Thursday, March 13, 2008

Elton at "The Bob"

A review of Elton at "The Bob" and a YouTube clip from the show...

Elton John still dazzles audiences after all these years

By CHUCK DARROW • Courier-Post Staff • March 13, 2008

Elton John presented a far different show than the one we came to know and love during his 1970s heyday while making the only regional stop of his current "Rocket Man" solo tour Monday night at the Bob Carpenter Center on the University of Delaware campus in Newark.

Then, he was the "Rock 'n' Roll Liberace," a highly amped, highly camp, almost cartoonish force of nature in electric suits who fronted a full-tilt band capable of blowing the roof off even the most hangar-like hockey arena.

Monday, however, saw what Jerry Seinfeld might describe as the "Bizarro" Elton John, a complete opposite anchored to his piano stool accompanied only by the occasional keening of canned strings.

But that's exactly what made the 27-song, 2 1/2-hour recital so special.

Stripped of all artifice and visual distractions, the program consisted merely of Elton, his almost-supernatural canon of memorable, meaningful songs and an appreciative -- make that worshipful -- sold-out audience that bathed itself in the warmth of those familiar lyrics and embracing melodies.

With little to hide behind, Elton -- Sir Elton to the Anglophiles among us -- had to be in nothing less than spectacular voice. Given his highly documented cocaine abuse in the 1970s and '80s, it's nearly miraculous that he has any voice at all today. That it may be more rich and powerful than ever is simply off the charts.

Like those of the best male singers before him, Elton's voice has aged nicely. Though not as piercing as they once were, his pipes are now nicely burnished.

Monday, his throaty, mature baritone gave ample emotional heft to any number of minor-key meditations, imbuing them with a melancholy and world-weariness the younger Elton just couldn't provide.

This was especially true on the autumnal "60 Years On," an emotive reading of "Border Song" and the appropriately evocative "Rocket Man," which boasted a coda during which he showed off some impressive stride-piano chops.

And that wasn't EJ's only display of keyboard dexterity. Throughout the evening, his considerable talents as a keyboardist were on display, from the boogie-woogie playfulness of "Crocodile Rock" to the look-at-me-showing-off on the classically inspired instrumental piece "Carla Etude."

If there was a drawback Monday, it was Sir Elton lingered too long in Balladville. But this only served to make the sporadic up-tempo numbers more valuable.

"Honky Cat" didn't miss any support instrumentation; his barrelhouse riffing happily propelled it into the stratosphere. Plus, "Philadelphia Freedom" was a pedal-to-the-metal sprint around the track that served as an emphatic reminder the British pop icon is certainly not too old to rock 'n' roll.

Among the show's other highlights were a typically crowd-pleasing rendition of "Candle in the Wind," an exceptionally muscular "Levon" and a version of "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" on which he sounded a lot like his old chum, Billy Joel, musically and vocally. Reach Chuck Darrow at (856) 486-2442 or

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Look at the Lost Weekend

Intersting article about May Pang's new book "Instamatic Karma";
A Fond Look at Lennon’s ‘Lost Weekend’

Published: March 12, 2008

If there’s one thing that May Pang has been fighting for the last 28 years, it’s the idea that John Lennon was depressed, isolated and out of control during the 18 months she lived with him, from the summer of 1973 to early 1975, when he reconciled with his second wife, Yoko Ono.

Lennon himself fostered that notion by referring to the time as his “Lost Weekend” in interviews he gave in 1980, when he released “Double Fantasy,” a joint album with Ms. Ono that was his return to music-making after five years’ silence. And lurid, oft-repeated tales of a drunken Lennon’s being evicted from the Troubadour, a nightclub in Los Angeles, seemed to support that image.

