Rocket man still packs a punchMusic
Reviewer's rating: 3.5/5
Elton John ... wowed the crowds at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. Photo: Edwina Pickles
Sydney Entertainment Centre, November 15
At 65, he may be approaching retirement age, but Elton John has lost none of his wit and playfulness.
If a support act he proudly introduced from the screens — his own two-cellist string section playing unlikely covers from Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal to ACDC's Highway to Hell — wasn't enough proof, opening with the swinging, self-referencing The Bitch Is Back was a nicely sharp touch.
Despite sounding a little hoarse when he spoke and veering into a harsh bellow when he sang, his voice was often in better condition than you might expect.
Sure, he struggled with the high notes of Tiny Dancer and Bennie and the Jets. But if you were prepared to forgive that, as were most in the packed audience delighted just to hear one of the world's most famous pop stars singing his genuinely classic songs, there wasn't much else you could fault.
With 43 years of recorded material to cover, there was no shortage of such tunes either. This tour celebrates 40 years since the release of Rocket Man but could easily be adjusted to fit a given anniversary of any number of era-defining hits — and John not only seemed to play them all, from the heartbreaking ballads (Candle in the Wind et al) to the rousing likes of Philadelphia Freedom — he made time to play a few relative obscurities for the old-school fans.
By the end of this tour, John says he'll have played this venue 45 times and adds that he hopes to do so again "before they tear the place down". He'll no doubt fill it again and, given the amount of pure, unpretentious pleasure he gives to so many, deservedly so.
Elton John plays a solo show at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on Friday. It will include a set featuring songs from his collaboration with Sydney duo Pnau, Good Morning to the Night.