Three days shy of his 70th birthday, musical legend ELTON JOHN and his band, highlighted his talent, showmanship, and several hits in front of a sold-out crowd of over 11,500 multi-generational fans at Albuquerque's Tingley Coliseum on Wednesday night.
In a set of twenty-three songs, covering 50 years of music and nearly two and a half hours long, Elton John and his band gave Albuquerque a performance that was as extraordinary as the man himself.
"It's been awhile since we were in Albuquerque," John told the crowd. "I hope you enjoy the night."
Clad in a sparkling purple suit and matching signature glasses, with "EJ" emblazoned in gold on his back, Elton John electrified the decrepit Tingley venue on the Duke City stop of the "Wonderful Crazy Night" tour, in support of his 32nd studio album of the same name.
Opening with "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding", followed by "Bennie and the Jets," "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues," "Daniel," and my personal favorite, "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," John then gave the crowd an opportunity to hear a couple of songs from the new album, "Looking Up," and his own "favorite song from the album," "A Good Heart."
Next, getting back to the classics, was the song he had written for his close friend Billie Jean King, "Philadelphia Freedom" which sounded great despite being sans the Gene Page orchestral arrangement. Following that was a staggering piano solo, that overflowed with John's incredible skill and obvious passion for his instrument. Being rejoined by his band, next up was what is widely considered one of the greatest recorded songs of all time, "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time)"
That began a stretch of some of his biggest 70's era hits, "Tiny Dancer," "Levon," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Have Mercy on The Criminal," and "Your Song."
Between nearly every song, John engaged the crowd, walking around the stage showing gratitude to the audience.
Returning to the bench at his baby grand piano, John flawlessly performed the complicated "Burn Down the Mission" leading into the relatable "Sad Songs (Say So Much)."
John, then took an opportunity to introduce his band, long time guitarist Davey Johnstone who he has played with for 43 years, and drummer Nigel Olsson, who has played with him since 1969, as well as bassist Matt Bissonette, keyboardist Kim Bullard, and percussionist John Mahon. The group was in the midst of taking the audience on a musical journey that was replete with milestones and anniversaries. Not only was it an early celebration of John becoming a septuagenarian, but also the silver anniversary of the ELTON JOHN AIDS FOUNDATION which has raised more than $400 million dollars to date, as well as the golden anniversary of collaborating with writing partner Bernie Taupin.
Next John performed "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" as a tribute to his dear friend George Michael, who passed away this past December. Then moved to the rocking, semi-biographical "The Bitch Is Back." Keeping the upbeat mood with "I'm Still Standing," "Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock N Roll)," and finishing with the all-out jam, "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" which along with lively playing by the band, highlights Davey Johnstone's talent on guitar.
Then, putting an exclamation point on an outstanding performance, John closed the night with his very first U.S. number one single, "Crocodile Rock." Accompanied by over 11,500 fans performing the La-la-la falsetto.
John spoke to the crowd reminiscing about how many things have changed over the years since he began touring in 1969. He pointed out that the one constant has been the fans. He added that he loves to make records, but loves performing for the fans even more. As the lights came on in the coliseum, and we began making our way to the doors, the excitement and smiles on our faces showed that the only constant for many of us as well, has been the joy of Elton John and his music.