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+ Leon Russell

New York - Madison Square Garden
16 marzo 2011


    Elton e band
  • Funeral for a Friend
  • Love Lies Bleeding
  • Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)
  • Levon
  • Madman Across the Water
  • Tiny Dancer
  • Philadelphia Freedom
  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  • I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues
  • Rocket Man

    Elton e band con Leon Russell
  • If It Wasn’t For Bad
  • Hey Ahab
  • Best Part of the Day
  • Gone To Shiloh (with Gregg Allman)
  • Monkey Suit
  • When Love Is Dying
  • Never Too Old (To Hold Somebody)
  • Dream Come True

    Elton e band
  • Sad Songs (Say So Much)
  • Take Me To The Pilot
  • Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
  • Candle in the Wind - (Solo)
  • Burn Down the Mission
  • Bennie and the Jets
  • Bitch is Back
  • Crocodile Rock (con la figlia di Davey Johnstone alle percussioni)

  • Your Song

da Rolling Stone

Music: Elton John Performs With Surprise Guests Leon Russell and Gregg Allman at Madison Square Garden


Until that point the show had been a standard Elton John arena concert. As usual, he opened with the prog-rock majesty of "Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" before ripping into "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" as the largely boomer audience danced in the aisles. "Madison Square Garden is my favorite place to play," John told the audience. "It's the home of so many memories in my career, and not one bad one."

John then proceeded to play a trio of songs from his 1971 classic LP Madman Across The Water. Everybody knew "Levon" and "Tiny Dancer," but it was a bold move to break out the long, progged-out title track. Some fans squirmed in their seats as guitarist Davey Johnston expertly recreated his complex acoustic guitar parts from the album, but they were rewarded with a bombastic "Philadelphia Freedom" and a sing-along "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."

The Leon Russell portion of the show – during which the duo played eight consecutive songs from their new LP The Union – further tested the patience of casual fans. "I know you like to hear songs you know," John told the audience. "But we can't just play the same old songs forever." Upbeat tracks like "Hey Ahab" and "Monkey Suit" worked quite well in the massive space, but slower tunes like "When Love Is Dying" and "Best Part Of The Day" didn't connect like they did when John and Russell played them at the intimate Beacon Theater last year. Maybe it would have been better to throw in a couple of Russell's classic hits instead.

Before the John/Russell Civil War epic "Gone To Shiloh" began, roadies brought out an extra microphone stand and a lyric sheet on a stand. Out walked Gregg Allman (on break from the Allman Brothers' Beacon Theater run) to sing Neil Young's verse from the album. He seemed woefully underprepared and it was hard to hear much of anything he sang, but the crowd was overjoyed by his presence nevertheless.

For the final third of his show John returned to his greatest hits. I could happily go the rest of my life without hearing "Crocodile Rock" again, but when 18,000 people screamed with delight after the first note I found myself standing and singing along about Suzy wearing her dresses tight along with everybody else. As cool as it would be to hear him bust out "I Am Your Robot" or " I Feel Like A Bullet In The Gun Of Robert Ford," they would almost certainly lead to a mass bathroom exodus. Nobody knows that better than Elton does, which is why we got "The Bitch Is Back," the long version of of "Take Me To The Pilot" and a gorgeous rendition of " Candle In The Wind."

Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson get a lot of attention for their "never-ending tours," but in the past 15 years Elton has done just as many shows as they have. It's clear that he feeds off the crowd's enthusiasm, and even after the show passed the three-hour mark he looked more than capable of carrying on for another hour or two. (It's almost as if he traded his drug addiction for a touring addiction.)

This show was his 61st concert at Madison Square Garden, building upon the record he set on his 60th birthday four years ago. It's probable that he played "Your Song" at every single one of those 61 shows. It was the grand finale at this one, and even though he's sung it about as many times as Wayne Newton has sung "Danke Schoen," he still poured every bit of himself into it. It's the only way he knows how to operate.