Elton John At Caesars Palace ~ Well Worth Seeing In Las Vegas
Elton Is A Legend And An Icon In Pop Music ~
I remember sitting and waiting for Elton John's show to begin thinking to myself, "This man is an icon, a legend! I can't believe I'm here." I bet if you go to see him, you'll get that same feeling.
From the moment Elton takes the stage, you know there is something very special about to happen. Not only does he play piano amazingly well, he still sounds very similar to the way he did when some of his most well-known, iconic songs first became popular, in the early 1970's.
This night, we sat by a couple who were from Nebraska. She was a music and piano professor from a University in Nebraska who had ties with the Yamaha piano company, the company that made Elton's Million Dollar Piano. And yes, it really DID cost that much! It features 68 LED screens which change scenes according to the song being played.
She told us that the way that Elton touches each key sets a process into motion. He can control the imagery and some of the lighting in the show simply by touching the piano keys. I think sitting by this woman before the show and listening to her descriptions of the piano Elton uses and its workings were almost as fascinating as watching Elton actually play it!
Elton John, born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, began his music career early. He was a child prodigy who began to play piano at the very young age of 4 years old. By age 11, he had received a scholarship to a music academy known as The Royal Academy Of Music. He is, indeed, someone who was born to be a singer/songwriter and piano player.
The night we saw Elton at Caesar's Palace Hotel in Las Vegas in the Coliseum, the show began with music from 2001, A Space Odyssey... you would recognize the music - and if you're like me, it would take you a couple minutes to remember where you've heard that song before! Elton made his entrance wearing a sparkling studded cape and a rhinestone emblazoned suit with shoes that also had... you probably guessed it, rhinestones!
He gratefully took bows and soaked in the raucous applause being bestowed on him. He seems to really appreciate the audience coming to see him perform, and the feeling was mutual. The excitement in the room was almost palpable. He took his seat at the piano and began an amazing rendition of "The B*tch Is Back". From there, he launched into "B B B Benny And The Jets" (spelling intentional). With an emphasis on the "ssssss" in jets too, I might add.
After some playful banter with the audience, he soared into "Rocket Man" with its lyrics like "I miss the earth so much" and "it's just my job five days a week," it's hard to beat the imaginative lyrics that are featured so prominently in so many of Elton John's most famous songs. Elton has a self-deprecating sense of humor, evident in some of his joking with the audience, especially when he tells a joke about his two favorite words "long and hard"... and adds "you people are filthy!"
From there, he goes on to say how some of his songwriting actually is inspired by gospel music and then went into a spine tingling rendition of "Levon."
He talked about how every piano he has ever owned each has its own special name. In the case of this particular "Million Dollar Piano," it's name is "Blossom." The name was inspired by a cabaret singer, jazz performer and pianist named "Blossom Dearie." Nearly every piano name was inspired by performers who inspired Elton at some point in his life in his piano playing. Some of the entertainers have amazing legacies which live on through the nicknames that Elton gives to his piano's.
The next song, "Tiny Dancer" was dedicated to all the women in the audience. From there, he told us the story of how "Your Song" was written and then went into an excellent rendition of the song. The lyrics are brilliant, and it is hard to believe that when the lyrics were written, Bernie Taupin was just eighteen years old. Such wisdom from someone so young. He and Elton have made an incredible songwriting team over the years.
Then, Elton went into an explanation of the places he has been asked to perform and their special meaning. After being asked to perform shortly after Sept. 11 of 2001, in New York City, Elton talked about how difficult it was to decide on the song to play that night.
He remembered a tune from the 1970's called "Mona Lisa's And Mad Hatters," which turned out to be the perfect, most meaningful tune to play for this gathering. The pictures in the background during Elton's rendition of this song created a beautiful portrayal of the true melting pot that is New York City. People from all walks of life felt the same way after these horrendous attacks, they felt in a reflective mood and they had a sense of solidarity in wishing to find out who was responsible for the attacks on their beloved city.
Next was a short song called Never Again, featuring a brilliant performance by Elton's percussionist, whom he introduced later in the show. Elton is surrounded by superior talent evident in all of his players, but the percussionist is the one we found ourselves talking about long after the show was over.
He entertained us with his interesting stories of all the celebrities he has met, everyone from Nelson Mandela to John Lennon... and a true inspiration, Ryan White. You might remember that Ryan White was the young boy from Kokomo, Indiana who contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion. Ryan lost his fight with AIDS at age 18 in 1990. Elton said he was honored to have known him and that Ryan was truly an inspirational person.
He talked about his meetings with and getting to know John Lennon, and about what a tremendous part John played in Elton's life. They got to know one another and Elton was honored to be asked to be Godfather to John and Yoko Lennon's son, Sean, born in 1975. He then dedicated the song "Empty Garden" to his friend whom he dearly misses, John Lennon.
Yellow Brick Road And I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues ~
After Elton's touching tribute to John Lennon, he launches into the upbeat tune, "Yellow Brick Road". The special effects in the background added a lot of personality and extraordinary visual interest to the song, and Elton encouraged the audience to sing along with him. Many of the members of the audience were happy to oblige.
Next up was "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" (time on my hands could be time spent with you)... this is the type of song that you just naturally remember the lyrics to. Some of these songs I hadn't heard in years and it amazed me how the lyrics came right back to me when I attempted to sing along. Sorry 'bout that, Elton... that awful noise you might have heard from the audience could have been ME attempting to sing along with you! My intentions were good even if the sound was horrendous! (Laughing!)
Elton introduced his stellar cast of musicians and performers and each of his four background singers, one of whom is Rose Stone from "Sly And The Family Stone." They all had such beautiful voices and complimented Elton's amazing voice perfectly.
He has got some excellent musicians playing onstage with him as well, including drummer Nigel Olsson and his amazing percussionist, Ray Cooper. Ray got to show off his exceptional, almost otherworldly talent during a solo performance during Elton's next song. The song was a theatrical type of song called "Indian Summer." Elton's vocals were brilliant and his percussionist, Ray Cooper, shined during his solo in the song.
Elton told us how, on the day of this performance, a friend of his had passed away. He had been ill for a while, so it wasn't unexpected, but was sad nonetheless. The man is Bryan Forbes. He had been the producer of a documentary featuring Elton and his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin. Elton dedicated the song "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" to the memory of his good friend, Bryan Forbes.
Philadelphia Freedom was next, with its stunning background effects, including a beautiful Liberty Bell, stars and stripes and what turned out to be one of my favorite photos that I took during Elton's show, a floating rainbow that appeared to be shooting across the background.
From there, he launched into "I'm Still Standing" and once the entire background took on a greenish hue, we knew the next song could only be "Crocodile Rock." "When your feet just can't stand still"... that one brought back memories from High School days gone by!
Once he went into the song "Saturday Night's Alright," a lot of audience members were allowed to go onstage and to surround Elton while he played piano. They were having a wonderful time and thoroughly enjoyed every second of being allowed to be that close to one of our true musical legends and treasures, Mr. Elton John (or Sir Elton John.)
He then left the stage while the audience members were escorted back to their seats and came back out for one more song "The Circle Of Life," which caused my husband to comment that this particular song was the perfect way to end the show. After taking bows with his musicians, background singers and cast, Elton went across the stage shaking hands of all those lucky enough to be near the stage.
Elton John at Caesar's Palace is definitely worth seeing for anyone who loves and remembers this iconic music from the 1970's and 1980's. I can almost promise you that you'll relive those memories and have a wonderful night. I know we did. Thank you, Sir Elton John, for a stellar performance!