A knight to remember
Elton John opens Perth Arena
Elton John at Perth Arena. Photo: Matthew Tompsett
Last night the Perth Arena went from being that odd looking building on Wellington Street that cost a lot more than initially planned, to being a Perth landmark.
Both Elton John and the angular, Transformer-esque building impressed those lucky enough to have snapped up tickets to the official opening event.
Despite the early pessimism about the building and a few hiccups on the night, Perth Arena came out on top.
First impressions from crowds were positive as they entered the foyer, where a collection of curved flat screen TVs – known as The Pendant - is suspended from the high roof, or via other entrances where VIP events were held.
Inside, the Croatian duo 2CELLOS took to the stage to warm up the crowd as some were still waiting in line at the box office.
Perth Arena told those that took to their Facebook page about their frustration at waiting up to an hour to get their tickets that the venue would have to work on shows "with big collections".
For those who were inside, 2CELLOS were a surprising addition that many in the audience had not been aware of.
The two young classically trained musicians got people interested by starting with Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal, the song they initially impressed Sir Elton himself with, when they posted it to YouTube a few years back.
They impressed the audience even more when they moved into a couple of AC/DC songs.
Sir Elton took to the stage dressed in a blue sequin suit and blue tinted glasses fittingly matching the blue of the interior of building.
He and his band kicked off the night with The Bitch Is Back.
Sir Elton may have been around in the music industry for more than four decades but his almost flawless performance proved he is anything but a has-been trying to hold on to his former glory.
While the night had been advertised as Elton John 'under the stars' the retractable roof stayed closed because of wet weather.
With the roof closed audience members were able to hear Sir Elton at his best, with the acoustics of the building projecting a clear sound around the arena.
Most seats had plenty of legroom, which was handy seeing the most popular move for much of the night was the toe tap in conjunction with the head nod.
As Sir Elton sang Benny and the Jets for not only the arena audience but also the Telethon audience on television, he looked as if he might almost burst out from his seat behind the huge big black grand piano.
Sir Elton made his way through his extensive back catalogue, with those audience members further back having two big screens on either side of the stage to provide a closer view of the action.
Watching him move from one hit to another, with a crowd almost mesmerized by his voice, it is crazy to think that Sir Elton once claimed, he could not really sing.
His voice and stage presence sustained throughout the almost two and a half hours he was on stage.
His core five piece backing band was led masterfully by longtime guitarist Davey Johnstone and drummer Nigel Ollson, with regular contributions from the four piece backing vocal quartet, which included Sly and the Family Stone founding member Rose Stone.
The night's opening act 2CELLOS were also a common sight on stage throughout the night, highlighting just how much they have impressed Sir Elton.
While most were sure to have had that one song they were hoping he would sing, Tiny Dancer would have to be up there for fan favourites.
For this reviewer at least, it was a pretty surreal experience to hear those lyrics sung with the passion that one could only try to mimic, with the music turned up and a fist held up as a makeshift microphone.
Even after decades of performing, it was pleasing to see that Sir Elton still appeared to enjoy the excitement of being in front of a crowd.
From behind his piano, between lyrics of songs, a big smile beamed out to the crowd throughout the night.
When he came to sing Candle in the Wind Sir Elton sang the original Norma Jean version rather than the one penned in memory of Princess Diana.
He sang Goodbye Yellow Brick Road before coming to the song that prompted this tour.
Rocket Man, in its 40th year since it was released got a standing ovation from much of the crowd.
After a couple of newer songs including Hey Ahab, the audience were treated to performances of The Blues, Sad Songs, Sacrifice, Daniel and Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me.
An informal mosh pit formed at the front of the stage as Sir Elton started playing Are You Ready For Love?.
It grew as he continued onto I'm still standing and finally the dancers in the crowd let loose when he broke into Crocodile Rock.
Most were too enthralled with Sir Elton’s performance to be Facebooking, but if they wanted to they might have had issues.
Despite Wi-Fi access being advertised as one of the high-tech features of the arena, the big crowd numbers must have slowed the system down because tweeting seemed to be out of the question once the entertainment began.
On the positive side of things, the staff at the arena were pleasant and friendly and received quite a few compliments.
Sir Elton finished his set with Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting).
With so many hits, there was always going to be plenty of choice for an encore.
Sir Elton came back out onto the stage but not before addressing his fans in the front row and signing everything from $10 notes, to denim jackets, concert tickets and records.
He sang two more songs, the first was the romantic, innocent sounding ballad Your song.
He ended with the song written and made famous by the Disney film, The Lion King, Circle of life.
As concert goers left the arena last night, most did so impressed, having put the pessimism about the new facility behind them and with fond memories of having seen an icon performing at his best.
George Michael, the original act for the opening night for Perth Arena was far from people's minds by this point.
Perth was the first stop for Sir Elton's 40th anniversary of the Rocket Man Tour.
He will play one more show here on Monday night before heading to the eastern states.