I have just returned home from a rather memorable night out.
Let me rephrase that. I have just returned home from a night at Rod Laver Arena, seeing Sir Elton John live as part of his Rocket Man 2011 World Tour.
I am simply in awe of his professionalism as a musician, an entertainer and simply as a charismatic human being. From the moment Elton walked onto the stage, wearing his tuxedo tails (with rhinestones, naturally) complete with an image of Krishna on his back (also in rhinestones, of course) the show was set to be a selection of his greatest hits from his extended and full career.
Patrons were not left feeling short-changed, as he covered every era, from “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Tiny Dancer” to “Norma Jean” and “Your Song”. when the opening bars of songs like “Crocodile Rock” and “Benny & The Jets” rang out, every person able to do so was lifted out of their seats, either singing along to the “Laaaa… La-La-La-La-Laaa…” parts of Crocodile Rock, drowning out the band with their enthusiasm, or simply dancing in the aisles.
Elton is currently 64 years young, and as such, I was expecting what I would usually see with older Rockers, and that is, many songs transposed to a lower octave, as their vocals simply cannot keep thrashing out the tunes, or perhaps slower, jazzier versions of hits (AC/DC dropped a few songs down a few keys, as Brian is simply getting too old to screech for 3.5 hours a night every night for 3 years on tour, which one would argue is fair enough, considering he is also around the 60 years young marker)
I was, however, surprised to see (or hear, rather) that Elton did not transpose anything from their original key or octave, performing in pitch-perfect tone for the entire evening, not a single dud-note to be heard! His backing band was second to none, and as tight as a drum. One would be forgiven for thinking they were possibly miming from a backing tape, however everything synced up, even during the improv sections, so this was clearly not the case. To play for a full 2.5 hours, and to then do an encore is simply amazing, and goes to show that Sir Elton John still has a good 20-30 years left in him, without any doubt!
In the days of auto-tuners, vocal effects, post-mixing and computerised recording, it is always refreshing to hear a true artist performing live, and blowing all of the modern ‘musicians’ out of the water, without the need for smoke & mirrors, just good old-fashioned talent.
Elton’s music is definitely infectious, and although people associate some of their life memories to various songs, causing these songs to be ‘frozen in time’ along with a certain event, Elton’s music could arguably be considered by many as timeless.
Although Elton does not write the lyrics, rather leaving this task to Bernie Taupin (who remains out of the public eye), Elton creates the music set the mood, to convey the emotion and the story contained within Bernie’s lyrics. Without the dulcet melodies, these songs would not be remembered as the timeless hits that they so rightfully are. If this composing team was not accidentally introduced one day at their place of employment, so much of the music we know would not exist, or at the very least, would not exist in its current form.
A night that will not soon be forgotten. Here’s to the next 30 years of Elton John!