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Live Review: Elton John – 17th December 2015 – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, Australia

6 min read

If you are going to see someone like Elton John in concert at one point in your lifetime, then to see the iconic piano man performing his biggest and best hits from his half of a century long career is definitely the option to go with if you are presented with such an opportunity.

The megastar’s latest tour of Australia – his 17th to date – is billed as the ‘All The Hit’s tour, so fans heading along to the intimate (for Elton John standards) Hordern Pavilion in Sydney last night knew exactly what they were about to witness with the camp godfather of pop music arriving in town to glam up Sydney with an intimate showcase of his work.

The ageing hit-maker may not be the most striking of artists for today’s generation of Beliebers, Swifties or Directioners – despite the icon’s close friendship to mother monster, Lady Gaga giving him a side door entrance into today’s youthful music arena – it didn’t be evident on those in the crowd too young to have witnessed the stars peak years as they sung along with hits twice or three times their age. Despite John’s next release, Wonderful Crazy Night, set for release in the early New Year, the set was dominated by those songs that have made his a global household name.

The musician remained, for the most part, sat behind his piano as he offered a very lucky Hordern Pavilion crowd a spectacular array and generous number of career notables from the early inclusion of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Bennie and the Jets through to the captivating Candle In The Wind and remix-friendly Tiny Dancer as well as a grand, cinematic performance of Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me raising the roof of the Hordern during the middle of the show.

The stage set up was basic but the flamboyant superstar made up for the stripped back props and elaborate backdrops with a showmanship that comes from only the finest, seasoned stage performers. Dressed in black attire, complete with golden rhinestones and a striking golden logo on the back of his knee-length jacket, Elton and his band, who have been with him for many decades, kept the sold out crowd of fans engaged and thrilled for over two solid hours. It was hard to keep the audience on their feet with standing ovations being offered to the majority of those performed and from as early as the stars offer of Bennie and the Jets, while the closing segment of the show had his fans crowd the front seated areas to take photos and to get a more up-close Elton John experience. Elton was only too happy to offer the love back to his fans at every available opportunity; launching himself from his seat at the end of many songs to encourage the crowd to join in with a sing-a-long of tracks like the closing Crocodile Rock, Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting, Rocket Man and The Bitch Is Back.

While the backdrop was kept simple for the most part of the show, it came alive on some of the obvious standouts of the performance. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road took us through the years of Elton’s incredible career, right from the start; images of career highlights such as his wedding to long-time partner David Furnish and his two children appearing alongside images of his Las Vegas residency, posters of The Lion King, Billy Elliott and AIDA, as well as various props that have become symbolic with Elton and his work in the arts. As we were reminded of through his performance of the track during the early half of the set and the colorful visuals that accompanied his stellar rendition of the 1973 hit, Elton’s talents lay far more afield than simply that of a stage performer. His hits have spanned near to 50 years over dozens of studio albums, collaborative collections, film soundtracks and musical scores as well as being responsible for some of the most successful and recognizable hits of the singles 5 decades.

With the early inclusion of Candle in the Wind providing the set with one of its many tender moments and serving fans as a reminder of his talents in crafting timeless power ballads, an electrifying performance of I’m Still Standing nearing the end of the set was, in our opinion, the centerpiece of last night’s show. As visuals of piano caused havoc on the giant screen alongside moving images of the musician throughout the last 50 years, Elton played the up-tempo 80’s pop masterpiece with as more energy and enthusiasm as most acts half his age; getting every fan in the venue up on their feet and belting along with their idol to the tracks infectious beat and the bands exquisitely executed instrumentation. The musicians 80’s material was also showcased through bouncy performances of Sad Songs (Say So Much) and I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues giving fans a dip into the star’s synth driven power-pop material.

The musician was generous with his tributes to long-time songwriting partner, Bennie Taupin who John has spent 48 years writing hits alongside but, as Elton explained in the lead up to a moving performance of Your Song, has never been in the same room with during the pairs songwriting process with Bernie providing Elton with the lyrics as a patchwork for the superstar to complete his intricate musical arrangements. It was through John’s performance of hits like Daniel, Rocket Man and Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word that allowed this unique partnership to shine during the set and to remind us of the power of the duo whose success is outdone only by that of Lennon and McCartney and is reason for John’s sales of 300 million records; making Elton one of the most celebrated and successful artists in the history of music.

It was also nice to hear Elton so humble as he described his work with fellow musician Leon Russell on their 2010 collaborative release, The Union; describing the U.S artist as his idol and welcoming in one of his more recent singles, Hey Ahab to join his iconic repertoire on the road.

Last nights performance by one of the most celebrated and gifted songsmiths and stage performers in music was absolutely stellar and it was an absolute treat to have been witness to such a show within such an intimate setting by an artist who can easily fill up a stadium anywhere around the world. Elton kept his fans engaged, inspired and in full admiration of his performance, his hits and his very presence which was both humble and electric.It was a truly wonderful crazy night!

Setlist:
Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
Bennie and the Jets
Candle in the Wind
All the Girls Love Alice
Levon
Tiny Dancer
Believe
Daniel
Philadelphia Freedom
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
Hey Ahab
I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
The One
Your Song
Burn Down the Mission
Sad Songs (Say So Much)
Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word
Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
The Bitch Is Back
I’m Still Standing
Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n Roll)
Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Encore:
Crocodile Rock