Sir Elton John was back to full heath and in fine form when he performed to a packed Genting Arena in Birmingham, the third show in a come-back after cancelling US shows due to a serious illness.
After being taken “violently ill” on a flight back to the UK from a tour of South America, Sir Elton spent two days in intensive care and an extended stay in hospital after he was diagnosed with having been hit by a life-threatening and “rare” bacterial infection back in April
His recovery seemed well on track to the 16,000 fans who flocked to see him belt out the hits in Birmingham, with his full band backing him. Looking well and flamboyant in a sequined-covered, sparkly, colourful frock coat for his energetic concert performance.
Supported by London based singer-songwriter Jacob Isaac and his band. Jacob is managed by Elton’s Rocket management company, as is Ed Sheeran. Jacob is back out on the road for his own headline shows in September. He has previously toured with Ella Eyre and has appeared at Glastonbury. He has opened for the likes of Paloma Faith too. JP Cooper and Josh Record guest on his EP.
But tonight was all about Sir Elton John, playing his third live show in less than a week after gigs in Derby and Twickenham. At 70-years-old, his voice is in tact and he can still hit all the notes.
After his recent illness he had to pull shows in Vegas and Bakersfield in the USA, following his show in Chile. But now back to fitness, he has scheduled 27 shows in Las Vegas from October this year through to March 2018. His acclaimed “The Million Dollar Piano” spectacular, will be the star attraction for his residency show at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Tickets for Sir Elton’s new shows goes on sale on June 10.
For his show in Birmingham, Elton opened with “The Bitch Is Back”, and then treated fans to the timeless “Benny And The Jets”. He told the audience that despite having been doing what he does since 1969, he loves his job more than ever today, and his fans keep him motivated.
He effortlessly played many of his big hits, sat at a black Grand piano, including “Daniel”, “Your Song”, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” and a belting rendition of one of his own personal favourites, “Crocodile Rock,” from his classic 1973 album “Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Piano Player”.
The crowd singing along to the evergreen smash hit. Crowd favourites “Rocket Man” and “Saturday Night’s All Right For Fighting,” were fabulous. His band are all top end players, and in demand from other stars such as Alice Cooper and Meat Loaf. Elton’s long-time guitarist Davey Johnstone played a blinder.
During the set, Elton paid tribute to the victims of the recent Manchester and London terror attacks, dedicating number one hit “I Want Love”, to them. He also remembered his close friend George Michael, and sang a showstopping version of “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”, that they dueted on in 1991 on the live version, which scored a number one in the UK and US. Originally recorded in 1974 by Elton for his studio album “Caribou”, released as a single that peaked at number two on the US chart, and got to number 16 on the UK Chart.
During the show, he shook hands with fans and even signed autographs from the stage. No security barrier between him and the crowd. Last year he yelled at over zealous security staff at an open air concert at the cricket stadium in Leicester, for stopping people dancing, cutting his performance short and leaving the stage without an encore. Tonight that was no issue, those from this all-seated audience getting up for a bop – Elton beaming at his adoring fans up on their feet.
He closed the night with a stunning and emotional version of “Candle In The Wind”, which many have indelibly etched into their memories from his performance of the song at Princess Diana’s funeral.
He thanked, “you magnificent people” for being such an amazing audience, and told everyone what “a pleasure” it was to perform for them tonight. The superstar has six more UK shows in June, in Blackburn, Peterborough, Ipswich, Widnes, Cork and Airdrie. G
Go get a ticket, and believe the message written on the front of his drummer’s Yamaha bass drum skin; that you are in for a “Wonderful Crazy Night”. I’m Still Standing very much the sentiment, for sure…
Words: Simon Redley
Photos: Jason Sheldon