Sunday, October 7, 2007

Mizzou Review

If the prospect of seeing a 60-year-old man put on a good ol’ fashioned rock show interests you, chances are you were at Mizzou Arena last night.

And if you were there, you’d know you weren’t alone. Instead it was likely you got lost in the crowd, estimated at 14,600, as Elton John appeared on the arena stage to a roaring crowd representing a spectrum of ages and backgrounds, from the youthful pop fans to the hard-core followers that came wrapped in scarves and boas or hidden behind outlandishly adorned sunglasses a la the Rocket Man himself.

The audience welcomed John, who took the stage a little after the scheduled 8 p.m., cheering so uproariously you’d think MU had already beaten Nebraska.

The energy of the crowd was so frenetic that John’s 12-minute opener - "Funeral For a Friend (Love Lies Bleeding)" - seemed to last seconds. With true showmanship, John jumped right into the lively "Bitch is Back," which kept the audience on its feet.

If you arrived late and heard the crowd booing, it was only at John’s mention of his next appearance - in Omaha.

Winning back the crowd simply took an offering of "Tiny Dancer."

The entire show was a string of hits, as the bill was promoted to be, filled with radio favorites such as "Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting" and "Crocodile Rock" as well as other chart toppers such as "Daniel" or "Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word."

Even non-die-hard fans of John or his music could have appreciated the spectacular performance he put on. Although he played with a six-piece band, John carried the show, playing mostly behind a stalwart grand piano among the glamorous amplitude of drums, guitars and keys amid an elaborate lightshow.

Next to lean, long-haired rock players, John seemed almost stodgy in his black tailcoat and slacks. Though he was not center stage, there was no doubt whose show it was.

The transition from rockers to ballads was sometimes abrupt and sometimes came within the same song.

John, known for elaborating on songs during live performances, took great liberties to turn "Rocket Man" into a three-part song consisting of ballad, rock freakout and ambiguous fadeout.

Although the Mizzou Arena staff might have been ready to call it a night by 10:30 p.m., neither John nor the crowd showed any sign of fatigue. The audience waited eagerly for John’s encore, when he played "Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me" and "Your Song."

After Omaha, John will go on to play a few more Midwest shows, performing next Saturday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City before a three-week stint in Las Vegas.

The Missouri School of Journalism’s Pictures of the Year International program presented Sir Elton John with a welcoming gift during a one-on-one meeting with the singer before his Friday night concert at Mizzou Arena.

John received a portfolio of 20 documentary photos from the program’s archive that depict the fight against the AIDS/HIV epidemic.

John, who has a private photo gallery in Atlanta, is a major contributor to AIDS and HIV research through his organization, The Elton John AIDS Foundation.

“This gift to Sir Elton John is a symbol of our respect for his love of photography and admiration for his noble efforts,” said POYi Director Rick Shaw.

POYi, one of the oldest photojournalism competitions in the world, is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at MU’s School of Journalism.

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