Elton returned to the Richmond Coliseum on September 5, 2002, four years after he last packed the venue to capacity, reported Melissa Ruggieri for the Richmond Times-Dispatch on September 6, 2002.
[Ed. Not the EJW.com base in Richmond UK, we hastened to add, but the town of Richmond in the USA.]
In his bright purple suit and trademark sunglasses, Elton turned out a reliable 2½-hour show.
A TelePrompTer sat next to Elton’s baby grand – an indication not so much of age, but of a natural inability to remember the words to so many classics.
After opening with Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, Elton immediately popped up from behind his piano to shake hands with stage-leaners and collect outstretched roses.
During the familiar Bennie & The Jets, two video screens flanking the otherwise naked stage zoomed in on Elton’s stubby fingers – a wedding ring adorning his left hand – as they massaged the keyboard.
You have to wonder how much improvisation goes into that song each night just to keep Elton interested in playing it for the gazillionth time.
Backed by his razor-sharp five-piece band, including stalwarts Davey Johnstone on guitar and original drummer Nigel Olsson, Elton leaned heavy on oldies including Daniel, Philadelphia Freedom, his love letter to New York, Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters and an extended take on Rocket Man. Even the little-played Holiday Inn made an appearance.
But Elton didn’t let the crowd forget to promote his latest album, the fine, Songs From the West Coast.
Interestingly, much of the new material rings with as much melancholy as the old – the searching soul in I Want Love and the heavy, nostalgic heart of This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore.
The latter tune Elton dedicated to John Mayer, the upstart singer/songwriter performing at Brown’s Island the same night, who was also in attendance. Elton called the 24-year-old Mayer “one of the finest songwriters I’ve heard in many, many years,” and later covered the pensive ballad of another fledgling rocker, Ryan Adams’ Oh My Sweet Carolina.
Well done to him for exerting his artistic freedom in this very Republican area by taking aim at the (former U.S. President Ronald) Reagan administration before the stunning Ballad of the Boy in the Red Shoes and later singing American Triangle, the story of murdered gay teen Matthew Shepard.
Rockers included I’m Still Standing and Pinball Wizard prompted the requisite arm-pumping motions, while Johnstone’s slide guitar on the revitalized Tiny Dancer lit up the Coliseum.
Following is the complete set list of the Richmond show on September 5, 2002:
- Funeral For A Friend
- Love Lies Bleeding
- Bennie And The Jets
- Someone Saved My Life Tonight
- Ballad Of The Boy In The Red Shoes
- Philadelphia Freedom
- The Wasteland
- Rocket Man
- I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues
- I Want Love
- This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore
- Take Me To The Pilot
- Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters
- Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
- Oh My Sweet Carolina
- American Triangle
- Have Mercy On The Criminal
- Holiday Inn
- Tiny Dancer
- Original Sin
- I’m Still Standing
- Crocodile Rock
- Pinball Wizard
Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On MeYour Song