LINCOLN — Nobody pulls off a sequin-encrusted red tuxedo and sunglasses quite like Elton John.
More than 14,000 fans greeted John — in all his glittering glory — and his extensive catalog of pop classics when he took the stage at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday night.
Sir Elton performed for more than two and a half hours in only the way he could: pounding the keys and belting out a bevy of familiar songs such as “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” among a dozen others.
It was another classic performance from a classic performer.
John has an amazing list of songs that are so ingrained in the public consciousness that even a brainless man would have a hard time forgetting some of the tunes. When he played hits such as “Levon,” “The Bitch is Back” and “I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues,” it sounded as if every person in the arena, which was full to the last row, knew the words and belted them out with John and his band.
Over the years, John's voice has gotten a bit deeper and lost some of its range, and he sings with a little more soul to make up for it. That said, he put his Yamaha grand piano through its steps Saturday with runs up and down the ivories better than he ever has before. Some of his classic songs are even updated with a slightly new feel.
“Rocket Man” is probably the best example of his new style. He began the song with a thoughtful intro before diving headfirst into a rocking version of the song. He skipped some of the tune's Everest-high notes, but he nailed the melodies on his grand piano, which filled nearly half the stage.
Most of the night's ballads came early, which let John change the feel of the show from swanky cabaret to nightclub near the end of the set when he played “I'm Still Standing,” “The Bitch is Back” and “Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)” as a group.
The best moments involved the best-known songs. “Tiny Dancer” felt like a shared moment for everyone in the audience, “Your Song” felt like the moment everyone was waiting for and “Crocodile Rock” was a perfect, dance-filled way to end the show.
He also reached a little deeper in the catalog for songs such as “Holiday Inn,” “Believe,” “Hey Ahab” and “Sad Songs (Say So Much),” all of which were memorable.
Only a couple of songs — “Ocean's Away” and “Home Again” — came from John's new album, “The Diving Board,” and I was glad for that. It's a fine record, but those tunes took a little away from the fun of singing along to “Yellow Brick Road” and dancing to “Crocodile Rock.”
Sir Elton was up for the constant adoration dumped on him by all the fans. He stood up after almost every song to wave, point out fans and blow kisses. He was also kind enough to sign autographs and sometimes mugged for people's cellphone cameras in the middle of piano solos.
“I am so lucky to be doing this,” he said near the end of the show. “I go all over the world to places that I never heard of. I come to places I do know like Lincoln, Neb.
“The older I get, the more I love doing this. And you guys are just amazing.”