Elton had promised surprises for his 60th MSG performance, and he certainly delivered.
It began with Bill Clinton, who came on to compliment the star for helping to combat AIDS. Then the former president introduced Elton, who was decked out in a long black overcoat, the back bearing the number ''60'' in gold.
Appropriately enough, Elton opened with Sixty Years On, and at first, it appeared that the set would be the same as his two previous New England gigs.
However, after Madman Across The Water, Where to Now St. Peter? and Hercules, Elton changed course with Ballad of a Well Known Gun.
Musical highlights included High Flying Bird (although the electronic display above the stage of a sweeping keyboard was illogical), rockers like Better Off Dead, I'm Still Standing, All The Girls Love Alice, The Bitch is Back, Bennie And The Jets, Saturday Night's (Alright For Fighting) and Philadelphia Freedom.
Other top selections were the heartfelt Empty Garden (reminding the headliner of both sad and happy events: 9/11 and appearing at MSG in '74 with John Lennon and noting the strongest reception he's ever heard for an artist), Something About The Way You Look Tonight and The Bridge. Ditto for the first encore, Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding: the suspense of when Elton will reappear on the darkened stage never ceases.
All of the songs were met with shrieks of approval and applause, as were the unexpected arrivals of Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Willliams
and Bernie Taupin
, who led the audience in a ''Happy Birthday'' singalong. That was followed by lots of confetti, which threatened to swallow up both Elton's piano and the stage.
Although a reviewer of a recent concert found Elton's voice to be muddy, this writer noticed nothing of the sort. In fact, the entertainer's vocals never wavered, even though the evening lasted well over three hours.
Below is the set list:
1) Sixty Years On
2) Madman Across the Water (with rushing waves of water on the screen)
3) Where to Now St. Peter?
4) Hercules (with plenty of muscle-flexing video)
5) Ballad of a Well-Known Gun
6) Take Me to the Pilot
7) High Flying Bird
8) Holiday Inn
9) Burn Down The Mission
10) Better Off Dead
12) Empty Garden
14) Honky Cat
15) Rocket Man (background video had Elton's visage on a shuttle--and with these and other images incorporating the musician, the crowd's reaction was the most vocal)
16) I Guess That's Why They Call it The Blues
17) The Bridge
18) Roy Rogers (another of Elton's surprises)
19) Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
20) Sorry Seems to be The Hardest Word
21) Bennie and The Jets
22) All The Girls Love Alice
23) Tiny Dancer
24) Something About The Way You Look Tonight
25) Philadelphia Freedom
26) Sad Songs (Say So Much)
27) Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
28) I'm Still Standing
29) The Bitch is Back
30) Crocodile Rock
31) Saturday Night's (Alright For Fighting)
32) Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
33) Your Song (after thanking the attendees for helping him have a good birthday)