Elton John Saluted By John Mayer,
Vanessa Carlton, Others
Norah Jones, Nikka Costa, Elvis Costello,
Brian Wilson, Ray Charles also on hand.
Jewel and John Mayer at the Elton John
Photo: Michael Caulfield/WireImage.com
ANAHEIM, California — Along with selling
millions of his own records every year, Elton John likes to champion a
few of his favorite up-and-comers and help expose their music to the masses.
Artist Grammy nominees John Mayer, Norah
Jones and Vanessa Carlton, joined past favorites like Nikka Costa and Rufus
Wainwright in repaying John by singing his classics in a tribute concert
The event, a benefit for music education
sponsored by Yamaha as part of the 2003 International Music Products Association
winter conference, also featured some of John's influences, ranging from
Brian Wilson to Ray Charles, entertaining a near-capacity crowd at the
Fifteen artists performed John numbers
before the man of the hour (three, actually) took the stage for his own
show, which mixed hits from 2001's Songs From the West Coast with classics
like "The Bitch Is Back" and "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues."
Of all the acts on the bill, Mayer was
the sole performer who actually got to duet with John, sharing verses on
a moving version of "Sacrifice" (which John introduced as his first #1
single) midway through the English legend's set.
Jones' appearance also stood out, as she
was the only artist whose own band joined her, for a jazzy take on "Tiny
Dancer" with an extended guitar solo. That's not to say John's band, including
longtime drummer Nigel Olsson and guitarist Davey Johnstone, weren't consistently
impressive throughout the night.
Carlton chose the newer "Don't Let the
Sun Go Down on Me" for her tribute, and although the singing was shaky
at times, she entertained the older audience by leaving the piano midway
through and dancing energetically around the stage.
"Will & Grace" star Eric McCormack
hosted the event, sharing comical stories of his childhood fascination
with John and delivering one-liners. "I need to inform you of some last-minute
cancellations," he said at one point. "Winona Ryder won't be singing 'Sorry
Seems to Be the Hardest Word' after all."
McCormack even sang "Captain Fantastic,"
shocking the crowd with his solid voice.
Other highlights included Jewel's twangy
rendition of "Your Song," Brian McKnight's spot-on "Rocket Man" and Charles'
touching "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word."
After Yamaha president Terry Lewis presented
John with the Lifetime Achievement in Musical Excellence Award, all of
the evening's performers took the stage, along with Elvis Costello, to
squeal the "wah, wah wah wah wah wah" chorus of the finale, "Crocodile
* Nikka Costa - "Levon"
* Rufus Wainwright
- "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"
* Eric McCormack -
* Bruce Hornsby - "Burn
Down the Mission"
* Jewel - "Your Song"
* Brian McKnight -
* Norah Jones - "Tiny
* Brian Wilson - "Someone
Saved My Life Tonight"
* Randy Newman - "Bennie
and the Jets"
* Diana Krall - "Border
* Take 6 - "Philadelphia
* Vanessa Carlton -
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
* Ray Charles - "Sorry
Seems to Be the Hardest Word"
* Michael McDonald
- "Take Me to the Pilot"
* Carmen Twillie and
Circle of Life Choir - tribute to "The Lion King"
* Elton John - "Funeral
for a Friend," "I Want Love, "The Wasteland," "I Guess That's Why They
Call It the Blues, "Sacrifice" (with John Mayer), "Original Sin," "I'm
Still Standing," "The Bitch is Back," "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting,"
— Corey Moss