Story & Photographs by Diane Fleischman

Making his first visit to Allentown, Sir Elton John performed to a sold out crowd at the PPL Center Tuesday night.  Out on a world tour for his 32nd release, ‘Wonderful Crazy Night’, Allentown is one of nine stops in the United States.  Out of the nine concerts, three were held in Pennsylvania.   

Fans spanning several generations filled the venue full of high electricity in anticipation of a once in a lifetime experience.  With a catalog of music that covers close to 50 years, this performance was jammed packed with his most popular classic hits, and a few from the new release as well. 

The stage was set low, creating a more intimate setting, giving everyone a good view, including those seated behind the stage.    A heavy bell sounded through the stage and the evening begins with “Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”.  The crowd rose, and roared as John took the stage, donned in a dark blue sequenced glitter jacket, with a blue shirt, and matching pants with a glitter stripe going down the sides.  The excitement continued to build as he followed with “The Bitch is Back”, “Bennie and The Jets”, and “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues”. 

As John approaches his 69th birthday, his stamina and energy onstage does not falter.  Behind the piano, his fingers limber, and his voice fluid, as he sang with great diction and sharp punctuation.  On this tour, John consistently plays over two and half hours, performing twenty five songs. 

Joining him onstage, are several musicians that have been with John for over 40 years with two drummers, Ray Cooper, and Nigel Olsson, and Davey Johnstone on guitar. 

From the new release, John performed “Looking Up”, an upbeat snappy tune which immediately got the audience clapping along, and “A Good Heart”, a ballad, as John dedicated, “for all you lovers out there”. 

There was no skimping on the song lengths, some were supersized with added solos and long introductions, such as  “Tiny Dancer” and “Rocket Man”, in which the intro was nearly ten minutes long.  “Levon” highlighted John’s dexterity at its finest, as the piano melody grew faster and faster and shifted over to Johnstone with a meaty guitar solo.  

Fan favorites were “Your Song” and “ Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, as the audience sang along, and a welcomed surprise performance as John broke into “Have Mercy on the Criminal”, from the “Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player” album.   

Rounding out the set were, “Sad Songs”, which added a new funk to the beat.  A beautiful performance of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”, became powerful as the crowd sang along.  The set closed with “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting”, leaving the crowd wanting more.  John returned to the stage alone for the encore of “Candle in the Wind”, with the band joining him on stage half way through the song, and the show ended with “Crocodile Rock” leaving the audience extremely satisfied. 

Sir Elton John took a few moments to thank the crowd for all of their support over the years, and the gratitude felt was mutual.  We hope that John will revisit the Lehigh Valley again as the crowd certainly felt the love from this legendary artist.