Tuesday night's alright (for Elton John)

Piano rock royalty proves he's still got the moves

Photos: Aloysius Lim; Videos: Teng Siew Eng
Photos: Aloysius Lim; Videos: Teng Siew Eng
02 Dec 2015

Photos: Aloysius Lim; Videos: Teng Siew Eng

No costume changes, barely any words, and the painful absence of flashy eyewear - but over 2.5 hours Sir Elton John delivered a concert that earned standing ovations after every other song.

On the tail end of his All The Hits tour, the singer-songwriter-pop culture icon performed the first of his two shows in Singapore last night at The Star Performing Arts Centre. And after tonight’s concert he’ll be off to six cities across Australia, where he’ll end the last leg of the year-long jaunt before Christmas.

Elton wore the same attire throughout, a long blue coat awash with glittering sequins on the sleeves and across the back, which rates quite conservatively against the outlandish glam rock costumes he was known for donning at the height of their popularity in the 1970s.

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Tuesday night's alright (for Elton John)
Tuesday night's alright (for Elton John)
02 Dec 2015

Tuesday night's alright (for Elton John)

He opened the show with a haunting instrumental introduction to ‘Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding,’ leading a lean outfit of five musicians - a keyboardist, drummer, bassist, guitarist and percussionist, who doubled as backing vocalists.

Through the evening, the 68-year-old cycled through a series of hits that read like an audio résumé of his five-decade music career: ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ ‘Candle in the Wind,’ ‘Levon,’ ‘Tiny Dancer,‘ 'Daniel,’ ‘Philadelphia Freedom,’ ‘Rocket Man,’ ‘Hey Ahab,’ ‘I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues,’ ‘Burn Down the Mission,’ ‘Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me,’ ‘Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word,’ and more.

The end of the third number saw Elton utter his first words of the night. “Good evening, Singapore,” he said, to rousing applause from the nearly 5,000-strong audience. “We're proud to be here playing in this beautiful hall. I've got a stinking cold, but I'll get through it,” he added, before launching into his 1973 hit ‘All the Girls Love Alice.’

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Tuesday night's alright (for Elton John)
Tuesday night's alright (for Elton John)
02 Dec 2015

Tuesday night's alright (for Elton John)

Elton churned out energetic tunes one after another, and his fingers flitted over the ivories with focused ferocity. The singer stood up from his seat intermittently to take a bow, wave to the crowd, sip a drink and possibly stretch his legs.

“I've written hundreds and hundreds of songs with Bernie Taupin (his long-time lyricist and songwriting partner),” he said when introducing his song ‘Believe.’ “Its lyrics are about hope and love and peace, and in the world we're living in we could do with all three of those.”

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Tuesday night's alright (for Elton John)
Tuesday night's alright (for Elton John)
02 Dec 2015

Tuesday night's alright (for Elton John)

Some vocal strain snuck in midway through the show: ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ was seemingly performed in a lower key, while backing vocals on ‘Rocket Man’ camouflaged the absence of high notes from Elton. But royalty may always be excused.

It was a slight pity the concert venue wasn’t an open-air Glastonbury-style stage, though. One could tell the audience were itching to get up and groove - in fact, a handful did, but they gave up because it probably got awkward for them.

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Tuesday night's alright (for Elton John)
Tuesday night's alright (for Elton John)
02 Dec 2015

Tuesday night's alright (for Elton John)

But when the telltale guitar riff of ‘The B*tch Is Back’ rang out, the crowd tossed away its Asian paiseh-ness and got on its feet to dance. Elton himself stood up multiple times during the song, once even sitting atop his piano like a sassy diva. (The number came as a surprise too, considering it was banned from several radio stations soon after its 1974 release due to its uncouth lyrics.)

The crowd inched towards the stage and formed a polite mosh pit for ‘Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ’n’ Roll),’ then lost all inhibition - likely with help from alcoholic beverages - and bopped along to ‘Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting).’

