The Rapidian

Elton John Holds Court at Van Andel

Underwriting support from:

It isn't every Saturday night that you get to see a living legend.

Elton John captivated a sold out show at Van Andel arena Saturday, April 23 with empirical evidence that one man and his piano can mesmerize a crowd. The full house was just taking their seats as John played out the opening notes of "Funeral for a Friend", whipping up the night. He addressed the evening with "Saturday Nights Alright for Fighting", fits pumping to the audience when he'd properly warmed them up for the evening's delight.

He comes from the old school, before any theatrical tricks were employed to make live sound exactly like the canned version on your album. No lip synching or auto tune, kids take note, simply live at its finest. His rich tenor has aged well to a honeyed baritone. Missing was his falsetto of youth, but the soul that drives that voice comes through as if it were 1975. The wild glasses and ostentatious costumes of the decade have been traded for a simpler show clothes, but the heart of his entertainment beats strongly. His piano was hypnotizing.

"Levon" continued the night, bringing the audience into a song that relates a father's love for his child and their sometimes troubled relationship. With Bernie Taupin, his legendary lyricist, they spin a story into a complicated jam. The song writing duo take experiences core to being a person, and making the story accessable to all.

It is the definitive number one hits tour. After "Madman Across the Water" he broke into the opening "Blue jeaned baby, L.A. lady, seemstress for the band..." of "Tiny Dancer". He draws vivid pictures with his voice and the melodic piano accompaniment. His 5 piece band backs him. While competent, they often felt excessive. The star, the piano and the audience were the only critical elements needed to show off his entertainment genius. A simple digital background provided minimal graphics to support the mood.

"Philladelphia Freedom", "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", "Daniel" and "Rocket Man" kept the crowd engaged in sing-along bliss. His emotion never flagged. The mastery the piano was evident. His piano playing wasn't without occasional misses, yet it didn't matter.

John invites you into his young head with "Someone Saved My Life Tonight", an autobiographical hit from dark days before his rise to popularity, when he was thinking of suicide while contemplating marriage to his girlfriend, Linda Woodrow. Friends like "Long" John Baldry convinced him to seek shelter in music.

"Candle in the Wind" featured images lighted up in a pop art style behind the stage of the iconic Marilyn Monroe, known as Norma Jean in John's song. By "Benny and The Jets", the entire place was dancing and reveling in the last songs you know by heart of the evening. He finished energetically with "The Bitch is Back", "I'm Still Standing", and "Crocodile Rock".

After hearing literally everything you think of, there was only room in the encore for the obvious Your Song and Circle of Life.

Elton John is the living king. With a simple piano, he makes everything else inconsequential for a few hours when love of music rules.

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.