Sir Elton rockets back to Victoria

PREVIEW

What: Elton John and his band
When: Saturday and Sunday, 8 p.m. (doors at 7)
Where: Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, 1925 Blanshard St.
Tickets: Sold out

 

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This month, Elton John will turn 70 — a milestone for a performer some never thought would make it to 30.

Sir Elton didn’t simply survive his addiction issues. He triumphed.

Now one of the top touring acts, he returns to Victoria for the second time this weekend as part of his latest tour, one with dates booked into December.

With two shows at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on Saturday and Sunday, it’s clear the demand for the Rocket Man has not diminished. His shows in Victoria, the only Canadian ones on his 2017 itinerary, have long been sold out. Since 1970, he has played more than 4,000 concerts in more than 80 countries.

“It’s thrilling to have Sir Elton John coming to Victoria,” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said in a statement. “Victoria has a rich arts and culture scene and having Elton John play here is great profile for our creative culture and great for residents who get to see this wonderful musical icon live.”

John is touring to promote Wonderful Crazy Night, his 33rd studio album. It was named one of the best records of 2016 by Rolling Stone magazine and cracked the Top 10 on the sales charts in both the U.S. and U.K.

John last topped the U.S. singles charts in 1997 with Candle in the Wind, a rewritten version he issued as a tribute to the late Diana, Princess of Wales. It eventually became the biggest-selling song in history, but, according to an excerpt from a forthcoming biography, Captain Fantastic by Tom Doyle, the celebrated AIDS fundraiser is done currying favour with radio programmers in the U.S.

“There comes a point where you have to admit that you’re not going to get played on the radio in America because it’s ageist,” John was quoted as saying on the website Heatstreet. “There’s a whole stream of different music come along now. And you have to face up to it.”

The Crocodile Rock hitmaker has been a staunch supporter of new artists over the years, and has put his name behind everyone from Eminem to Ed Sheeran. Many of his duet partners have gone on to outsell him, a fate to which John has become accustomed.

“My records don’t sell any more because people have enough Elton John records in their collection,” John said last year during an interview with Good Morning Britain. “I love making them, but it’s someone else’s turn now.”

He collaborates with other artists on a regular basis, both in and out of the studio, and appears to have no stylistic barriers; songs with Kanye West, Fall Out Boy, Queens of the Stone Age and A Tribe Called Quest are among his recent collaborations. But while his new recordings have a limited audience, his concert tours have not ebbed in popularity.

The Million Dollar Piano, his long-running Las Vegas residency, remains one of the city’s biggest tourist draws. Since its debut in 2011, the show has grossed more than $83 million US in ticket revenue, according to Billboard. There’s more to come — he’s booked to continue his Sin City run in April and May.

John’s first Las Vegas residency, The Red Piano, grossed a reported $169 million between 2004 and 2008.

The reason for his continued on-stage success is his voluminous catalogue of songs, which includes 29 consecutive Top 40 hits. Another key reason for his enduring appeal is the quality of his concerts. Rave reviews have followed each of his outings.

“My voice, I think, is getting better as I get older,” John told Good Morning Britain. “I’m singing better than I’ve ever done.”

He’s one of the most recognizable people on the planet, but fame has come at a cost. John remains fiercely protective of his family, to the point where he applied for — and won — a U.K. court injunction that would put British journalists in jail for reporting on an unspecified extra-marital affair involving his husband, Scarborough, Ont., native David Furnish.

John has said that his privacy is key for the health of his children, six-year-old Zachary and four-year-old Elijah, according to a statement.

“I am all too aware of how precious the time ahead is. My sons are growing up so quickly. Their early years are just flying by and I want to be there with them.”

 

A hit-friendly weekend setlist

Spoiler alert! If you’re the type of fan who wants to be surprised during Elton John’s concerts this weekend at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, stop reading. The setlist for his current tour is printed below.
The concert appears to run for two and a half hours and cover all facets of his career, from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road — represented here with six songs — to his 1970 self-titled effort, Elton John.
Material from John’s new album, Wonderful Crazy Night, makes an appearance on two occasions, but it appears that fans are getting the hit-friendly version of Sir Elton on Saturday and Sunday.
— Mike Devlin, Times Colonist

1. Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
2. Bennie and the Jets
3. I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
4. Daniel
5. Someone Saved My Life Tonight
6. Looking Up
7. A Good Heart
8. Philadelphia Freedom
9. Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
10. Tiny Dancer
11. Levon
12. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
13. Have Mercy on the Criminal
14. Your Song
15. Burn Down the Mission
16. Sad Songs (Say So Much)
17. Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
18. The Bitch Is Back
19. I’m Still Standing
20. Your Sister Can’t Twist
21. Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

ENCORE

22. Candle in the Wind
23. Crocodile Rock

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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