Elton John

Live Shots

Elton John and Davey Johnstone (l)
Elton John and Davey Johnstone (l)

Elton John

Frank Erwin Center, April 10

If Elton John toddled onstage at Frank Erwin Center Saturday night looking a little like a five-foot Muppet, it was no joke. Impeccably dressed in a satin blue chemise and black tailcoat – with a sequined crocodile snapping down on the Sir Elton of his ubiquitous Greatest Hits on the back – the cuddly, 63-year-old pianist had just allowed a 16,000-strong sold-out arena its final breath for at least an hour. Augmented by bass, keyboards, and percussion, the quartet that cut John's 1973 masterpiece Goodbye Yellow Brick Road arrived in Austin intact, save for late bass player Dee Murray, after what the band's namesake later estimated was a 10-year local hiatus in a nearly continuous U.S. tour marking its 40th anniversary. In fact, the sonic fog of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road opener "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" was already rising as John took his seat along with drummer Nigel Olsson, who was finally out of his trademark jumpsuit, his perennially long hair grown white, and grinning madly at the bandleader while Edinburgh axe Davey Johnstone stood left of the bandleader's Yamaha grand, wielding a Les Paul stenciled with Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. John, Olsson, and Johnstone howled, with the segue into "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" becoming the first gut-punch in a relentless barrage that never waned over two and a half hours. The headliner sang his co-writer Bernie Taupin's lyrics like a playwright refining dialogue. Announcing a triptych from 1971's Madman Across the Water next, John again signaled the night's intentions: take no prisoners. "Daniel" giving way to an extended, out-of-this-world "Rocket Man," John's instrumental intro to "Take Me to the Pilot" running the gamut from Tchaikovsky to Fats Domino, and "Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word" all welcomed a worthy newcomer, "You're Never Too Old to Love Somebody," from an upcoming collaboration between John and his early "idol" Leon Russell. "The Bitch Is Back"? She never left.

Set List

“Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”

“Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”


“Madman Across the Water”

“Tiny Dancer”

“Philadelphia Freedom”

“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”


“Rocket Man”

“I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”

“Sad Songs (Say So Much)”

“Take Me to the Pilot”

“Something About the Way You Look Tonight”

“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”

“Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word”

“Candle in the Wind”

“You’re Never Too Old to Love Somebody”

“Honky Cat”

“Burn Down the Mission”

“Bennie and the Jets”

“The Bitch Is Back”

“I’m Still Standing”

“Crocodile Rock”


“Your Song”

“Circle of Life”

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Elton John
Phases and Stages
Elton John, and Paul McCartney
The Diving Board, New (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Nov. 22, 2013

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Raoul Hernandez
Checking In: Welcome to <i>The Kat Edmonson Show</i>
Welcome to The Kat Edmonson Show
“Writing and shooting a show every week is quite demanding”

Aug. 7, 2020

New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
Ben Kweller hits the Continental Club stage, Threadgill's auctions some history, and more

Aug. 7, 2020


Elton John

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle