Elton John - lead vocals, piano, keyboards; Davey Johnstone - guitars; Dave Payton - bass; Charlie Morgan - drums; Fred Mandel - keyboards; Alan Carvel - backing vocals; Gordon Neville - backing vocals; Shirley Lewis - backing vocals; Raoul Dolavita - trumpet; Paul Spong - trumpet; Dave Vitelli - sax; Rick Taylor - trombone; Jody Linscott - percussion
This late show from Elton John's 1986 two-performance stand Los Angeles' Universal Amphitheatre doesn't vary too much from the early show, also available at Wolfgang's Vault, but there seems to be a little more energy during this set. Elton forsakes some of the tender love ballads to focus more on the rockers, and rockers, there are plenty. He also offers a healthy dose of good ole' pop hits, especially in his renditions of "Philadelphia Freedom" and "I'm Still Standing." The best tracks are still the timeless hits: "Rocket Man," "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting," "Your Song," "Candle In The Wind," "Burn Down The Mission," "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," Bitch Is Back," "Bennie & The Jets," and many, many more.
This is a special performance because Elton John plays guitar on one song — a cover of Leslie Duncan's "Love Song"—telling the crowd, "You don't often see me playing guitar… because I can't." He closes with a quadruple whammy: "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting," "Candle In The Wind," "Daniel," and of course, "Your Song."
While Top 10 radio hits became few and far between shortly after this show was recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour, Elton John has remained the longest running hit maker in contemporary music for well over four decades. He emerged in 1970 from the U.K., 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 both in his native England, and then to a much larger degree in the U.S. By the mid-1970s, Elton John was arguably the biggest act in music. It all came crashing down with a head-on collision between his sexual confusion and his blatantly self-destructive personality. He re-grouped in the 1980s, cleaned himself up, and returned stronger than ever around the time of this recording.
The number of artists that can mesmerize an audience with a two-hour plus show of incredible Top 10 hits and compelling album tracks can be counted on one hand for most people. This recording proves why Elton John is one of those artists.