In September of this year, Elton John embarked on a massive farewell tour, “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” (an ode to his classic 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road), and has since traversed much of the U.S., from Philadelphia to Miami to Nashville. From the looks of it, though, this farewell tour isn’t wrapping up anytime soon (at least not for another two years, according to John’s website). That’s good news for Elton John fans across the globe: Between now and December 2020, he’ll play sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden, tour Europe and cover more of the U.S. before finishing up in his native U.K., culminating in one last show on Dec. 16, 2020, at The O2 Arena in London. For all Elton John’s tour dates (most of which are not yet sold out), go here.
If, however, you can’t make to one of those shows, don’t fret: We’ve got plenty of Elton John concert footage right here at the Paste vault. Today, there’s one particular concert that might be of interest. On this day (Nov. 26) in 1970, just over a year after the release of his debut album Empty Sky, Elton John proved his chops as a showman at this concert at the Music Hall in Cleveland, Ohio, which you can listen to below. John played his first ever concerts in the U.S. just a few months prior, at a sold-out six-night residency at Los Angeles’ Troubador club. After the Aug. 25 show, The Los Angeles Times’ Robert Hilburn expertly predicted that John would become “one of rock’s biggest and most important stars.” At this Nov. 26 show later that year, Hilburn’s prediction would begin to prove itself true—John blew his audience away, per the Wolfgangs liner notes detailing this concert:
This performance, recorded in Cleveland a few months later (after Elton had done a series of shows at the Fillmore East and West, and a number of select dates on both coasts), is essentially the same show that he presented that amazing week at the Troubadour. Featuring only himself on piano and vocals, Nigel Olsson on drums, and the late Dee Murray on bass (guitarist Davey Johnstone would join the band in 1972), Elton John blew away the audience with an energized performance of incredible musicianship, profound songwriting, and staggering showmanship. Not unlike the fiery mid-1950s performances of Jerry Lee Lewis and his band, Elton and company served up great song after great song throughout this set.
John kicked off the show with a powerhouse rendition of “Bad Side of the Moon” before playing several songs from his self-titled album from 1970 including “Take Me to the Pilot,” “Border Song” and “Sixty Years On.” He closes the show with several covers, namely The Beatles’ “Get Back” and Sly Stone’s “I Wanna Take You Higher.” You can hear it all below.
Again, you can listen to Elton John’s 1970 show in Cleveland below. While you’re at it, explore the story of his early career right here.