Eagle Vision’s dominance of the DVD market with high quality concerts/documentaries of major artists continues with this dazzling event from Elton John’s residency at the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas. A song that is a true period piece, “Philadelphia Freedom,” was great for the 70s but feels kind of dusty in the new millennium. On this DVD it takes on new life with the splashy, classy use of quick cuts, aerial shots, exquisite musicianship, all captured and reinvented for this brilliant time capsule. USA Today had a February 13, 2014 article which noted that the film would “go to nearly 700 theaters across the country for a premiere at 7 p.m. local time on March 18 and an encore screening on March 26. (2014)” so the concert translated to theaters before hitting YouTube and the Blu ray /DVD market. As the work is amazing on the small screen, it must have been magnificent at a theater showing. Check out “Circle of Life” to see how Elton keeps reinventing his well-known material making it contemporary and compelling and worth watching repeatedly
The lighting and the dreamscapes behind the band create an amazing, mood-altering experience with the audio and the visuals. During these times of the YouTube jungle and media overload, where a terrific Aerosmith concert (July 16, 2014, Boston/Mansfield) has multiple screens making the rock stars larger than life, with our musical veterans – from Elton John to Aerosmith – delivering some of the finest concerts of their careers (I’ve been following both since the early 70s, and have seen Elton and Aerosmith perhaps more than any other two major artists save Lou Reed) it creates the dilemma for the director of how to make a disc so vital that you need to add it to your collection. The entire July Aerosmith show referenced above was available on YouTube the next day, including the guest appearances by Johnny Depp (“Train Kept A Rollin’) and Slash on “Mama Kin.” The cellphones are sophisticated enough to pick up the live camerawork – sometimes with a focus on the screens rather than the actual performance – how’s that for double exposure – which begs the question, what’s the point in having an expensive director when the technology is such and the data stream so immediate that sitting down with a DVD might be a foreign experience for the younger generation?
But in the appreciation of art having a high end capture of the monologue – from Elton on the creation of “Your Song” and the beautifully filmed “piano man” rendition of it – is something to behold, something more than just good for the collectors. Additional thoughts regarding my philosophical take on capturing the magic of concerts in my review of that Aerosmith concert.
With Elton we are talking about one of the most consistent rock artists still on the scene continuing to deliver, and this package becomes an instant keeper for those of us who enjoy a home library more than being dependent on YouTube. Look at an older video of “Are You Ready For Love” from the exquisite Thom Bell Sessions for comparison Elton is as enthusiastic and energized on this German TV moment with sweeping cameras and a tight backing unit.
It’s the solid direction on Million Dollar Piano, and the lovely extras, which give this a thumbs up and a high rating on my August 2014 JoeVigTop40.blogspot.com
Elton John’s own website has background info on the Vegas show worth checking out
The Official Press Release
Elton John’s “The Million Dollar Piano” is a residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. DVD:http://smarturl.it/EltonJohn1MPianoDVD Blu-Ray:http://smarturl.it/EltonJohn1MPianoBlu Itunes: Coming Soon. The show has been running since September 2011 with the most recent leg being 16 shows between March 29 and April 26 2014. The concerts are the culmination of Elton John’s decades long partnership with Yamaha pianos. This film features classic Elton John tracks from across his extraordinary career performed either with his band, with percussionist Ray Cooper or solo. The multimedia staging is extraordinary with vast screens behind the stage illustrating the songs and the piano itself acting as a screen for graphics and animations. Elton John is the ultimate live showman and this is the definitive Elton John concert experience.
1) The Bitch Is Back 2) Bennie And The Jets 3) Rocket Man 4) Levon 5) Tiny Dancer 6) Your Song 7) Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters 8) Better Off Dead 9) Indian Sunset 10) Blue Eyes 11) Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 12) I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues 13) Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me 14) Philadelphia Freedom 15) I’m Still Standing 16) Crocodile Rock 17) Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting 18) Circle Of Life 19) Song For Guy (credits)
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.