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Tuesday night's alright (for Elton John)
Tuesday night's alright (for Elton John)
02 Dec 2015

Tuesday night's alright (for Elton John)

Elton and his band exited the stage, but resounding applause forced them to return. Elton picked up a child from in front of the stage and posed for photos with him, and then enthusiastic fans took off their shirts for him to autograph.

One psyched spectator in the crowd started singing “Nants ingonyama bagithi baba,” the opening line from ‘Circle of Life,’ in the hopes of getting Elton to perform a track from The Lion King soundtrack as the encore number. But ‘Crocodile Rock’ ended the night, with the audience lending their vocals to the catchy “la la la la la” chorus lines.

“Thank you,” Elton said simply. “I'm sorry about my cold, but we got through it and we had fun so thank you.”

A man of few words makes great music.

Elton John All The Hits Tour Singapore is on again tonight, December 2, 8pm at The Star Theatre. Tickets at $488, $358, $248, $188, $148 available from SISTIC or its booking hotline (6348 5555)

Click on for more photos from Elton John's concert! 

The audience got up to dance towards the end of the show
The audience got up to dance towards the end of the show
02 Dec 2015

The audience got up to dance towards the end of the show

“I've got a stinking cold, but I'll get through it,” Elton said.
“I've got a stinking cold, but I'll get through it,” Elton said.
02 Dec 2015

“I've got a stinking cold, but I'll get through it,” Elton said.

The singer-songwriter with his backing musicians
The singer-songwriter with his backing musicians
02 Dec 2015

The singer-songwriter with his backing musicians

The songs on the set list included ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ ‘Candle in the Wind’ and ‘Levon.'
The songs on the set list included ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ ‘Candle in the Wind’ and ‘Levon.'
02 Dec 2015

The songs on the set list included ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ ‘Candle in the Wind’ and ‘Levon.'

Elton performed tunes from as far back as the 1970s.
Elton performed tunes from as far back as the 1970s.
02 Dec 2015

Elton performed tunes from as far back as the 1970s.

Elton waves to the fans who gathered before the stage
Elton waves to the fans who gathered before the stage
02 Dec 2015

Elton waves to the fans who gathered before the stage

On 'Believe,' Elton said its lyrics
On 'Believe,' Elton said its lyrics "are about hope and love and peace."
02 Dec 2015

On 'Believe,' Elton said its lyrics "are about hope and love and peace."

Even the sassy ‘The B*tch Is Back’ made it on the set list.
Even the sassy ‘The B*tch Is Back’ made it on the set list.
02 Dec 2015

Even the sassy ‘The B*tch Is Back’ made it on the set list.

Other songs included ‘Philadelphia Freedom,’ ‘Rocket Man,’ and ‘Hey Ahab.’
Other songs included ‘Philadelphia Freedom,’ ‘Rocket Man,’ and ‘Hey Ahab.’
02 Dec 2015

Other songs included ‘Philadelphia Freedom,’ ‘Rocket Man,’ and ‘Hey Ahab.’

Elton stood up to engage the crowd numerous times
Elton stood up to engage the crowd numerous times
02 Dec 2015

Elton stood up to engage the crowd numerous times

“Thank you,” Elton said simply before the encore tune, 'Crocodile Rock.'
“Thank you,” Elton said simply before the encore tune, 'Crocodile Rock.'
02 Dec 2015

“Thank you,” Elton said simply before the encore tune, 'Crocodile Rock.'

“I'm sorry about my cold, but we got through it and we had fun so thank you.”
“I'm sorry about my cold, but we got through it and we had fun so thank you.”
02 Dec 2015

“I'm sorry about my cold, but we got through it and we had fun so thank you.”

Watch highlights from Elton John's concert in Singapore:
Elton John - Funeral For A Friend (Love Lies Bleeding)
Elton John - Bennie And The Jets
Elton John - Candle In The Wind

Related:
Sir Elton John announces new album 
Sir Elton John: Ed Sheeran should get a band 

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