Back when Elton John (“Brighter Than the Lights”) was a rookie resident Las Vegas headliner—when his Red Piano show ruled the roost at Caesars Palace for five years during Queen Celine’s first term at The Colosseum—the message sent by the David LaChapelle-designed show was thus: bigger is better, and ostentatiousness is the name of the game. So while John presented his biggest hits onstage, instead of a light show or vintage photos from his heyday behind him, you’d get a video of Pamela Anderson in some barely there outfit, or a giant, inflatable phallic symbol that threatened to steal the show from what many people came to see: the man himself.
So, in The Million Dollar Piano, John’s Red Piano redux, we get just what the doctor ordered: the man himself. He’s still glittery, as is the namesake piano, and he’s still campy—witness the umpteen times he mugs for the crowd following a procession of hits—but it never overshadows the powerfully rendered hits of his classic era.
It’s been well documented that John has lost some of that upper range that made yelping hits out of “Bennie and the Jets” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (his buddy Billy Joel has had to drop the keys of most of his biggest hits by a whole step to accommodate this phenomenon), but the good news is that John’s voice is still powerful and affecting, ready to render everything from “Levon” to “I’m Still Standing” with the force of a freight train. Although the “Circle of Life” encore may tend toward anticlimax territory for those who lost touch with John during his Lion King-Aida-Billy Elliott years, there’s no denying the fire is very much still burning inside the 65-year-old superstar.
Like the Rod Stewarts, Chers, Leonard Cohens and Bette Midlers who have passed through The Colosseum’s doors before him, John is making the most of what should be his twilight years. The time is right to punch your ticket—or get it scanned, in the less romantic sense—for a true rock legend, one Las Vegas is happy to call its own.