Elton John wows fans in Wheeling, W.Va.
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 07:09
Sir Elton John surprised many West Virginians by appearing at the Wesbanco Arena in Wheeling, W.Va., Tuesday for his Rocket Man Tour 2012.
Even though Tuesday’s show was the 65-year-old man’s fourth night in a row, it might as well have been a Saturday night fight. No one would have had even a hint of suspicion John was suffering from bronchitis if he hadn’t announced an apology to the packed arena.
Although he didn’t hold back his energy and talent, it would have been nice to hear John talk more personally to the crowd. Nevertheless, the performance was full of great, booming music and captivating, starry light shows.
John was accompanied by an 11-member band, including original ‘70s members in guitarist Davey Johnstone and drummer Nigel Olsson. Four backup singers sang soulfully, including Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inductee Rose Stone.
Newly-added bassist Matt Bissonette filled in very well for Robert Wayne Birch, who died last month. Keyboardist Kim Bullard created enough beautiful atmospheres to excite any electronic lover. Another drummer played auxiliary percussion, including bongos and cymbals, as well as performed backup vocals. The two cellists warmed up the crowd with a few minutes of distorted covers of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Highway to Hell."
The man in the studded coat and blue shades played all his favorite hits, as well as some of his own choices. You danced, you laughed, you cried and if you couldn’t yell out the lyrics to "Rocket Man" or "Tiny Dancer," then you couldn’t help but sing the "nanana" in "Crocodile Rock."
All night the crowd jumped up and moved to upbeat jams like "Honky Cat" and "Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting" swayed their lighters and phones to "Candle in the Wind" and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and sat down with smiles, intently listening to "Holiday Inn" and "Daniel," among many others.
Music lovers heard endless amounts of John and his band’s effortlessly impressive improvisation.
The crowd sat at the edges of their seats during "Funeral for a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding" as the keyboardist created fantastic clouds of sound and harmonic planes until each member of the band slowly joined in for an outstanding, instrumental introduction.
John dedicated "Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters" to the United States in honor of the 9/11 tragedy.
Throughout the night, John couldn’t hide his generosity and kindness. The smiling British man constantly got off his piano bench to point to the crowd and thank everyone for being there. He thanked and introduced his entire band to the audience.
Once he came back for his encore, he spent a good 15 minutes patrolling the stage, signing an immense amount of shirts, albums and signs. It was a sight to leave any fan delighted.
Finally, he sat back down and dedicated to everyone, "Your Song." Whether he made the decision himself or not, it was a thrill to hear John in West Virginia before he went back to London.
John will return to the area for a show in Pittsburgh Oct. 16.