It was a misty, chilly November night in Tulsa. The kind of night you want to curl up on the couch with some hot cocoa and snuggle up with the one you love. But instead, thousands of people made their way down to the BOK Center for a night of entertainment with two legends in their own time; Elton John and Tulsa’s own, Leon Russell.
Elton John and Leon Russell released “The Union” on October 19th, 2010. This tour features hit songs from both solo careers and the collaboration they made together on this album. As we all settled in and the room filled with fans, Elton John came walking out on the stage just a bit past 8:00pm. Elton greeted the fans and told us all this was going to be an exciting show with it being held in Leon’s hometown. For those that thought this album was the first for these two to work together; Elton informed us that he had performed with Leon in Tulsa in 1971. With that, Elton gave a warm welcome to Leon Russell as he took the stage for his solo set.
Leon Russell came out with his flowing white hair and beard, wearing a cowboy hat and Hawaiian-style shirt. As he seated himself at the piano, he started off the night with his hit song “Tight Rope”. The people were already on their feet from welcoming and honoring Leon as he came out; as soon as the song started, the dancing and singing along began.
Leon gave a beautiful performance of his songs. The vibe of the entire night felt more like being with family and at times even at church with the gospel-country sound of many of the songs. Leon went on to play more favorites, “A Song For You” and “Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms”; which ended with a lengthy gospel sounding jam session with “Stranger In a Strange Land.”
Leon Russell Photo Gallery
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
Elton John came out dressed in black with his infamous glimmering jacket style. He wasted no time tearing it up with “Saturday Night’s Alright (for fighting).” There was no way to sit during this song; everyone was on their feet and dancing. Looking around the arena, numerous fans sporting Elton John style glasses, there was a family in front of me that had some that lit up and were flashing. Elton was electric for the whole evening. After almost every song, he would get up and bow and thank his fans. He was incredibly gracious and thankful to everyone. Elton was also very playful on stage. He kept making silly faces and saying comments to people on the front row; even hopped up on the piano and jumped down at one point. His voice sounded amazing; I have never seen anyone that was more alive and so down to earth. Elton played many of his hit songs; just to name a few were “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, “Rocket Man”, “Benny and the Jets.” He then ended his set with “I’m Still Standing.”
At this time, Leon Russell came back to the stage and they began their set for “The Union”. It was surprising to see so many people singing the words to the songs with the album just coming out last month. It was impressive to see the age-range at this show as well. There were so many young adults and more matured ones, who were undoubtedly true fans. Elton and Leon started off with “If It Wasn’t For Bad.” This song has that familiar Leon Russell Tulsa Sound. The first song that Elton and Leon wrote together for this album was “A Dream Come True.” It has a great bluesy-rock-gospel sound; the back-up singers add just the right touch to make this song an all-out jam-fest. This set ended with “In the Hands of Angel’s”, a song Leon wrote about Elton. Elton said that no one had ever written a song about him before. The fans honored Leon with a standing ovation after this song as he left the stage once again.
I have never been to a show that went this long (over 3 hours) that did not include an intermission. Elton John went right into another set of his hit songs, among them were “Levon”, “Candle in the Wind”, and finished on a high note with “The Bitch Is Back.” The lights went dim for the encore; moments later Elton came back to the stage and starting from one end to the other, he signed autographs on t-shirts, concert tickets, programs and more. This went on for seven minutes, I actually timed it. It was incredible to see Sir Elton John do something so selfless and so wonderful for his fans. I have never before seen any artist take so much time out of their show to do something like this. It was a genuine act of kindness and gratitude toward the people that love him so.
Elton John Photo Gallery
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
Elton John ended the night right before 11:30 with “Your Song” that he dedicated to everyone in the arena. There was so much love in the air as he waved and thanked all his fans for coming to the show. This was a fantastic night! Both Elton and Leon are masters of the piano; they are truly in a league of their own. With the hit songs from each solo set and to see Elton and Leon jam out with their incredible band together; the only word that comes to mind to sum up the entire event is “magical”. It was a night of music history that will remain in our hearts forever.