American Airlines Center (Dallas, TX)
– Words and Photos by James Villa –
At the risk of giving away my age, Elton John has been around for quite some time now. I remember my sister playing his songs though out most of my early childhood. It was early 1970 when he made his first appearance on North American soil, and since then, he’s been selling out stadiums, arenas, and even enjoyed a residency in Las Vegas. Now, most of my time is spent behind the camera lens, so when the opportunity arose to not only photograph but write about one of the most noted songwriters in music, all I could say was yes, sign me up.
The near capacity crowd at the American Airlines Center on Thursday night was eager to get the show underway; you could almost feel the anticipation as the 8 o’clock hour came and went.
As the fog machines slowly filled the stage the lights went down and out of the shadows appeared Elton wearing a sparkly Goodbye Yellow Brick Road jacket, one of the last traces of a once flamboyant and vibrant ensemble. He then sat down and began to play the first of over 30 songs in what would be a little under three hour set, all of which he played without a break or official intermission.
Most of the evening’s setlist was culled from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, as well as many fan favorites Including “Rocket Man,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Levon,” “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues,” “ Your Song,” and “I’m Still Standing.” Ironically he strayed away from showcasing his late 2013 release, The Diving Board, and focused mainly on what fans would agree was and always will be his most memorable soundtrack. Elton’s captivating stage design this evening was Mark Fisher’s last.
Throughout the evening Elton graciously got up and acknowledged the fans while he spoke of what inspired the songs on this particular evening and how they came about. Overall I felt he connected well with everyone. It’s refreshing to see that even after all these years Elton is still humble and shows a genuine affection toward his fans. As the evening came to a close he graciously came out to shake hands and sign whatever memorabilia fans had managed to bring with them. Four decades and 31 albums later it’s not hard to see why Sir Elton John is still standing.