Review November 15, 2003, by Virginian-Pilot
If going to a sold out Elton John concert wasnt enough of a trip in the way-back machine, experiencing a rock concert at Norfolk Scope on Friday night (November 14, 2003) certainly was. The music and atmosphere brought back some real memories.
And what more dramatic an entrance for Elton John in an arena than with the lengthy Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding. He did so to a standing ovation.
Clad in a flowing black suit similar to a long-tailed tuxedo and dark sunglasses, Elton kept the retro theme going strong with Bennie and the Jets. Original members Davy Johnstone (guitar) and Nigel Olsson (drums), who still wears headphones and gloves during live performances, were an integral part of Eltons band.
Elton John has an arsenal of hits second only to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and he wasnt stingy with them, as he performed his No. 1 hits Daniel and Someone Saved My Life Tonight.
Clearly there was a legend on stage this night, and everyone realized it as the evening progressed. Song after song, Elton received ovation after ovation.
Elton often has revisited the songwriting formula of his 1970s heyday, and his performance of Ballad of the Boy in the Red Shoes and The Wasteland was a vibrant illustration of his songwriting talent.
But with every contemporary creation Elton came back with more classics, like Philadelphia Freedom and Rocket Man, which was visually enhanced with images of the planet Mars and Elton jamming on the keyboard on a trio of screens elevated high behind his five-piece band.
After receiving high-fives from people in the front row and a bouquet of flowers, Elton moved the timeline of his career up a few years with an up-tempo version of I Guess Thats Why They Call It The Blues, the secondary keyboardist played Stevie Wonders harmonica part electronically.
After Elton John performed I Want Love and This Train Dont Stop There Anymore from his 2001 album Songs From the West Coast, he reignited the crowd with Take Me To The Pilot and Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word perhaps the best-sounding song of the night.
In a most unexpected move, Elton performed Candle In The Wind, a song he vowed never again to perform after the death of Princess Diana. Elton performed a reworded version at her funeral. The piece drew tears and cheers.
For die-hard fans of Elton he performed deep album cuts including Dixie Lily from the album Caribou and Tiny Dancer and Levon from the album Madman Across the Water.
For all of the negative things said in the past about the acoustics of the venue, the good ship Scope was a blast under the command of Captain Fantastic.