Monday, May 11, 2015

'Revving The Jazz Up'

Lazing on a sunny afternoon...not. The work rate dished out and the reciprocating feedback was not something anybody of a loungey attitude would be able for whilst in the vicinity of this show.

Thanks to this brief but bountiful pro shot presentation of Elton's appearance at the New Orleans Jazzfest last weekend we too can work up our own sweat from just watching. The first thing that struck me was the late afternoon/early evening setting was visually very similar in impact as the Central Park concert in 1980. Capturing that same standpoint were frequent crowd shots from a high altitude helicopter which gave a grandiose view of the much smaller crowd than the one that stood on the lawn all those years ago. But the comparisons with that earlier barnstorming show didn't end there though. 

This time last year I put forward the case for Elton to gatecrash Glastonbury, kick some heads in and dish out a few slaps.  All metaphorically on the piano of course! Bonnaroo last year kick started this new curtain for or's bound to ultimately end up in that field in the south of England. It's also been said recently that the current touring setup is rocking harder than ever. Which is a good indicator for the new album. Apart from that acknowledgement of the future release there'll be no further comment here until I've heard it. Plenty of others have poked into that dark room and have felt the humps. Maybe it's a camel, maybe it's not. Anyway, further evidence of this fact is highlighted on this short broadcast, Levon being the first to pitch up. Taking up nearly a quarter of the entire broadcast...and for good reason.

I said on my review of last December's show that Levon in 2015 shouldn't be missed. And who knew I would be soon as the touchpaper for the outro is incinerated, there's nobody able to call Elton or the band back. Heading off with his own tail wind as an accelerant, Elton hammers and drills his way through a route that has many straight lines, each incredibly wide. Every band member is (and on) key here. Davey with his sweet licks that he can rein in and out as Elton repositions himself each time to attack from another direction. One such bombardment finds Kim and Elton locked in a wrestling match that blurs the lines you know you want to of piano and organ. The elongating of the jam from the end of last year is now reaching critical mass. Matt on a couple of occasions stops the bass in order to refresh the main theme of the musical melding as John hands out to the crowd just what is needed...more cowbell. It's at this point when it seems as if the steady pace has become the accepted point of departure Nigel butts in. Having so much fun as Elton would declare in a later song that evening, with his welcome always...he signals a new phase with his tempo change. Just like his skin slapping moment on the outro to Bite Your Lip at Central Park his relentless 'stop gallop', like running on the spot or spinning tyres, ramps up the tension between everyone on stage. Nobodies going anywhere until Nigel engages gear. Elton takes cue from this as Matt's bass hesitates with a heavy line, Kim's organ line like a scream waiting to be uncoiled. But it's not over yet. Coming around for a third time, they all begin to find the necessary gear to engage with. Opposing teeth interconnecting at speed and precision as within an instant full power has been regained with the throttle wide open. 

By the end of it the usual odd mix at festivals...sightseers, day trippers and even music fans...will have been snapped into attention. 

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is excellently broadcast here, the orchestral mix high up and to the fore. Saturday Night's Alright again has Central Park over tones. When Davey assumes command on the jam it's up front rock with no veil of softness over it. That softness is further trampled underfoot as the introduction of the breakdown section is a temporary fusion of feedback and Elton's heavy left hand killing it gently in the background. Even as the crowd participation section tails off the re-engagement of the main riff is still waiting to be called back in as another fusion contrasting moment takes place between Matt's banging bassline and Elton's crystal bright up and down lines.

The curtain might have begun dropping for the final time...but it'll be like draining the ocean with a tea cup. A very long process...

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