Elton John has been touring for 47 years, and it shows. His professionalism and consistent performance are without a doubt signs of a man with vast experience and a mastery of the stage. His band mates are equally skilled and at home on the stage. Harvey’s Outdoor Amphitheater keeps bringing world class shows to Lake Tahoe.
Elton came out promptly at 8:30 and humorously pandered to the crowd by putting his hands out as if to say, “Well, here I am.” He kicked of the evening with the trio of Bitch, Bennie and The Jets, and Candle in The Wind. For most of the show he stood up after every song and turned to the crowd and sought their approval, which he received. The crowd seemed to cover at least six decades in age. There were people with their children, and even their grandchildren. Really good music knows no generational limits.
Nothing can be said that hasn’t already been said about Elton John’s talent.
Behind the band was a huge video screen that displayed wonderful videos that obviously were meant to accompany the songs they were playing with. During Believe, a song about the power of love, the screen was filled with an animation that looked like little red sperms (I may have missed the symbolism ), Shine The Light was backed with patriotic animations, Yellow Brick Road had lots of fireworks and city scapes, and I’m Still Standing had a very nicely assembled collage of Elton photographs and videos that covered the early years. Other than an ambulance pulling up backstage during Daniel, the show came off without a hitch. Thirty to forty years ago we all would have made assumptions on what that was all about. Today it was more likely a hip failure than a drug overdose.
Nothing can be said that hasn’t already been said about Elton John’s talent. His singing and playing appear effortless and he doesn’t miss a note. His extended solo intro to Rocket Man entwined elements of classical, jazz, pop, Broadway musicals, lots of improvisation and ultimately he drifted seamlessly into the song. And then there’s his top notch band.
Bass player, Matt Bissonette has been playing bass guitar and singing with him since 2012 and has an impressive musical background. He’s played with Maynard Ferguson, Gino Vanelli, Sheena Easton, Brian Wilson, Rick Springfield, David Lee Roth, and Joe Satriani (there’s more).
Kim Bullard, on keyboards was asked to join Elton’s band in 2009 and has been a huge contributor ever since. His background is also very impressive having played with Bette Midler, Foghat and Nine Inch Nails to name a few.
On percussion is John Mahon who has been playing with Elton since 1997 for over 1400 shows. John has also toured with Peter White, Al Stewart, Helen Reddy, Rita Coolidge and Three Dog Night’s Chuck Negron.
Davey Johnstone – Musical Director, Guitars, Mandolin, Banjo, Vocals has been with him since 1971 and has played over 2,000 shows with him. He has also worked with John Lennon, Lenny Kravitz, Stevie Nicks, Alice Cooper, Eric Clapton, B. B. King and John Mayer.
Last but not least is drummer Nigel Olsson. Nigel came to Elton from The Spencer Davis Group (Steve Winwood’s first real band). He has been playing with Elton since 1969 and has over 2028 shows under his belt. Why share all this information? Because that, my friends , is one of the most seasoned and experienced bands that you could ever hope to hear. Tighter than a frogs… well, you get the picture.**
As the show neared the end the excitement and energy of the crowd was palpable. The whole place was bouncing up and down. I looked around and all I could see was people dancing, waving their arms in the air and singing along. If there was one thing that I found wrong it was that the performance was too tight and too polished. There’s something to be said for spontaneity and rough edges in live music. Maybe that’s like saying the food was too good at your favorite restaurant. I don’t know. But I do know that I would go back for seconds.
Bennie and The Jets
Candle in The Wind
Shine The Light
Yellow Brick Road
I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues
Burn Down The Mission
Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
I’m Still Standing
Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n’ Roll)
Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)
– exit –
by Nick McCabe – Front Row Photo
**portions of the bands bio were taken from eltonjohn.com
…and the beat goes on.