Elton John has staying power.
The music icon, who has been churning out hits for nearly 50 years and turns 70 this month, played Sunday night for about 2 1/2 hours to a packed Spokane Arena on his “Wonderful Crazy Night” tour.
John took the stage to the synthesizer strains of “Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeeding.” Then he sat down at his piano and proceeded to play hit after hit, with a few tunes mixed in from his 2016 album from which the tour takes its name.
John, in his sparkly black suit and blue shirt, seemed genuinely happy to be on the Arena stage. “As much as I love to make records, I love to play live more,” John said later in the set during one of the few times he took a break from singing to chat with the audience. He barely even left his piano bench. Instead, he checked off fans’ wish lists, singing “Bennie and the Jets,” “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues” and “Daniel” right away. And, when he wasn’t singing, he’d turn to the crowd for a smile or a silly face.
In “Tiny Dancer,” “L.A. lady” became “Spokane lady,” earning cheers from the crowd. Other songs, like “Rocket Man” and “Levon,” got extended piano jams, sometimes proving he can move those fingers up and down the keys as quickly as anyone, other times showing he can pound out the chords with the best of them.
From the coat-and-tie-wearing band members, the lights and the electronic display behind the band (which sometimes had a decidedly 1980s flair), everything screamed “big show.” The crowd was having fun, and spanned the decades even more than his hits, ranging from elementary school age to at least 80s.
The experience outside the Arena wasn’t as happy for many. Long lines stretched from the various entry points, and many people who were in line before 8 p.m. didn’t make it inside for John’s 8:10 start.
John finished off the main set with “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” with band members joining John near the piano and mugging for photos.
After a few minutes, John came back on stage to sign albums, T-shirts and other memorabilia for a select group that had been allowed next to the stage. Then he launched into “Candle in the Wind,” with band members joining in midsong. The band was in a more relaxed mode, most having traded ties for more casual attire.
With just a two-song encore, John ended the night on high note, with the crowd dancing to “Crocodile Rock.”
What a wonderful night it was.
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