But to Ms. Pang, now 57, the “Lost Weekend” was a remarkably productive time, during which Lennon completed three albums — “Mind Games,” “Walls and Bridges” and “Rock ’n’ Roll” — produced albums for Ringo Starr and Harry Nilsson, and recorded with David Bowie, Elton John and Mick Jagger. And having already detailed these experiences (along with the Troubadour expulsions and other dark moments) in “Loving John,” her 1983 memoir, Ms. Pang has returned with the photographic evidence.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Ventures: "Walk, Don't Run"

The Dave Clark Five: "Can't You See That She's Mine"

I close my eyes and I am back in the living room at my parents house putting on track 1 on "The Dave Clark Five Return" on my mothers stereo console listening to;

Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame inductees

Elton John favorites
Elton John favoritesSome of Elton's favorites have been inducted into the Rock-n-Roll Hall Of Fame. Leonard Cohen and The Ventures along with The Dave Clark Five, John Mellencamp and Madonna. The Ventures put out one of the best Christmas records EVER so I am very happy to see them inducted. Madonna? Egh!

Canadian poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen will be inducted into the U.S.-based Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Monday by Lou Reed, the gravel-voiced singer who was once the Velvet Underground's guitarist.

The similarly deep-voiced Cohen is to be inducted into the Cleveland-based Hall of Fame in a ceremony at New York's Waldorf Astoria on Monday evening.
Elton John favorite, Canadian poet and singer Leonard Cohen sings in Warsaw, Poland, in 2007. Damien Rice is to sing one of Cohen's songs at his induction Monday into the Rock Hall of Fame.Canadian poet and singer Leonard Cohen sings in Warsaw, Poland, in 2007. Damien Rice is to sing one of Cohen's songs at his induction Monday into the Rock Hall of Fame.
(Alik Keplicz/Canadian Press)

Pop singer Madonna, blues-rocker John Mellencamp, British boy band The Dave Clark Five and instrumental group The Ventures also are to be inducted this year.

A group of 600 music industry professionals annually choose a handful of artists for induction.

Irish folk singer Damien Rice will perform one of Cohen's songs as part of the induction ceremony.

Cohen, 73, is being hailed as the "folk rock icon of the singer-songwriter movement."

A member of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, he is known for songs such as Suzanne, Hallelujah and Bird on a Wire.

It would be a stretch to call Cohen a rock star, says Ira Nadel, author of biography Various Positions: A Life of Leonard Cohen.

The honour is instead a recognition that Cohen's songs have been covered by dozens of rock 'n roll stars, from Elton John to Joe Cocker to Bono, Nadel told CBC News.

"Leonard Cohen is foremost a composer and secondarily perhaps a singer," Nadell said. "But this is what he's been looking for — a recognition of his significance as a songwriter."

Nadell said Cohen's following continues to grow, especially in Europe where fans are charmed by his far-from-idealized view of life and love.

"It's his melancholy. No one speaks to life like Leonard Cohen," he said. "It's a recognition that life is not romantic. It's about what you lose and what you gain.

"A concert tour of the U.S., Canada and Europe, Cohen's first in 15 years, begins in May.

Madonna, who has sustained a pop career since bursting on the scene with Holiday in 1982, will be inducted by Justin Timberlake.

Punk rocker Iggy Pop will salute her work, which includes hits Like a Virgin, Material Girl, Crazy For You, Papa Don't Preach and Vogue.

Madonna made her debut as a film director at this year's Berlin Film Festival and has an album, Hard Candy, ready for release in April.

The Rock Hall of Fame requires inductees to have a 25-year track record, so this is the first year she is eligible to be inducted.

The induction of The Dave Clark Five comes less than a month after the death of lead singer Mike Smith, 64. He died of pneumonia, four years after being paralyzed from the waist down because of a spinal cord injury.

The Dave Clark Five, rivals to the Beatles during the 1960s British invasion, are known for hits such as Glad All Over. The group will be inducted by Tom Hanks.

Mellencamp, who has been known as John Cougar and John Cougar Mellencamp, will be inducted by Billy Joel and plans to perform one of his own songs.

He began as a folk rocker in the 1970s and became a voice of America's heartland with hits like Pink Houses and Ain't That America.

The Ventures were a 1960s surfer group who sang Walk, Don't Run and the theme from TV's Hawaii 5-O.

Members Bob Bogle, Nokie Edwards, Gerry McGee, Mel Taylor and Don Wilson are reuniting to perform at the ceremony. They are to be inducted by John Fogerty.

Review: Elton in Delaware

Elton John in Delaware
Good review except for this statement: "The vast majority of his set came from the '70s, his most prolific decade, and he thankfully bypassed much of his more modern work."

