4 June 2017
What a Wonderful Crazy Night! 14,000 fans enjoyed a fantastic evening as Sir Elton John performed many of the musical highlights from his extensive catalogue of hits at the 3aaa County Ground in Derby. Sir Elton’s music has formed the soundtrack to many people’s lives and this rare performance in Derby had been eagerly anticipated.
With Sir Elton wearing a long blue frock-coat emblazoned with a Rocket Man motif, guitarist Davey Johnstone launched into the distinctive opening chords of The Bitch Is Back which was immediately followed by Bennie And The Jets.
“Good evening Derby!” said Sir Elton. “I don’t think I have played Derby since the 1960s at Clouds. It’s great to be here, I’m grateful to be alive!” making reference to the viral illness he contracted whilst on tour in South America. It is, in fact, 38 years since his last appearance in the city, at the then-recently opened Assembly Rooms in 1979. Much has changed since then…
“We live in strange times,” he said, making reference to the charity concert at Manchester Arena for victims of the recent atrocity there. “It would be remiss of me not to mention it, the tragic and awful things that have happened, and last night in London where people lost their lives having a good time. I want to say Manchester was an awful thing to go through, as a performer, for Ariana Grande, and congratulations to her for organising it.”
Sir Elton dedicated his song I Want Love to the victims of the attrocities and their families, “It is about being remembered forever, those who will never replace a loved one, there and in London.” The bright animated backdrop to the stage was then replaced with a simple, heartfelt message, “We Love MCR LDN.”
The hits flowed, Daniel, Rocket Man and two tracks from his most recent Wonderful Crazy Night album: Looking Up and A Good Heart.
Sir Elton also took time to mention a significant personal anniversary. “It is the 50th anniversary of my writing partnership with Bernie (Taupin). In the early 70s, while living at my parents apartment in North London, Bernie sent me some lyrics. I sat down at my piano and wrote this song so quickly. I called Bernie in, because we were never in the same room when we wrote a song, and we realised we had taken a huge leap forward in our song writing.” Sir Elton dedicated his performance of Your Song to Margaret, wife of Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough, who was celebrating her 50th birthday.
He also thanked his loyal fans for their support through the years. “One constant is you guys (the audience) who have been there throughout. I have to say I’m so appreciative of all the love you have flung my way, it means so much.”
Ahead of a moving performance of Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, there was also a poignant reflection on the sad loss of one of Sir Elton’s dear friends, George Michael. “The next song is bittersweet,” he said. “It was the saddest Christmas when I heard that George had passed away. This song will always be etched in my heart as his song.”
Sir Elton and his band, which still features long-time guitarist Davey Johnstone and drummer Nigel Olsson, then raised the tempo again. Crocodile Rock had everyone on their feet, even the catering staff were out dancing on the balconies! Your Sister Can’t Twist and Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting brought the main set to a close before Sir Elton returned for one final number, the classic Candle In The Wind. Wonderful. Crazy. Great to have an artist of this calibre back in the city.
1 The Bitch Is Back
2 Bennie and the Jets
3 I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
4 Take Me To The Pilot
6 Looking Up
7 A Good Heart
8 Philadelphia Freedom
9 I Want Love
10 Tiny Dancer
12 Rocket Man
13 Have Mercy on the Criminal
14 Your Song
15 Burn Down the Mission
16 Sad Songs (Say So Much)
17 Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
18 I’m Still Standing
19 Crocodile Rock
20 Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n Roll)
21 Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting
Candle in the Wind