PNC Music Pavilion
June 14, 2014
Wearing a blue, sequined jacket emblazoned with red, yellow and silver streaks and the words "Rocket Man" across the back, 67-year-old Elton John strode toward his piano, waving briefly. During the first song "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding," he often looked at the crowd and smiled. But it wasn't until the song's conclusion that John stood up, pumped his fists and summoned for massive applause. It was an act he'd do throughout the night, perhaps even a bit too much - though, you can't blame a guy who performs seated for getting up to move a bit as often as he can. And those brief glances at the audience are needed from a pianist who shows his side profile for much of the night.
Each time we heard a massive sing-along from the crowded amphitheater, the next tune brought a bigger one. "Levon" was outdone by "Tiny Dancer," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" was eclipsed by "Rocket Man," and so it went through to the encore of "Your Song" and "Crocodile Rock."
John shared a few stories about the inspiration for lyrics - and made sure to thank his longtime collaborator Taupin - but mostly it was a greatest-hits performance that never seemed to end, much to the delight of fans. Each time he stood up and we thought he might leave the stage, he'd sit right back down for the next bunch of favorites. It was an exhaustive yet energetic night that kept the crowd on its feet dancing in the cool night air.
He talked briefly of Leon Russell before performing "Hey Ahab" from their 2010 album, The Union, and gave thanks to servicemen before one of his newer songs, "Oceans Away." After closing his regular set with the apropos "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting," John returned to spend a few minutes signing autographs for fans up front before closing out with his two-song encore.
The music didn't veer far off from the original blueprints, but they didn't need to. Sure, he let the crowd sing all the high-pitched "la la la la la" parts of "Crocodile Rock," but John proved time and time again throughout the night the strength of his vocals and why he doesn't need backup singers to help fill out the sound. For nearly three hours and after 30 studio albums, he's still got it.