Well...what do you expect.

Elton John delivers to sold-out crowd

By RYAN CORMIER, The News Journal
Posted Tuesday, March 11, 2008

NEWARK -- When it was first announced, Elton John's concert in Newark seemed like a take-the-money-and-run gig for the legendary pop star.

Tickets for Monday night's show at the Bob Carpenter Center, a cavernous basketball arena, cost up to $125 to see John without a backing band.

Throw in the fact that he's never performed in Delaware before and it was easy to imagine John breezing through a quick 90-minute set, jumping on his bus and leaving us in the dust.

But wait. There was John on CNN's "Larry King Live" two weeks ago, talking about his love for performing for his fans and declaring, "I never play for less than two hours and 30 minutes, anywhere."

For the hungry Delaware audience, which was filled with fans who were old enough to know firsthand that he has never performed here before, John kept his word Monday with a two hour, 30-minute concert, packed with a seemingly endless string of hits, along with a few deep cuts from his 29 studio albums.

It didn't take long for John to apologize from behind his red-tinted glasses for taking so long to get to Delaware.

"I suddenly realized I hadn't played in Delaware and that made me sad," John said. "I'm sorry it's taken so long, but I'm glad I'm here."

Dressed in a sequined black tuxedo and a purple shirt with a full-length jacket with "Music Magic" written on the back in yellow, John, 60, walked on stage promptly at 8 p.m., diving straight into "Your Song," followed by four more songs from his self-titled 1970 album.

With a large diamond-encrusted cross hanging from his neck, John pored through his songbook, giving his fans a guided tour through his career. John played his black piano throughout the night, augmented with a pre-taped electronic orchestration for some songs, including a somber "Rocket Man" and "Tiny Dancer," which sparked an "Almost Famous"-inspired sing-along in the audience.

However, there was a glitch with the system during "Sacrifice," when an ear-piercing screech sounded during the song. John played on and somehow rescued the song.

The vast majority of his set came from the '70s, his most prolific decade, and he thankfully bypassed much of his more modern work.

"Ballad of the Boy in the Red Shoes," from 2001's "Songs From the West Coast," was the only song released in the past 18 years that made it onto the set list. John was decidedly political as he introduced the song, which is about a man suffering from AIDS, saying, "Ronald Reagan did nothing for people with AIDS and that's a disgrace."

John mainly leaned on his earlier work with lyricist Bernie Taupin, bouncing from his super hits like "Bennie and the Jets" and "Daniel" to more obscure songs like 1985's "Nikita" and 1974's "Ticking."

Last month, the concert's 4,500 tickets sold out almost immediately. Delaware was one of only three states that had not yet hosted a concert. He is scheduled to perform in Vermont and Alaska later this year.

For Delaware, his 27-song set was worth the wait. Sure, John's voice isn't what it once was, but his elegant piano playing has never wavered.

He clearly has a deep connection with his fans through song, as seen during "Candle in the Wind," which had fans holding their lighters and cell phones in the air, or "Crocodile Rock," which had those same fans rushing up to the stage to dance.

John said his long-awaited visit to Delaware had been refreshing: "I love what I do and it's great coming to places like this."
Contact Ryan Cormier at 324-2863 or

More UK dates

Elton John announces more UK dates

Elton John announces UK dates

By Kat Dibbits

ELTON John has announced that he will bring his outrageous Las Vegas show, The Red Piano, to Britain this year.

The singer will play three dates, at the Liverpool Echo Arena on December 17 and Birmingham NIA on November 19, finishing at the MEN Arena in Manchester on December 20.

The Red Piano show, which was created by Elton's friend David LaChapelle, has been running at the Vegas casino Caesar's Palace since 2004. Elton took the show to London's 02 arena in 2007 as part of his 60th birthday celebrations.

Elton said: "I can't wait to see how audiences react to the Red Piano.

"The show is stuffed with hits, it's brash, bright and colourful. Over the past four years we have played almost 200 Red Piano shows at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas and every single one has been an event - the band and I have had a ball!"

Tickets go on sale at 9am on Friday, March 14. To book, visit or ring 0844 847 2453.