By GUY DASTOLFO
Elton John went deep into his landmark "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" album for Saturday's concert at the Covelli Centre.
The British rocker has lately been highlighting the album, which marked its 40th anniversary last year, and he opened the show with four songs from it: "Funeral for a Friend/Live Lies Bleeding," "Bennie and the Jets," "Candle in the Wind" and "Grey Seal."
He would play five more from it before the two-hour, 40 minute concert's end.
The title cut, as well as "All the Girls Love Alice" and "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" were in the set. But Sir Elton went much deeper than that. He threw in "I've Seen That Movie Too," which he had only played in concert one other time. He closed the show with a raucous "Your Sister Can't Twist," before the encore.
Saturday's concert was the first of the year for Elton John and his band, and it marked the resumption of his tour after a long break.
While the greatest hits show was much the same as the 2010 concert at the Covelli, there were some new songs on the list, and the production values were stepped up.
Synchronized lights played across a giant chandelier light fixture mounted over the stage, while an electronic backdrop flashed ever-changing lighting and scenery, including an undulating American flag on a chugging version of "Philadelphia Freedom."
Sir Elton himself was clad in blue tails, adorned with spangles and bearing the "Madman Across the Water" logo on the back, while his five-piece band donned dark suits and ties.
The Rock 'n Roll Hall of Famer always enjoys himself on stage, and genuinely appreciates the opportunity to play for his fans, although he appeared to battle a slightly hoarse throat. He again signed autographs from the Covelli stage before launching an encore of "Your Song," which he dedicated to fans, and "Crocodile Rock."
During "Bennie and the Jets," the rocker hot-dogged it on his piano for the crowd of 7,200 – the largest ever at the Covelli – while scat-shouting the lyrics.
Another highlight was the classy take on "Rocket Man," with the pianist soloing under a single spotlight for the intro.
Two songs from the new album, 2013's "The Diving Board," were mixed into the show: "Home Again" and "Oceans Away." The latter, the rocker explained, commemorates the soldiers who fought for our freedom, drawing a roar from the audience. The song, which marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, is a sad lament with a plaintive piano line.
Of course, the essence of any Elton John concert is the piano, the instrument that has always set his music apart. The details that have become his signature were never glossed over, including the thunderous bottom riff on "Someone Saved My Life Tonight."
The rocker also did some honky-tonk playing on "Hey Ahab," a big, brassy song from the 2010 collaboration with Leon Russell, and gave "Sad Songs Say So Much" an extra-rollicking pace.