Everyone gets sick, even superstars. Such was the case on Saturday night as Elton John brought his ‘The Final Curtain’ tour to Charlottesville’s John Paul Jones arena. John said after the opening song that he was fighting a horrible flu and apologized up front for what promised to be an interesting night vocally. His voice was rough, especially when speaking. When singing, he managed to hit most of the notes, and I give props to his band for picking up the slack on what was clearly an off night for Elton.
John has said in press releases for the tour that it ‘goes without saying that [he] wants to spend more time at home and less time touring,” He’s slated to play Vegas for two weeks in April and tour Europe throughout 2016, but this time around may well be his final US Tour, and most certainly his last appearance in the state of Virginia.
So, how does one celebrate and encapsulate a career spanning 46 years and over 60 albums? You play the hits almost everyone knows! Opening with the always spine-tingling instrumental ‘Funeral For A Friend’ and then “Love Lies Bleeding,” it was made clear that Elton was still going to be able to deliver on a night when almost any other performer in the same condition would have canceled the show.
Elton’s band, which still features original member Nigel Olsson on drums and Davey Johnstone on guitar were in stellar form, even handling almost all vocals on ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ when Elton’s voice, or lack thereof, prevented him from attempting any of the high notes.
The stage set up was sparse with only a huge chandelier hanging that changed colors throughout the show, and the low screen backdrop made the stage appear similar to The Hollywood Bowl, with a high arch at the back of the stage.
I must mention one change from previous dates on the tour. On almost every stop prior to Saturday, the song ‘Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters’ had been featured. However, because of Elton’s flu, the song was replaced with ‘Daniel’; not a bad replacement as I had not heard him sing that song live before. Highlights for me included ‘All the Young Girls Love Alice,’ ‘Levon,’ ‘Rocket Man’ and ‘Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock And Roll).’
I was honored to see this show with my friend, and Elton John Superfan, Dana. If this indeed was my final time seeing Elton, I’m very glad I saw this very unique show with her.
Set list (from Setlst.fm):
Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
Bennie and the Jets
Candle in the Wind
All the Girls Love Alice
A Good Heart
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
(Intro featured extended Piano Solo)
I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
Have Mercy on the Criminal
Burn Down the Mission
Sad Songs (Say So Much)
(Dedicated to Elton’s eldest son, Zachary Jackson who was in the audience)
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