Elton John's Hong Kong concert shows timeless talent

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2012, 3:39am

Elton John and Band

Hong Kong Convention and

Exhibition Centre

December 4

Elton John has achieved a kind of timelessness: his concert at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre could have happened, with one or two minor alterations, at any time in the past few decades. And that suits his audience just fine.

The fifth best-selling musical act of all time is 65 now, these days only slightly flamboyantly costumed and unlikely to risk any stage theatrics.

He is as consummately professional as you'd expect from someone with half a century of performing and 43 years of recording to his name, casually virtuoso in his honky-tonk piano playing and as effortlessly expressive in his vocal phrasing and engaged in his performance as ever.

And he still manages a crowd-pleasing two-and-a-half-hour marathon with his band, running through most of the favourites from his back catalogue.

A regular visitor to Hong Kong, John's current tour is a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the release of breakthrough single Rocket Man.

Like many long-serving acts, most of John's best work comes from early in his career, and the concert's highlights are mostly from before, roughly, 1976. Rocket Man gets him an extended standing ovation and Tiny Dancer is as rousing as ever. Candle in the Wind, meanwhile, prompts a forest of smartphone-shaped candle substitutes to be waved.

Some later efforts, such as I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues, get twists to their arrangement - Nikita is even delivered solo - but most of the classics are played straight.

Either way, it's all lapped up by a sell-out crowd, particularly favourites such as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Daniel, Crocodile Rock and Your Song.

But the HKCEC has its inevitable atmosphere-dissolving effect, keeping people mostly seated (until, appropriately, I'm Still Standing) and sucking audience noise into the rafters.

Elton John can never retire: it would do something strange to the fabric of time.





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