The Pilgrimage Part Deux – Episode V

Tampa, Florida – Friday, September 14, 2012

(Heavy sigh)

I’ve promised my husband that this will be my last Elton John concert for a while. I guess 5 in 6 months is pretty outrageous (she says with a smug and satisfied grin on her face).

Be that as it may, I had the thrill of seeing Sir Elton in concert – again – this year. This leg of the pilgrimage took us to Tampa, Florida, where he headlined the grand re-opening of the USF Sun Dome arena.

You came to town in headlines…

This time I was accompanied by my sister, Lisa and my brother, Mark. And, if I got the count correct, that makes 7 EJ concerts for Lisa and 2 for Mark.


We had pretty good seats for the concert – 12th row, left of center, direct line of sight to EJ (except for the lady 2 rows in front of us who kept holding up a poster). I certainly would like to figure out how other Rocket Club members get 5th row seats.  I’ve never been so lucky. But I digress.

The 2Cellos opened up for Elton again…and were as impressive as ever.  WOW.

And then Sir Elton entered stage left, “looking like a well-fed Wizard of Oz in a green sparkly jacket, flashing a gap-toothed grin, pointing to the sold-out crowd of 9,951 and pounding into Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” [Sean Daly, Tampa Bay Times]

Although the concert was a bit shorter than his 3 previous South Florida visits, it was still very high energy (dare I say electric music, solid walls of sound)?  Of course, much of what he played was from the “jukebox,” but he did throw in a few “gorgeous rarities” for us Eltonites. Love, love, love Mona Lisas and Holiday Inn. And I even enjoyed Nikita (not one of my favorite songs, to be honest), but live and performed solo, it was amazing. Missed Take Me to the Pilot and Burn Down the Mission, though. But then, he’d have to play all night and then some to cover everything I’d like to hear.

Elton played and sang his heart out (as he always does), letting the band take a break from time to time during the two and a half hour set.

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (I so wish iPhones took better concert pics)

Other observations from Tampa:

  • I did miss seeing Bob Birch playing behind Elton, but Matt Bissonnette didn’t miss a beat and looked like he’d always been part of The Band.
  • I hope the 2Cellos keep touring with Elton.  They really add depth to the arrangements and harken back to the original recordings of many of his earlier tunes.
  • Elton signs autographs between the main set and the encore.  I guess I take it for granted because I’ve seen him do this for a while now, but several people asked me about this, seeming very surprised. I find it very gracious of him – and he seems very patient with the fans.  (Alas, when I had my front row seats all those many years ago, he didn’t do anything like this. But he did smile at me).
  • Even though I’ve seen him 5 times this year, it most certainly didn’t dampen my excitement nor my enjoyment.  Now I just hope he tours for The Diving Board, which comes out in February.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

The set list:

  • Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting
  • Bennie and the Jets
  • Grey Seal
  • Levon
  • Tiny Dancer
  • Holiday Inn
  • Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
  • Philadelphia Freedom
  • Candle in the Wind
  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  • Rocket Man
  • Hey Ahab
  • I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues
  • Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
  • Honky Cat
  • Sad Songs
  • Daniel
  • Nikita
  • Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word
  • Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
  • I’m Still Standing
  • Bitch is Back
  • Crocodile Rock
  • Your Song (Encore)

BTW, I asked my sister and brother to guest blog about the concert, so you’re not just hearing how amazing and PHE.NOM.EN.AL. it was from me.  Stay tuned.