Review: Elton John rocks Civic Center

CHIP ELLIS | Gazette Elton John rips through a version of “Bennie and the Jets” at the Charleston Civic Center Wednesday evening.

It seemed an unlikely thing when Elton John was booked to play the Charleston Civic Center. The Civic Center doesn’t get much rock ‘n’ roll traffic and the kind Charleston gets tends to lean toward sour hard rockers or graying hair metal.

Neither description fits Sir Elton’s style.

But surprise, surprise, Elton John’s show seemed to have gone smashingly. He got a near sell-out crowd. At the very least, a big room full of people who spent a lot of time on their feet and even ventured to dance every now and again.

The 67-year-old pop music icon rewarded the turnout with a fantastic show that should have completely satisfied the average fan and done a pretty good job of doing the same for the people who know him a little ways past his biggest hits.

He did play a lot of hits, but he didn’t play all of them. That, frankly, might have taken until daybreak to get to them all, but he did play most of the ones everybody came to hear: “Bennie and the Jets,” “Rocket Man,” “Tiny Dancer” and “Candle in the Wind.”

He did a few things from the 1980s and 1990s like “Little Jeanie” and “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues” and “Believe” while also mixing in a few new songs taken from his latest record, “The Diving Board.” He even did one or two deep cuts from “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” (including a personal favorite of mine “All the Girls love Alice”). That record, considered one of his best, celebrated 40 years since its release last year.

He’s still celebrating it.

The only song he (probably) didn’t play was “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” but only because he forgot to pack Kiki Dee for this tour — and I’m not sure if he ever did anything from “The Lion King.”

He kept up a brisk pace, glided from song to song without a lot of anything else in between, while still managing to come off as wildly affable and absolutely delighted to be there.

That was maybe one of the more remarkable things of the night. John seemed genuinely glad to be there. The playing seemed like play and not like work. The impish smile scarcely left his face and he acted like he could hardly contain himself through most of the night.

He kept his energy up and encouraged the crowd to do the same.

It was a spectacular show.

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