Elton John – February 3rd, 2014 – Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario

Elton John – February 3rd, 2014 – Budweiser Gardens, London, Ontario

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When I was in grade 8, I would come home, eat my lunch quickly, and then spend the rest of my lunch hour listening to records in my room – before rushing back to afternoon classes. I had fallen in love with music and couldn’t get enough of it.

One of the albums in that rotation (I believe there were four at that time), was Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (The others were Edgar Winter Group’s “They Only Come out at Night”, The Guess Who’s “Greatest Hits”, And Alice Cooper’s “Welcome to My Nightmare”) .

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is one of those classic albums that not only has no bad cuts, every single song is a classic, a masterpiece, and each song is burned into my very being. I was very happy to see that Elton John was coming back to London Ontario (unfortunately, I missed his previous show to circumstances beyond my control), and even more excited to learn that this tour was celebrating the 40th anniversary of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road!

I am one of those concert-goers who likes to know the set list in advance, if possible. So I was even more excited about seeing this tour when I saw how many songs from the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album were being included in the setist (Although it was clear that Elton changes parts of the setlist regularly, it was clear I was going to hear a lot off this album). Many of these were some of my favourite deep cuts.

Here is a set list we actually got in London Ontario – 28 songs!

Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
Bennie and the Jets
Candle in the Wind
Grey Seal
Tiny Dancer
Holiday Inn
Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Philadelphia Freedom
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
I’ve Seen That Movie Too
Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
Hey Ahab
I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
The One
Oceans Away
Someone Saved My Life Tonight
Sad Songs (Say So Much)
All the Girls Love Alice
Home Again
Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
I’m Still Standing
The Bitch Is Back
Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n Roll)
Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Your Song
Crocodile Rock

Wow! Ten songs off Goodbye Yellow Brick Road! I think I might’ve enjoyed this show more than the casual fans in the crowd, as I kind of got the sense that the fans who were there for the ‘hits’ didn’t recognize deep cuts like ‘I’ve Seen That Movie Too’, and ‘All the Girls Love Alice’ – which were both stellar, and both highlights for me.

I was also very excited to be able to see Elton’s live band, which is comprised of the same players for the most part, but have been with him since the early 1970s. With the exception of the late bassist Dee Murray, the core players were there, namely drummer Nigel Olsson and guitarist Davey Johnstone. Love to see that loyalty to bandmates in a successful artist!

Here is keyboardist Kim Bullard, who did a great job with all the orchestral parts, and helped make sure the songs were extremely close to the album versions. I was close enough to see that there were no backing tracks being used:

P1160622web crop Here’s Edinburghian Davey Johnstone, on what looks to be a nice 58 Plain top Les Paul re-issue:P1160631web crop Here’s the general stage and lighting set up:P1160646web crop Davey again with a nice Les Paul custom, with percussionist John Mahon in the background:P1160655web crop From where I was sitting drummer Nigel Olsson was mostly obscured by Elton’s grand piano. Nigel was always known for wearing headphones while drumming, and his bass drum has long had this classic cartoon image of him:P1160668web crop Very cool double-neck:P1160697web crop Oh yeah, Elton John was there too!P1160701web cropDavey on acoustic:P1160782web crop Elton seemed to have a great time (I had heard that he was not in such a great mood at the last London Ontario show):P1160784web crop Why does I’ll play so much (tours often, and has his residency in Las Vegas – and his tour shows are LONG)? He doesn’t need the money (although I understand Elton has very expensive tastes).

It’s pretty obvious, he’s a musician first and foremost and he LOVES to play!

P1160793web crop In fact all the band were really into it:P1160803web crop P1160833web crop Sure, Elton has an ego, and revels in the adulation…P1160841web crop P1160842web crop But you can clearly tell that when the music starts, it’s all about playing in a band.P1160845web cropAnd Elton John very much appreciate his audience!P1160851web crop Finally got a good shot of Nigel Olsson during the band introductions!P1160862web crop Pacing of the show was fantastic, and intensity built as some of the up-tempo hits were played. Elton is a great showman!P1160878web crop Elton helps out bassist Matt Bissonette on The Bitch Is Back!

Matt Bissonette Is a renowned bassist, having played with David Lee Roth, Boz Scaggs, Ringo Starr and many, many others! He and his brother Gregg are known in the biz as the Bissonette Brothers.P1160882web crop A Reverse Flying V replaced the Flying V that Davey Johnstone traditionally plays during The Bitch Is Back!P1160883web crop Elton digging it!P1160892web crop Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting:P1160910web cropElton may be 67, but he can still bring a snarl when he wants to!P1160916web crop P1160918web crop P1160921web crop Was able to catch a little more of Nigel Olsson later in the show:P1160926web cropDavey Johnstone on a nice sparkly Stratocaster:P1160933web cropWhat a GREAT band! What a GREAT show!!
P1160937web cropIf you hadn’t told me back in grade 8 than in 2014, I would see Elton John play more than half the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album in downtown London, Ontario, I would have been looking forward to this show from that point on! And I wouldn’t have be disappointed.