Friday night Elton John could've been back in his bed, emailing his partner and 3-month-old son, planning his outfit to the Royal Wedding or counting his money a lot earlier in the evening and fans at his Greatest Hits Live show still would've left the KFC Yum! Center happy.
But instead of putting the show on autopilot like a rocket man just doing his job five days a week, the 64-year-old put on an energetic 25-song, 2:49 concert that demonstrated Sir Elton is just as excited about being on stage now as he was when he was a 15-year-old named Reginald Dwight playing the Northwood Hills Hotel pub on weekends.
John took the stage 10 minutes after the scheduled 8 p.m. start, sporting dyed hair, a turquoise shirt and a full-length jacket with tails and Greek goddess of sorts on the back—a subdued appearance by his standards.
Supported by a drummer, percussionist, guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and four backup singers, John's approach to his setlist would've made for a good strategy at a road race: out fast, settle down, finish strong. He opened with "Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" and it wasn't until after "Tiny Dancer" four songs later that many audience members—an older crowd themselves—took their seats.
- A piano solo before "Tiny Dancer" that excited John's band as much as the crowd
- "Rocket Man," which stayed mostly true to the original, save John's smart decision not to try for the high note, before unfolding into a lengthy solo
- The many singalongs throughout the night (no surprise with such a hits-packed setlist), the pinnacle of which was "Crocodile Rock" La, la la la la la
- At the beginning of the encore, John took a few minutes at the front of the stage to sign autographs, accommodating almost every request
- The middle-aged woman in the lobby sporting a black t-shirt with "The Bitch Is Back" written on the front in glitter
A five-song stretch from John's latest release, "The Union," with Leon Russell, might have worked better if it was broken up and the tracks interspersed throughout the show.
"Have a great time next week. Party on baby," John said before ending the show with a one-song encore, "Your Song." Derby fans would do well to leave Churchill on May 7 as happy as Elton fans were leaving The Bucket last Friday.
To see clips of the show, check out Elton John live at Louisville's KFC Yum! Center: The definitive YouTube videos.
The setlist (via setlist.fm):
- Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
- Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)
- Madman Across the Water
- Tiny Dancer
- Philadelphia Freedom
- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
- Rocket Man
- I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues
- Hey Ahab
- The Best Part of the Day
- Gone To Shiloh
- Monkey Suit
- When Love Is Dying (with band introductions before song)
- Sad Songs (Say So Much)
- Take Me To The Pilot
- Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word
- Candle in the Wind
- Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me
- Burn Down the Mission
- Bennie and the Jets
- The Bitch Is Back
- Crocodile Rock
- Your Song (Encore)
Photo: Zach Everson