After spending five-days surrounded by hipsters catching buzz bands at South By Southwest in Austin, it was like traveling to another planet to catch Elton John’s greatest hits tour Friday at the Wells Fargo Center.
After catching the brilliant tunesmith on more than a few occasions, the solace was that perhaps I would see John through a new pair of eyes, since my 12-year old daughter Jillian, who is studying piano, was along for the ride.
Jillian certainly lowered the average age of the largely sit-down collection of baby boomers yelping for songs that triggered memories of their long gone youth.
John failed to disappoint. The pop-rock icon rendered an array of hits, as expected, such as ‘Rocket Man,’ Levon’ and of course, ‘Philadelphia Freedom,’
“I’m so glad I wrote that,” John said of the latter.
Sir Elton turned 64 Friday so he played a snippet of the Beatles ‘When I’m 64.’ Cute.
John and special guest Leon Russell performed together for about 40 minutes rendering songs from their ‘Union’ collaboration. It was a nice change-up experiencing the deep, moving tunes but the capacity crowd didn’t feel the same way. John/Russell’s 40 minute set prompted many fans to hit the concession stands. It’s a shame since the venerable piano men poured considerable emotion into their songs.
John came back with another batch of hits after Russell exited. ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ ‘Sad Songs’ and ‘Burn Down the Mission’ were among the cuts that sated the crowd.
The playful ‘Crocodile Rock’ helped raise the roof. It was nice to see John in great form as he approaches his twilight years. But it was a treat to experience the set with my Fiona Apple/Lily Allen loving daughter. She had the chance to catch a unique musical personality have his way with 20,000 people.
Jillian, who stood against the stage, was riveted by John’s keyboard virtuosity. She was even more excited when John’s guitarist Davey Johnston flicked his pick her way, after rendering ‘Crocodile Rock.’
The cameraperson, which featured Jillian on Arenavision, gave her the set list, which John signed before launching into the finale, ‘Your Song.’
That was wonderful but it pales compared to his gorgeous version of ‘Tiny Dancer,’ which always played in my head when Jillian was four-years old. John’s music, thanks in part to ace lyricist Bernie Taupi,n is as moving as ever. John is an aging legend, who still has it.