Friday, June 6, 2014

'Sounds For Saturday - DVD Review'

When I was doing the tours retrospective series, I mentioned this briefly. Though not necessarily part of a tour it's still a critical performance from Elton, Nigel and Dee.

Unfortunately the DVD is an unofficial one though in saying that it's still excellent quality. Sound and picture are A1. Filmed by the BBC in late 1971 for an early 1972 broadcast it's one of the lucky TV broadcasts from that era that has survived the BBC's criminal wiping policy. Expertly directed, it's filmed with great panache and detailed attention. All the key moments are captured.

Dressed in a super shirt (I want it!), Elton highlights and delights with his serious side in this performance. His chatter is reserved yet engaging. His playing is altogether another matter. Playing that is of the entire Madman album less All The Nasties. The three piece demonstrating yet again why they were cut above the rest. Madman is one of my favourite albums of all time, a glorious audio land. Stripped of all the terrific arrangements, this live example is a tremendous companion piece to the recorded version.

Seated at an open lid piano, he delicately and roughly plays as needs be as he runs through the set. Nigel on a riser with his huge kit towers over Elton. Dee is placed between them, standing solidly and playing with the equivalent ability. Deep in concentration. The interesting way it was filmed gives us some unique views of Nigel from the rear and the incredible footwork he does. The first time we see Nigel and Dee however is with them both standing at the microphone 'la, la, la-ing' on the outro to Rotten Peaches. Holiday Inn has the extra verse that was snipped from the album cut, the broken rhythms played with great timing by Nigel. The title track is a 10 minute odyssey of feelings and moods. The solo's are wildly temperamental. Dee's heavy bass notes adding great weight, Nigel's switching from ride cymbal to hi-hat carrying those swings with ease. 

The small audience gives it that intimate affair, when does he does some of the songs solo it draws the walls in further. Indian Sunset purely solo is mesmeric. The intensity of it is powerful. Even the opening of the show with Tiny Dancer is gripping. On the bridge to the chorus Elton's left switches to a heavy sound that hammers home with tenacity. The sound of a proper grand piano stepping up and coming through very clearly at that moment.

Overall it's an excellent one off show, an almost full album performance is very rare. Then or now. The marriage of the rhythm section and leader is on full display here. They didn't play on any of the songs on the album performed on this broadcast apart from some backing vocals but they make them their own. Elton's early voice is on the rise to it's defining moment, he still has that slight American twang in there that creeps out every so often. But it's the playing as per usual that seals the deal. The piano man made his stand...

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