Piano men Elton John, Leon Russell in fine form in Lakelandhttp://www2.tbo.com/content/2010/nov/21/220747/piano-men-elton-john-leon-russell-in-fine-form-at-/news-breaking/
Staff photo by CHRIS URSO
Elton John performs to a sold out crowd at the Lakeland Center. John performed solo and also with Leon Russell.
Published: November 21, 2010
Updated: 11/22/2010 07:47 am
LAKELAND - Elton John is in a position to do what few fans can — give their faded idol a major label, international spotlight.
John brought Leon Russell out of semi-obscurity for this year's album, "The Union." It does both men proud, and Sunday's concert at the Lakeland Center Arena before a sell-out crowd of 7,200 did not disappoint.
John took the stage to introduce Russell, who began with his 1972 hit, "Tight Rope." Russell took a couple of songs to ease into his comfort zone, it seemed. He sounded genuinely humble talking about the phone call from John that sparked the project, and dedicated a gorgeous "A Song for You" to his piano partner.
Russell quickly picked up steam with a rollicking "Delta Lady" and "Rolling in My Sweet Baby's Arms" which segued into "Stranger in a Strange Land."
John and his band then took the stage. The material was familiar but John played chestnuts such as "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" as if he'd just written them.
Elton John performs to a sold out crowd Sunday. John performed solo and also with Leon Russell.John's status as a celebrity and showman may overshadow his musicianship, but he set that right with two extended codas of "Rocket Man," the first featuring rich, melodic chording and the second a hard, stomping boogie. His piano work was impressive throughout, particularly on "Bennie and the Jets," which featured a loose swing absent on the original.
Russell returned to the stage and the pair ran through most of "The Union." Following a set of hits with a long string of new material could be deadly, but the "Union" songs were so strong, and the performances so compelling, that the show's momentum continued to build.
Russell sounded energized piano and vocal duties with John. "If It Wasn't for Bad" could have been vintage Leon, while "A Dream Come True," co-written by John and Russell, was a rolling, gospel rave-up of the kind that Russell once specialized in.
"Gone to Shiloh" harked back to John's rustic 1971 album "Tumbleweed Connection." John's and Russell's voices intertwined beautifully on the chorus.
"When Love Is Dying" may be the most powerful ballad John has performed since the heyday of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" and "Someone Saved My Life Tonight."
The collaboration obviously has raised Russell's profile, and deservedly so. But it's also lighted a fire under John, who sounded as strong and committed to the new songs as the hits.
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A tribute to a gentleman, songwriter, lyricist, artist and friend...Bernie Taupin. Written by Pat Kelly. Performed by Pat Kelly, Jeff Burke,
Maneli Jamal copyright Pat Kelly 2010 SOCAN.BMI 2010 Produced by Pat Kelly
copyright Pat Kelly 2010
Produced by Pat Kelly