I’ve been an Elton John fan for a long, long time. I saw him exactly once many years ago. When I knew he was going to resume his (seemingly endless) farewell tour, I figured, well, I gotta get a ticket to that. I confess I wasn’t expecting much. Reg is 75 years old and well, he recently just seemed every bit of it.
But I am here to tell you this- I have seen a lot – I mean a FUCKload of shows – and this show was right up there with the best. When he came out, Sir Elton Hercules Reg Dwight John made it clear that he wouldn’t be in this area again, so let’s just go for it. And did he (and his band) ever do that. They sounded (Captain) fantastic and it took me a while to realize there were only 7 guys in the band making this awesome noise. No female backup singers, no horn section – just stripped-down rock and roll (and ballads.)
The Who, God love ’em, have like a hundred people on stage. Elton’s band was tight, well-rehearsed (by musical director/guitarist Davey Johnstone), and energetic. My wife couldn’t believe these guys could crank it out like this when they’re all in their seventies.
And while I’ve never been a fan of “Big Arena Rock,” we’ve come a long way from the days when the Beatles played through a PA at Shea Stadium. We had seats up on the side ($270 each) and with the giant screens and the A-plus sound system, it was all just awesome. (My wife likes Elton but came to the show with a “yeah, I guess” attitude and was just blown away.)
The show started out with “Bennie and the Jets” with a massive (and yet somehow irritating) crowd singalong. (They shouldn’t allow people to sing along unless it’s me singing “Rosalita” at a Bruce show which is COMPLETELY different. But I digress.)
Note – I didn’t feel like recording anything so all videos are from someplace else.
Sir Human Jukebox did all the hits and even went deeper into his catalog than I expected. (If I could make one change I would pull out the egregious “Philadelphia Freedom” and replace it with “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters.”)
Well, two changes actually. There’s some kind of dance mashup POS of “Sacrifice” and “Rocket Man” that is somehow a hit even though it fucking sucks. Just put “Sacrifice” in as it is truly a great song. Save the dance mashup shit for ladies’ night out because they are the only ones who sing along or who give a fuck.
A surprise pick (for me) was “Have Mercy on the Criminal” from Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player. I say, “for me” because it is apparently a fairly popular live pick. My wife never heard it (I barely remember it) and she remarked on how great it sounded. Davey Johnstone – who first started playing with E on 1971’s Madman Across the Water, rips off some nice guitar.
Social note – Foxborough is a nothing town about 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Boston. When Boston didn’t want to build a stadium for the New England Patriots (American) football team, they stuck it down there.
Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to anybody to add in any new roads for this 65,000-seat stadium. Why would they?? So locals go insane whenever there is a show or a game.
And finding our car in the rain (mostly post-show) in the gigantic parking lot took us 20 minutes, then we sat in the car for an hour without moving, then we crawled for an hour till we finally got to the highway. It took us three hours to get home on what would otherwise be maybe a 45-minute ride. No matter. That’s my last visit there as I’m winding down my “big concert” money/aggravation sink anyway. Had I known it would take three hours to get home, I likely would have tied my shirt around my neck and leaped off the top of the stadium.
I’ll skip “Candle in the Wind” as I’ve never been a big fan and for some reason, the fans feel the need to wave their phones around. Note – I forgot how good a piano player Elton is. I am not a pianist so I am speaking as a layman.
Here’s a better song, “Burn Down the Mission.”
I used to think of people that went to these shows as my tribe. Now I just think of them as pains in the ass who are in my way. That said, I did get a kick of watching the lesbian couple in a row in front of us. Clearly, massive EJ fans.
And when he sang “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word,” they clung to each other like fucking life preservers. My wife reasons that they had a big fight and reconciled. John’s music has a lot of emotional resonance. Why, when he played “Your Song,” I felt so loving I almost reached over and shook my wife’s hand.
But enough sentimentality. Let us end this lovefest with one of my favorite EJ songs, “Take Me To The Pilot.”
I’ve noticed a trend lately of older rockers coming out and being gracious and humble and telling the crowd how much they appreciate and love them. Even Roger Waters who once spit on a fan! Elton was no exception, telling us how much he appreciated our being there, how many times he’d been to New England, how he played the (long gone) Boston Tea Party. And he’s a Patriots fan! (?)
Elton – you mentioned Bernie a number of times. You couldn’t put a picture of you and he together on screen right at the end?
When Reggie came out for the encore, he came out alone in what looked like a bathrobe. He can still move around albeit a bit stiffly these days and even with a slight limp. After the egregious “Sacrifice’ mash-up, he did “Your Song” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” Then he disappeared on an elevator or something.
And we then all trudged out, happy in the fact that it “only” cost us $14 for a Gatorade and ice cream bar and fifty bucks for parking. (I passed on the Elton John glasses and other merch that they kept pushing on the screens pre-show. A lot of people bought Elton’s flashing glasses and I wonder what they will do with them now. Halloween?.
But no. I’m here for another day. Elton winds up his North American tour in LA and after this tour, he tells us he will go home and be a father to his kids. Touring at his age might affect his health and relationships. And as he once so eloquently put it
Don’t let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it’s always someone else I see
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free
But losing everything is like the sun going down on me
Bennie and the Jets
I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues
Have Mercy on the Criminal
Take Me to the Pilot
Someone Saved My Life Tonight
Candle In the Wind
Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
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
Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Davey Johnstone, Musical Director, Backing Vocals
Nigel Olsson, Drums Backing Vocals
Ray Cooper, Percussion
John Mahon, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Kim Bullard, Keyboards
Matt Bissonette, Bass, Backing vocals
Elton John, Vocals, piano, queen bitch