Sir Elton John performs his Million Dollar Piano Tour at the Capital FM Arena Nottingham on Tuesday 24th June 2014.
When you have been knighted, sold 300 million records and played everywhere from Madison Square Gardens to China, it was no surprise then to see Sir Elton John perfectly at ease and clearly enjoying himself before a packed crowd at Nottingham’s Capital FM Arena.
There is no doubt that he is the Rocket Man as he certainly took his fans straight into the stratosphere as he performed his greatest hits show, The Million Dollar Piano Tour.
And what a show it was. An entertainer with his longevity in the fickle world of music could easily have done a five hour set and we still would not have heard the majority of his back catalogue. Instead we were treated to two and a half hours, more than most acts could ever muster, of hit after hit after hit and a great step back in time across that Yellow Brick Road.
To mark the 40th anniversary reissue of that album, his set opened with selections from the classic double album, starting with the whole of side one. A magnificent Funeral For A Friend / Love Lies Bleeding set the bar high, the lights coming up during its atmospheric instrumental overture to reveal the band, which included long term collaborators Davy Johnstone on guitar and Nigel Olsson on drums.
Although you could still hear the emotional volcano that turned young, shy, awkward Reg Dwight into extrovert superstar Elton John, he has never seemed as comfortable in his own skin. Resplendent in a blue diamante jacket, his voice was spot on, his piano playing better than ever, and he looked particularly relaxed.
Hopping back a couple of years to the Madman Across The Water album, Levon and Tiny Dancer were early highlights, the former showcasing Elton’s piano playing prowess with the first of many dazzling, rapturous solo breaks.
This was to become a common theme for the set, as songs were extended and brought to thrilling instrumental climaxes. A stately, mellifluous piano solo introduced Rocket Man and the ovation at the end of it drew Elton away from the piano for the first time as he acknowledged the crowd’s applause from each corner of the stage.
Introducing Oceans Away, written to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, he dedicated this to the memory of those who had lost their lives in the military conflict. It was particularly poignant with the 100 year anniversary of the conflict fast approaching. This was appropriately followed by Someone Saved My Life Tonight, another standout moment.
Elsewhere, Philadelphia Freedom was so funky that it defied anyone not to bop along, and towards the end of Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, the fans knew that it was time for the final rock-out; I’m Still Standing, The Bitch Is Back, Your Sister Can’t Twist and a rip roaring, Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.
He may be one of the biggest stars to grace the Arena’s stage for quite some time, but there was not a diva in the place. His performance was first class; entertaining throughout. His continued mastery of his craft, both vocally and instrumentally showed that this 67 singer songwriter should never hang those Rocket Man boots up. He can come back and entertain us as often as he likes. It was simply an outstanding night.