Welcome back!!!!! Glad you are alive and well and back in the 22nd Row! We missed you!!!
I’ve been listening to the new CD for a month now and I love it. I think it brings together what Elton and Bernie have been trying to do with their last several releases but I don’t think that they ever really jelled. (But I still think The Captain & The Kid is one of their best albums.) But this new album has the potential to return both artists to the charts and hopefully gather some Grammy notice.
I was lucky enough to be at the show at the Beacon Theater last night. The show was amazing!! We got there a bit late so I missed the first few Leon songs (I’ll catch them on the Fuse broadcast, which I recorded) but we saw his last two songs and then Elton appeared. They did the entire 14-track version of the album, in running order and then Elton did about 10 tracks, including Ballad Of A Well Known Gun. The musicians were incredible and added a nice, different flavor to Elton’s canon of songs. When we called them back for an encore, Elton sheepishly admitted that they had not rehearsed an encore so they performed Hey Ahab again. And after Elton helped Leon get off the stage, he turned around and gave a little bow and mouthed “Thank You” to the audience, obviously very touched by the reception the he and Leon received thru the night.
And what a night it was!! First, it was an amazing venue. Small theater (probably 3,000 seats) great stage lighting, great musicians (including a horn section, 4 gospel background singers, a pedal steel guitar, a mandolin plus an upright bass 2 guitarists and a keyboard!) and the audience was really into the show. Even on the songs from the new album that most of the audience hadn’t heard yet, people were up and dancing on the up-tempo numbers and gave every song a great reception. Our seats were 5 rows from the stage right in front of Elton! Couldn’t have been better. I got some great pictures! The sound mix was great all night although by the end of the show, I think they had turned everything up to 11!! My ears are still ringing! But Elton seemed so pleased to be there with Leon and really appreciated the audience’s reaction to the new material. Every once in a while, Elton would look at Leon with such admiration you could feel it and during Leon’s performance of In The Hands Of Angels (Jim, you were correct in your review: Leon wrote it as a “thank you” to Elton and Johnny Barbis.), Elton sat and listened to Leon intently, mouthing some of the words from time to time but mostly just appreciating the song, the performer and the moment. Very special.
And every once in a while I’d catch Leon looking with appreciation and fondness at the audience and you could see by the expression on his face that he was remembering back to a time when he would play venues this size (and bigger) and get a similar reaction to what he was getting last night but that he hadn’t seen in a while. It truly was a magical night.
After the show, the merchandise booth was doing a brick business, selling t-shirts (yes, I had to buy one) and, thankfully, plenty of copies of the new CD. I hope the Fuse broadcast of the show moves lots of people to go to the store and pick up the album this week. It should rightfully debut in the top 10 but I’d like to see it stay on the charts for a while as I think it’s something that the adult audience will appreciate for many months and has potential to win some Grammies although it will have to wait until next year to be nominated so hopefully it won’t be forgotten by then.
I’m really thankful I was able to see this show at this theater. Besides it being the first show they did together, it was in a small theater and the crowd was really into it. Some of the performances were a little ragged but some of the songs came across better live than on the CD. And thankfully, Elton’s sings was not nearly as “dramatic” as it is on some tracks on the CD. The “drama” in Elton’s voice drives me crazy sometimes and I think it gets in the way of the song.