He still wears his colorful, sequined jackets and shirts, and plays his piano like there’s no tomorrow.
But during his performance at Caesars Palace Las Vegas Wednesday, it was clear how much, Elton John, the ’70s master of good-time rock ‘n’ roll, has matured the ’70s master of good-time rock ‘n’ roll has matured over the years as a musician and a human being. Some 2015 IMEX America participants were able to witness the extraordinary performance (Disney graciously invited me to join them).
Since 1967, John has teamed with Bernie Taupin to write the vast majority of his songs. Beginning in the early ’70s, they created engaging, generally rolllicking songs well-suited for parties and dance floors. Sure, they also wrote some wonderful ballads, but make no mistake–an Elton John concert meant partying to “Crocodile Rock,” “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting” “The Bitch is Back” and other high-energy tunes.
Sir Elton Hercules John (named Reginald Kenneth Dwight at birth) played many of those songs on Wednesday, and it’s clear that over the years, he’s become an even more amazing piano player. But instead of taking the role of party ringleader, he seemed comfortable baring his soul, and letting everyone know what’s really important to him.
Quite simply, John, who formerly enjoyed a party lifestyle with the likes of John Lennon and others, has matured. He has dealt with the challenges of being gay–he married longtime partner David Furnish in 2014, shortly after same-sex marriage became legal in England–and they are raising two children. And as a highly sensitive artist, he has been affected by thr stream of tragedies and global conflicts.
He provided thoughtful introductions to many of his songs at Caesars Palace, and it was stunning to realize how often he has been called upon–and motivated to–write and perform in times requiring international or national healing, including the deaths of Princess Diana and John Lennon, and the 9/11 tragedy.
John conveyed how much we was affected by these incidents. His comments were part of a thread that ran throughout the evening–that it’s vital to share our love and compassion, and understand our interconnectedness.
This is perhaps most vividly illustrated by an excerpt from a song he performed, “Circle of Life,” cowritten with Tim Burton for the movie The Lion King:
It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
In the Circle of Life