of this was punctuated by a massive array of circling lights (think “Hollywood”) that changed colors throughout the night. As Elton entered, he walked all around the stage waving his arms in an upward movement imploring the audience to get off its feet. As he settled in to play the piano, one could hear the beginning to one of his longest songs-“Funeral for A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” which has a great introduction as well as a middle and ending. The crowd roared with appreciation as Elton and his band ripped into “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” and even though it was a Wednesday night there were plenty that were getting a belly full of beer. This was a great “one-two punch” to start the show and I was wondering where he was going to go with the momentum and he slowed it down but not the excitement as everyone knew from the opening piano notes that “Levon” was about to sweep everyone into a nostalgic mood as the six women in front of us all went arm in arm and they swayed back & forth while singing with the same fervor as Elton- “And he shall be a Levon…And he shall be a good man.” The four back-up singers made their entrance for this song and added their sweet sound as Elton had a smoking piano solo that rocked the Garden. I looked over at my younger son who plays piano and he was awestruck on how great he played. As the song ended, there were two women in the front row that were doing the “Wayne’s World We Are Not Worthy Bow.” I was loving it. And then from my stand point of view, the show had one of those “black and white” moments as he then performed the title song from “Madman from Across The Water.” He took a chance and even though it worked, only his die-hard fans knew the song and he may have taken a cue from the Allman Brothers as the band jammed away for a really long time.  The “color” instantaneously came back as he performed “Tiny Dancer” to perfection and then made some people jump out of their seats and start dancing to “Phildadelphia Freedom.”

There was much audience participation and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” was no exception. At points, as I predicted a few weeks back, there had to be many dogs in the midtown area whose ears were hurting as many were trying to hit those high notes. “Ahhhh…Ahhhh…Ahhh” permeated every open space in the Garden but it was all good because everyone was having an excellent time. I guess since the Allman Brothers had the night off, Elton’s band wanted to show New York that it could jam with the best of them as “Rocket Man” could have given “Mountain Jam” a run for its money as far as the length of a song. As some crew members rolled out another piano to the stage, I thought that Elton was just going to switch sides and play the piano from that side of the stage but he brought out the legendary Leon Russell to play with him. By now we all know that Leon is Elton’s idol and his career has been resurrected by “The Union” which was released last Rocktober. Now for my wife, the “black and white” scene came back and she thought that they were going to play a few songs together. It went much longer than that as I believe Elton mentioned that it was Leon’s first performance on the stage at Madison Square Garden since 1971 and he told the audience he was taking time out of the “hits” to perform songs with his mentor. I thought his set with Leon was very good as there were some really good songs including “Hey Ahab.” The highlight for me during the Leon set was when Elton brought out his friend and colleague in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the legendary Gregg Allman. Since Gregg had the night off from the Beacon he came to do the Neil Young part on the beautiful song-“Gone to Shiloh.”

As Leon exited the stage, the “color” came back to the Garden as one of the highlights of the show was the performance of “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me” was perfectly executed. Again that nostalgic feeling came over the Garden as I could feel that most everyone was going back in time to that place they were when they first heard this song. “Close the door…and left me blind by the light…” The band members walked off the stage and left Elton by himself at the piano and the best part of the night was about to occur. Folks, you know how I have informed you of all those “magic” Garden moments-well the mantel space needs some more room as Elton’s “Candle in the Wind” was done so beautifully, so poignantly and the Garden became lighter as people illuminated their cell phones (instead of lighters) while drifting off to another stratosphere. Wow what a moment, it really was something to behold. From that point onwards, the yellow brick road was shining brightly as he brought down the house with some of his best songs. His piano playing was stupendous on “Burn Down The Mission” and I loved the surprisingly rocking “Bitch is Back.” Another great moment was when the crowd sang along to the classic-“Crocodile Rock”- as he stopped and let the audience do the “La…La, La, La” part and it was pure fun. This song always reminds me of my dad, as he loves this song.

Elton came back out to do one last song-“Your Song”-and melted the cold outside the Garden as that warm feeling we all had inside seem to leave our bodies and heated up this March evening, because when we all finally exited the Garden, the winter seemed to have disappeared.  Sir Elton, thank you for a very memorable evening you proved that there really is no place like home; thanks for taking us there again!!

Set List

1.       Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding

2.       Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

3.       Levon

4.       Madman Across The Water

5.       Tiny Dancer

6.      Philadelphia Freedom

7.       Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

8.      I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues

9.       Rocket Man (I Think it’s Going to be a Long, Long Time)

10.     If It Wasn’t For Bad (with Leon)

11.     Hey Ahab (with Leon)

12.     The Best Part of the Day (with Leon)

13.     Gone To Shiloh (with Leon and Gregg)

14.     Monkey Suit (with Leon)

15.     When Love Is Dying (with Leon)

16.     Never Too Old (To Hold Somebody) (with Leon)

17.     A Dream Come True (with Leon)

18.     Sad Songs (Say So Much)

Piano Solo – Elton

19.     Take Me to The Pilot

20.     Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me

21.     Candle In The Wind

22.     Burn Down The Mission

23.      Bennie And The Jets

24.     The Bitch Is Back

25.     Crocodile Rock

Encore

26.     Your Song

8 Comments »

  1. what time did he actually take the stage? was the email telling you to be there at 8 accurate?

    Comment by coach — March 19, 2011 @ 10:04 am

  2. I would say between 8:10 and 8:20 p.m. he will go on

    Comment by ea0217 — March 19, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

    • What time does the show end??? I’m going Sunday. Thanks

      Comment by lori — March 19, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

  3. How long was the concert? what time did u get out

    Comment by maryanna — March 19, 2011 @ 10:16 pm

    • It ended around 11:15 p.m.

      Comment by ea0217 — March 20, 2011 @ 8:46 am

  4. Hi… I’m going tonight and my seats are behind the stage. Is it set up so that I will not be obstructed? Thanks so much

    Comment by elena — March 20, 2011 @ 9:11 am

  5. I am from Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada – my husband and I travelled to Duluth Minnesota to see Elton this past Friday night at the AMSOIL Arena…..FANTASTIC show…I still fill up with emotion when I think about it! I’m almsot 50 years old and to think I actually got to “cross one off my bucket list” already!!
    ELTON JOHN ROCKS and to anyone out there who holds a ticket to see an upcoming show….you will not be disappointed!!

    Comment by Sharon — May 10, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

  6. Did you know Elton is back in Vegas starting 9/28? Its not Red Piano its a million dollar piano. Oh how times have changed.
    Hopefully the tixs are not jsut for millionaires

    Comment by Vegas Show — June 22, 2011 @ 12:59 pm


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