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Elton John World News: Elton's Latest Gig

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Thursday 21 September 2006 @ 16:41 - GMT

Deftly attacking the keys of a grand piano that hed just defiled by standing on it, Elton John grinned and cheerled more than 12,300 screaming fans: Bitch! Bitch! The bitch is back!

They werent talking about the dog outfitted in Boise State colors that he paraded on stage later, either.

Seven years after the pop legend made his Boise debut with a solo-piano concert, Sir Elton was back, all right with a fleet-fingered vengeance. John uncorked warp-speed honky-tonk runs. He gaped at his own prowess. He popped to his feet and capped songs by lifting and slamming his piano lid.

Pow!

It was like a firecracker fuse burning for 2 hours, 45 minutes. Backed by a seasoned quintet that included longtimers Davey Johnstone (guitar) and Nigel Olsonn (drums), John blasted off at Taco Bell Arena. After opening colossally with the prog-tinged Funeral for a Friend (Loves Lies Bleeding), he quickly dashed out favorites including Bennie and the Jets, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Tiny Dancer and Someone Saved My Life Tonight.

Fans ran the gamut from children to senior citizens. They danced like maniacs, be it the front-row schoolboys wearing Elton John glam glasses or the middle-aged woman with the boa and pom-pom.

John just released a new CD, The Captain and The Kid, a solid sequel to 1975s autobiographical Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. So, mid-show, he played six back-to-back newbies mostly slow or medium-paced tunes -- and attempted to explain their inspirations. Interrupters kept squawking, We love you Elton!

Before audience interest waned, John injected the oldies caffeine again. Rocket Man got a jam-band treatment. Daniel, perhaps the ultimate example of AM radio perfection, was nearly perfect.

The concert wasnt without technical flaws. Johns robust voice sometimes had a little extra grit that wasnt just 59 years of living; it was the sound mix during louder songs, which, fortunately, didnt affect ballads like the moving encore tune Your Song. And the gigantic projection screen behind the band had been lopped to allow a line of sight for seats behind the stage, rendering much of the video useless. Not that it mattered much.

The concert hit overdrive at the two-hour point. When fans were allowed to approach the stage during Levon, they clambered over seats like pups being let out of the garage. Johns upbeat hits got progressively more aggressive more rock -- stoked by electric guitar, snapping snare drum and his always-blazing piano.

John briefly killed instrumentation during Crocodile Rock as the audience gleefully boomed, Dooo! Do-do-do-do-dooo! During Saturday Night's Alright, the whole house boogied and shrieked the outro chant: Saturday! Saturday! Saturday!"

Nope! Wednesday! Fans found that out the hard way at work the next morning.