What: Elton John and His Band
Where: Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre
Rating: Four (out of five)
Elton has left the building. But the good news for fans is that he will return tonight for the second of two sold-out shows at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.
Elton John, who returned to Victoria after a five-year break, played to an audience that looked to be north of 8,000 screaming, singing fans. Every seat had a full view of John and his band, which could make it one of the largest attendances in arena history.
Fitting, that. John’s catalogue is practically peerless, with several hits that defined the 1970s. He played the majority of them on Saturday, offering only two new songs (Looking Up and A Good Heart) from his 2016 effort, Wonderful Crazy Night.
He got the new stuff out of the way early, clearing a path for a run of show-stoppers that reached peak power with Rocket Man, Tiny Dancer and Levon.
John was turbo-driven from the start, pushing his nearly three-hour concert forward with a steadfast intensity. His now-husky voice failed him on occasion — Bennie and the Jets was missing its iconic, high-pitched chorus, while Goodbye Yellow Brick Road needed more of the old Elton than he could give. But his piano playing was remarkable, venturing into boogie-woogie territory at some points, and showcasing his classical skills at others.
He stopped every once in a while to speak to the audience — and in the case of those up front, sign autographs shortly before his encore — but he was all about the music on Saturday night.
Support came from a veteran band that includes longtime members Nigel Olsson (drums) and Davey Johnstone (guitar); John also gave a tip of the hat to Bernie Taupin, his songwriting partner of almost five decades. It appeared he was in a melancholic mood; it made sense after John pointed out that he will turn 70 in two weeks.
Dressed in a black-sequined suit, with orange-tinted glasses, John was positively regal, right down to the gold crowns embroidered on his cuffs. He was due to fly to Vancouver shortly after his show on Saturday, and rest with his family, planning to return to Victoria by plane in time for tonight’s show.
Chances are high he will be met with a similar reaction from the crowd, and respond with an equally impressive performance.
This is why they call him Sir Elton. He rarely disappoints.