It wasn’t entirely clear exactly how Elton John and Taron Egerton would figure into the “Rocketman Live in Concert” show at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on Thursday night. Fans knew that the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra would be accompanying a screening of the biopic live but the rock star and the film’s star were billed as on board for a “special performance” — and on that score it delivered.
In fact, it delivered on the entire score, the film score that is, with the orchestra impeccably playing live-to-sync versions of the film’s musical moments from the opening overture to the full-blown musical numbers like “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” and “Rocket Man” as well as interstitial snippets with live strings, percussion, and more adding both instrumental and emotional heft to the film. “Pinball Wizard” in particular benefitted from the brawn provided by the symphony. The live energy contributed even more to the film’s fantastical jukebox musical sensibility. The crowd sang along in some places and hooted and hollered in others, with particularly loud cheers of encouragement coming during the scene where John is attempting to write his first song as he is finishing up rehab.
Following the triumphant film-closing bounce through “I’m Still Standing,” John and Egerton emerged hand in hand to perform “(I’m Gonna Love) Me Again,” the uptempo closing credits number from Rocketman, which they sang with gusto sitting side by side on stools. Director Dexter Fletcher, who had welcomed the crowd at the start of the night, returned to the stage to introduce John’s longtime songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, who in turn welcomed his big screen doppelgänger, Jamie Bell, who offered a deep “I’m not worthy” bow to Taupin. Bryce Dallas Howard, who played John’s mother in the film, also joined the party and all the actors waxed rhapsodic about being part of the film and thanked the audience for coming.
Egerton then noted that although he and John had previously performed together, there was one song they had not done yet. With that, John took a seat at a grand piano and began playing the opening notes of his epic ballad “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me,” much to the crowd’s delight. Following a lively rendition the pair took their bow.
It’s been a busy few days in Los Angeles for the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer leading up to the show as he leaned into promotion of his dynamite new memoir Me. He started the week off by taking in Brandi Carlile’s phenomenal front-to-back performance of Joni Mitchell’s classic Blue album at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Monday– Carlile shouted him out from the stage — and spent time chatting with Carlile for a radio special that aired Tuesday and signed a slew of books at Book Soup on the Sunset Strip. Wednesday night he appeared at the iHeart Theatre for an intimate interview with DJ Jim Kerr as part of the iHeart ICONS series, where he performed snippets of songs like “Bennie and the Jets,” “Border Song,” and “Take Me To the Pilot” as he talked about their origins. He also discussed Me, noting that he had, over several years, recorded 65 hours of interview tape from which he constructed the memoir. As for the calling it a day on his globe trekking ways at the end of his current Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour he said “For the last bit of my life, I want something different, ya know? I’ve played so many shows. I’ve loved it. I’ve had enough applause. I’ve been so successful. What more can I do? Music will always be part of my life. I will always be creative, but I owe my children and my husband the support of being there for them, and that’s what I want to do.”
—Additional reporting by Maureen Lee Lenker
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Elton John biopic ‘Rocketman’ stars Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, and Bryce Dallas Howard.