The concert begins in the light of a sunny afternoon, proceeds through twilight and dusk, and ends after dark with the lights of the stadium and the stage grown vivid. Purely as a visual gimmick, the lighting changes are very effective. The crowd is young, ranging from teen-agers to young parents carrying their small children. Everyone, right down to the grinning bobbies, is clearly an Elton John admirer. The crowd applauds the opening notes of familiar numbers, sways to the music with arms raised in the air, and claps along cheerfully whenever urged by Mr. John. At one point, for no special reason, a young woman sitting on somebody’s shoulders suddenly decides to go topless. The cheers and whistles are characteristically good-natured.
The star remains true to well-established form, albeit considerably restrained. Wearing black tie and a patchwork of black-and-white tails, with a diamond in one ear and a straw boater rakishly angled on his head, he sits at a white Steinway grand piano and plunges through his repertory with little or no small talk. He begins with ”Hercules” and advances through such favorites as ”Rocket Man,” ”Daniel” ”Benny and the Jets” and his ode to Marilyn Monroe, ”Like a Candle in the Wind.” His audience hums along, sings along and even occasionally dances along. Elton John leans into the microphone hovering over his keyboard, sometimes threatening to swallow it. He periodically jumps off his piano stool (at one point, he flings it into the wings). He sits on the piano keys to make a musical statement. He crawls under the piano, reaches up and begins thumping away from the floor. He gives his fans a show and leaves them delightedly shouting for more.
The television recording has been supplemented with some imaginative computer graphics credited to Cal Video. Combinations of multiple panels and screen ”wipes” are used to create segments that take on the slickness of music videos. On the whole, the devices work well in creating a suitable setting for the main event: Elton John and his music. His group consists of Davey Johnstone on guitar, Nigel Olsson on drums, Dee Murray on bass, and Fred Mandel on keyboards and synthesizers. They provide the essential support as Elton John keeps the crowd bouncing with everything from snatches of the old Glenn Miller arrangement of ”In the Mood” to a rock medley including tributes to Chubby Checker, the Beatles and, certainly a personal influence, Jerry Lee Lewis. Good times are here again, at least for two hours.