Elton John performing at the PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte, N.C.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – As if it was obeying Elton John’s plea on the famous 1974 single, the sun seemed not in a hurry to go down on the PNC Music Pavilion as its seating rows were being filled on Saturday.
It was hard to imagine the singer walking out to perform in such broad daylight. After all, another notorious single declares “Saturday night’s alright”.
Not Saturday late afternoon. Not Saturday evening.
But just as surely as opening act 2Cellos were able to turn rock classics into classical string arrangements, the setting sun became hidden behind the trees and the stage finally grew dark. And when it did, a familiar but haunting refrain was heard.
John’s band, a crew of breathtaking talent including near-originals Davey Johnstone on guitar and Nigel Olsson on drums, walked out unceremoniously to the tune of “Funeral for a Friend”.
The entertainer followed, taking a small bow before seating himself at the piano where he would relentlessly pound the ivory keys for more than two and a half hours.
Now 67, Elton John is no longer simply the world’s most legendary piano player.
He’s a marvel.
Few entertainers in their twenties would commit themselves to being on a stage for more than 150 minutes with no intermission. Even fewer could keep an audience enraptured for such a period.
But that’s exactly what John did.
He dazzled with a most intricate and stirring piano solo in “Levon”, jumped otop of his black Roland piano during “The Bitch is Back”, and took every opportunity he could get between songs to rise up from the piano and stir the crowd into an absolute frenzy.
Charlotte could not stop going wild for Elton John.
But for an entertainer of this stature, there is a remarkable lack of pretentiousness. He assumes the role of a working showman, and he does not stop until he is assured the crowd is satisfied.
That meant playing nearly every hit in the catalog while mixing in some of his recent studio recordings including the tight-sounding “Hey Ahab”, lifted from his 2010 collaboration with Leon Russell.
By the time the last “Na na na na nas” in “Crocodile Rock” had been chanted and the last lighter for “Your Song” had been extinguished, it was hard not to wax historic about what had just transpired while the nearly sold-out crowd slowly departed.
Will audiences in five years be able to see Elton John entertain in his blue shades, red shoes, and sparkled evening jacket? How about in ten? No matter the number, one thing is for sure. See this legend while you still can.
More on Elton John at www.EltonJohn.com.