Monday, August 26, 2013

'Well Look At Me'

Arguably one of the greatest versions of I'm Still Standing in the modern era. He sang the chorus before the solo like he normally sings the final chorus. At 2.37 he looks to Matt as if to say 'see what I can still do in 2013?' When he performed that show I was watching it live on the webcast, one of the top 10 Elton shows ever I think. That moment in I'm Still Standing is a encapsulation of what Elton does. He can take the expected, which is always good anyway, and put something unexpected into it. And 9 times out of 10 it's always the right thing to do. After 30 years of doing the song, to find another way is always Elton way.
The South American tour earlier this year was a triumph. A masterclass of urgency and energy. Elton has been in tip top form throughout. The new inspired phrasing of both voice and piano has had variations and familiarity in the places you'd expect and in those still being discovered. Elton's ability to turn on a sixpence is a given. The collective cohesion of the band and awareness of their art made those explorations as controlled as a school of dolphins following their leader every which way all over the ocean. Unison in musicon...the magical prescence of the artist and the audience brought a fusion of mutual appreciation. Elton never went through the motions, the emotions went through him...

Elton's voice has freed itself of any strain of a few years ago, the high notes are still there for the taking. And on the South America tour he took them with both lungs, I'm Still Standing being a prime example. His playing is as full as ever, even the spaces between notes have depth. The band is on tip form too, Nigel has a looseness especially on Tiny Dancer that mirrors the lyric. Matt Bissonette has introduced some great lines. He's certainly put his stamp down and no mistake. He's got melody in spades and has tapped into the groove between Nigel and Elton with some tasty little parts. Davey as per usual glides in and out of Elton like a breeze. Always there but with varying degrees of strength. When he drags that finger down the fretboard on Believe and Saturday Night it's like a thunder clap of lightening. Kim's Hammond organ sound on Skyline Pigeon whispered with an equally strong roar, the band version of that song one of the highlights of the tour. John fills every song with colour, musically and vocally. The girls have that touch of class combining strength of vocals (Sad Songs) and delicateness in delivery (Mona Lisa's) The 2Cellos haven't been missed much, if anything the band has returned to a clearer sound which allows everyone to live and breath to full capacity.

A word on the crowds. I know  alot of South American fans on Facebook, they are top class passionate fans. Elton didn't go down there much over the years, but the fact he did a large scale tour playing to packed houses is a clear indicator down there of his standing. Still...

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