Still standing after all this time: Elton John doesn’t disappoint at his Hong Kong performance [Review]

Still standing after all this time: Elton John doesn’t disappoint at his Hong Kong performance [Review]

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Elton John delivers a masterful performance.

Flashing disco lights blasted colours of blue, pink, orange and green onto the thousands of audience ecstatically dancing along to Elton John’s music. “Gonna set this dance alight, cause Saturday night’s the night I like!” declares John, flaunting his shimmering Captain Fantastic suit as his trusted band launches once more into the famous riffs of Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.

And it wasn’t even Saturday night. If anyone can fill up the Hong Kong Cultural and Exhibition Centre on a Tuesday evening, it’s Elton John. Performing classic hits he’s written over the decades, it’s easy to see why he’s one of the most iconic artists of all time. His deft fingers only need to play the first few keys of a piano intro for the crowds to gasp excitedly with recognition. John smiles knowingly at them, eyes hidden behind his pink sunglasses, and serenades his audience with a voice that has only grown stronger through the years.

The concert kicked off with a bang as John entered the stage just 15 minutes after the official start time, diving right into Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding with his band. It was a full display of their incredible techniques: Davey Johnstone’s legendary guitar added a fluid texture that complemented John’s finger-twisting piano sequences, while Nigel Olsson and John Mahon brought the beats with twin drum sets.

The group turned their swagger on for the mid-tempo boogie Bennie and the Jets, followed by several seventies hits, including the beautifully arranged Levon and ballad Tiny Dancer, for which Johnstone took out his double-neck guitar. John introduced Believe as the song with his favourite lyrics: “In the world we live in today, we need a lot of love and we certainly need a lot of hope,” he said.

All the songs were so soulfully performed that it’s hard to pinpoint a specific highlight, but a personal favourite would be Rocket Man. It was just John and the piano, stripped back for the lonely lyrics, but at the same time so melodic and fulfilling. The classically-styled accompaniment is embellished with arpeggios twisted with accidentals to build a subtle tension. Your Song was a heart-melting crowdpleaser, and the entire concert hall seemed to be holding its breath when John crooned out the sad lyrics of Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word. Crocodile Rock and I’m Still Standing are also concert staples, and John delivered enthusiastically.

Watching the animation that accompanies Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, you realise that the quirky images of spinning pianos, angels sitting atop rainbows, kissing garden gnomes and a living octopus dancing in a cocktail cup describe John’s music better than words will ever be able to – a unique wonderland to lose yourself into. 

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