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
Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
I’ve Seen That Movie Too
Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
Someone Saved My Life Tonight
Sad Songs (Say So Much)
All the Girls Love Alice
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
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:
Here’s Edinburghian Davey Johnstone, on what looks to be a nice 58 Plain top Les Paul re-issue: Here’s the general stage and lighting set up: Davey again with a nice Les Paul custom, with percussionist John Mahon in the background: 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: Very cool double-neck: Oh yeah, Elton John was there too!Davey on acoustic: 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): 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!
In fact all the band were really into it: Sure, Elton has an ego, and revels in the adulation… But you can clearly tell that when the music starts, it’s all about playing in a band.And Elton John very much appreciate his audience! Finally got a good shot of Nigel Olsson during the band introductions! Pacing of the show was fantastic, and intensity built as some of the up-tempo hits were played. Elton is a great showman! 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. A Reverse Flying V replaced the Flying V that Davey Johnstone traditionally plays during The Bitch Is Back! Elton digging it! Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting:Elton may be 67, but he can still bring a snarl when he wants to! Was able to catch a little more of Nigel Olsson later in the show:Davey Johnstone on a nice sparkly Stratocaster:What a GREAT band! What a GREAT show!!
If 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.