Elton John - piano, keyboards, vocals; Davey Johnstone - guitar, keyboards; Guy Babylon - keyboards; Fred Mandel - synths, keyboards, guitar; Jonathon Moffat - drums; Romeo Williams - bass; Natalie Jackson - vocals; Alex Brown - vocals; Marlena Chateau - vocals
This is one of two visits Elton John made to the Chicago area in 1988, and remains one the best tours he ever launched in the US. The choice of material he performed was astonishing, ranging from his earliest songs ("I Need You To Turn To," "Sixty Years On," "Your Song"); to his classic '71-'76 hits period ("Burn Down The Mission," "Tiny Dancer," "Philadelphia Freedom," "The Bitch Is Back," "Daniel," "Candle In The Wind"); to a splattering of cool album cuts ("The King Must Die," "Have Mercy On The Criminal"); to a healthy slice of what were his newer hits at the time ("Nikita," "I Don't Wanna Go On With You Like That," "Goodbye Marlon Brando"). Always the consummate performer, he closes with "Your Song" sandwiched between the righteous rockers "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" and "I'm Still Standing." While Top 10 radio hits became few and far between for John after the mid-'80s, he has remained a hit-maker in contemporary music for nearly four decades.
Overall, this lengthy set makes for an incredible evening of music. Chicago was always a strong market for Elton John, going back to his earliest US shows. He emerged in 1970 from the UK as a critic's darling and the British equivalent of Randy Newman, with lyricist/partner Bernie Taupin. His own shows and flamboyant persona soon became the rage in his native England, and then to an even larger degree in the US. By the mid-1970s, Elton John was arguably the biggest act in music.
It all came crashing down with a collision between his sexual confusion and his blatantly self-destructive personality, which culminated in drug and alcohol abuse and a complete restructuring of his excessive stage theatrics, for which he auctioned off nearly $20 million in memorabilia and costumes. Few artists can mesmerize an audience with a two hour-plus show of incredible Top 10 hits and compelling album tracks. This recording proves why Elton John is one of the most enduring performers in all of rock 'n' roll.