A few miles south, on stage at the Broadmoor World Arena, he was a glam deity. But most of the time, all you can do is bang on the invisible ivories, like the night’s ASL translators during so many of Elton’s forte solos. Though an Elton John tour needs no reason, he does have new songs, which he shuffled in throughout the hits. They, like him, were living up their sunset years. But it was nothing that the subsequent transition into “Rocket Man” couldn’t blast away. When we see an artist live, we want the frozen-in-amber image from decades prior stuck in our minds to come to life as we remember it. For example, clad in ruby dress shoes and a cutaway suit coat emblazoned with red rhinestones in the shape of a rose, Elton John would have been an odd sight in downtown Colorado Springs. As in all other cases, context should matter. Some artists go to great lengths to make that so. On Thursday, he mostly kept to his bench, standing from his inky Yamaha between numbers to join his five-piece band in cheering on the capacity crowd at the ~8,000-person arena. Bob Dylan, for example, has not held up well in the latter stages of his so-called Never Ending Tour, no matter what his fanatic following might tell you. While John’s shows were never overly aerobic, he did used to do a decent share of romping around the stage between songs back in the day. Accordingly, John made good with hits like “Your Song” and “Crocodile Rock” for each of his modern digressions. Clad in a vintage tour jacket, a man ten rows behind John air-piano’d the jabbing interludes of “Bennie and the Jets.” A few rows behind him, two women spent much of the show trying to get John’s attention, waving maniacally when they weren’t hand-dancing through their favorite songs, like a massive late-set rendition of “Levon.”
As it turns out, aside from “Tiny Dancer,” it’s not easy to cut a rug to Elton John’s jaunty pop ballads. The songs are great for tapping out rhythms on your steering wheel during road trips, and falsetto-ing along to as you see out last call. Yes, even in 2017, a mere nine days away from his 70th birthday. But that didn’t stop scores of largely retirement-age fans from giving John a standing ovation between nearly every song. “I’ve been touring since 1969 as Elton John, and there’s been one constant thing since then, and that’s you guys out there,” he said after tearing through “Burn Down the Mission.” “When we go home, we’ll be talking about you. You give us adrenaline.”
The crowd roared back. (Tina Hagerling, The Know)
So often, we demand that our pop music legends remain timeless. These songs, John understands, are why he was where he was, in the enviable position of still selling out arenas nearly 50 years into his career. If its adrenaline was what has kept him such fine form, on Thursday, it flowed both ways. But performers (and performances) crack and crumble with age. Later in the evening, he even trotted out a rare rendition of “Have Mercy on the Criminal,” which put his somewhat diminished vocal range to a test, which after all these years, he passed with flair. Elton John performing at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs on March 16th, 2017. Here, the crowd was less smitten, sitting out numbers like “A Good Heart.” John called it his favorite off his latest (and 32nd) album, “Wonderful Crazy Night,” which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the record: The cheesy track threatened to cast a wet velvet blanket over the night.