LIVE: Elton John @ SPAC, 9/4/11

Elton John
Elton John

No doubt about it. Composer, singer, pianist and showman extraordinaire Elton John is a superstar. And his recent visit to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center proved it once again in spades.

There was no opening act to speak of. The two cellists that opened the show with a prelude melody were part of Elton John’s band. And when they finished their duet, Sir Elton came out to be greeted by the audience’s thunderous applause, whistles and screams.

The all ages show was easily 20,000-strong with grandmothers standing next to daughters and granddaughters all singing along with the songs.

He may be British-born and 64 years old, but John has helped shape American popular music through his tens of mega Top 40 hits (“Tiny Dancer,” “Rocket Man,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” etc.) for more than four decades.

The on-and-off rain came down – with thunderstorm rumblings off in the distance – all night long, but that didn’t dampen the audience’s love for Elton John and his music. On the amphatheater stage, John and his bandmates transcended the evening’s bad weather to deliver the highlight concert of the summer season.

Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Suzanna Lourie’s review at The Saratogian
Michael Janairo’s review at The Times Union
Excerpt from David Singer’s review at The Daily Gazette: “The great ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ did not come close to its proper greatness, neither rising nor falling at any point. But he got underneath ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’ to genuinely lift the band and crowd for the first time. It would have been nice to see him do this a few more times through the show. The tonkish ‘Honky Cat’ hopped nicely, a few dancers bopping inside the sold-out pavilion. He spotlighted his veteran guitarist Davey Johnstone at this point, a nice moment of recognition. John moved into the latter part of the show with classics like the beautiful ‘Daniel,’ a pretty cool ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ ‘The Bitch Is Back,’ ‘Crocodile Rock’ and ‘Your Song,’ his first hit some 40 years ago. John’s best moments were without the band, when he shrunk the sound — and the venue — down to his voice and piano, as he did with ‘Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.’ His voice often strained under the weight of the band; alone, without competing for space, he relaxed and didn’t rush. It seemed the quieter he got, the more exciting the music. Unfortunately, there was not much of that. Instead, they spent more effort over-selling the rock tunes.”

Elton John's Band
Elton John's Band

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