Photography by Kathy Paz
On Friday night, the legendary Elton John showed his faithful at Miami’s American Airlines Arena that old rockers never die, delivering a 26-song set that spanned his entire multi-decade career.
The soon-to-be 68-year-old tipped off the evening with a melancholic stroll down 1973’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road courtesy of its sprawling and iconic opening track, “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”. Curiously, he swapped the next two tracks, opting first for the album’s FM staple, “Bennie and the Jets”, before pulling tears from the crowd with the album’s landmark ballad, “Candle in the Wind”.
From there, he dialed back the years to 1971’s Madman Across the Water, bringing the crowd to its feet with thunderous renditions of “Levon”, “Tiny Dancer”, and eventually “Holiday Inn”, reminding us how relevant and timeless his songwriting remains over 40 years later.
That’s not exactly a surprise. After all, there’s a reason John’s a legend; he’s a Knight, a songwriter, a composer, and one of the savviest pianists to ever surface in modern music. These days, he doesn’t need oversized rhinestone glasses, feathered boas, or platform heels. He lets the music speak for itself, which is why he entertained Miami in simply dark navy garb with a dust of rainbow sequins.
But what a showman! From underneath a dazzling, multi-colored chandelier and behind his trusty piano, naturally supported by guitarist Davey Johnston, drummer Nigel Olsson, and percussionist John Mahon, John regaled the crowd with stories of yesteryear, reminiscing about writing songs with Bernie Taupin, his partner who “paved the road to the top”; living life with his husband David Furnish and their two boys; and, of course, being supported by his fans.
The South Florida crowd responded accordingly by dancing, singing, and standing up for countless ovations. As such, John continued his journey, delivering his rock ‘n’ roll wizardry that bathed everyone in gold until deep into the night. “The Bitch Is Back”, “I’m Still Standing”, “Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n Roll)”, and “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting)” — holy crap.
Of course, there had to be an encore. The idea was designed specifically for entertainers like Elton John. Refusing to retire, he strolled back on out to deliver his rapturous Disney single “Circle of Life” from 1994’s The Lion King, only to cap off the incendiary night with the warm and friendly “Crocodile Rock”.
Bottom line: Youth is just a word.
Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
Bennie and the Jets
Candle in the Wind
All the Girls Love Alice
Philadelphia Freedom (Elton John Band song)
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Burn Down the Mission
Sad Songs (Say So Much)
Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word
Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
The Bitch Is Back
I’m Still Standing
Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n Roll)
Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting
Circle of Life