REVIEW: Elton John - A Day On The Green (Mt Duneed Estate)

REVIEW: Elton John - A Day On The Green (Mt Duneed Estate)

Tonight is A Day On The Green’s 475th live show and they couldn’t have celebrated it in finer style or with a bigger name. It’s Rock'n'Roll Royalty with a Capital E. As a nod to just how high-flying today’s attraction is, Sir Elton John’s personal luxury helicopter has been sitting quietly unnoticed by most in the paddock behind the stage security scrims since early afternoon.

It’s quite a big deal to the trainspotters amongst us but it’s just business as usual for the security personnel on the A Day On The Green team – who, upon seeing me cotton on to what I’ve just spied through a gap in the fence – give me a nonchalant smile and a knowing wink. During the afternoon as the ever growing crowd settle in for the evening, I chat with a few of the on-ground staff and find them all super friendly and helpful. It’s comforting to to know that whatever transpires later on, you’re in seasoned, experienced hands.

REVIEW: Elton John - A Day On The Green (Mt Duneed Estate)

First Half:

As the last few rays of comforting Victorian sun slowly ebb their way lower and lower over the Geelong horizon, and a few amongst us start to feel the first chills of a light evening breeze, a familiar A Minor chord repetitively tolls across the paddock and joyous arms of instant recognition shoot skyward. ‘Bennie & The Jets’ (and ‘his solid walls of sound’) have once more reconvened to the rolling hills of Geelong.

The sound techs have done a great job at soundcheck and the mix tonight is right on the money – and even with a light cross wind – the band sound glorious… tight, big, brassy and bold. With nearly 5 decades belting out the hits, it’s only fair to expect that Elton’s vocal register is going to be a bit lower than on record… perhaps one of the reasons he can still perform close to a 3 hour show night after night after night.

Sir Elton is known to have certain idiosyncrasies, and one of the most well known of these is that he prefers NOT to be photographed any closer than from back at the sound desk… (we’re talking at least 100 metres away). My great mate Carbie Warbie, a seasoned pro snapper is towing the official line and is relegated to only shooting songs 1 and 5 tonight, so has no choice but to front up with a massive telephoto lens – the only way he’s assured of getting anything decent from that far away.

REVIEW: Elton John - A Day On The Green (Mt Duneed Estate)

The first big surprise of the evening follows, with Elton dusting off the wonderful ‘All The Girls Love Alice’ from “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’… tonight it’s greeted with dewey eyes by some of the older Elton fans, who can scarcely believe they are getting to hear it live for quite possibly the last time in their lives.

‘I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues’ is the second singalong of the evening… a classic with many as it’s greeted with more than a few loving glances and embraces among the crowd. Next up is the incredible ‘Border Song’, the first single from Elton’s second self titled album in 1970. Before he begins, he takes a few moments to contextualise just why it was such a watershed moment for himself and Bernie Taupin as young songwriters and composers. Apparently eight weeks after the album came out, he and Bernie got a call from their music publishers to say Aretha Franklin had recorded her own version of it, which was a tremendously encouraging shot in the arm for the pair.

I notice that during ‘Tiny Dancer‘, Elton seems distracted by someone in the pit directly below him at the piano between breaths, he glowers at them repeatedly and still not seeming to be communicating his annoyance, mouths… ‘GOOO AWAAAAY!’.

The chugging ‘Philadelphia Freedom’, gets the crowd pumping again… a song written for Elton John’s friend, tennis star Billie Jean King. (King was part of the Philadelphia Freedoms professional tennis team). Penned way back in 1975, despite the intervening years, the song has lost none of its joyous propulsive verve – it’s fantastic to hear it included in the set tonight.

REVIEW: Elton John - A Day On The Green (Mt Duneed Estate)
Keyboards: Kim Bullard

Next up is ‘Indian Sunset’, a song Elton describes as a lyrical ‘9 page challenge’ presented to him by Bernie, which he decided to break down into three seperate movements, and use the emotion of the song to convey the story behind the demise of the American Indian.

Something that I’d been hoping for with this gig was an opportunity to see Elton’s crack band really stretch out with some impressive jamming. He has some of the most respected players in the world in this lineup and the first sign – that he was open to doing just this – was when he trotted out ‘Rocket Man’. It featured the kind of extended improvisational jams that proved to be a true highlight of the evening.

The barrage of hits that came next: ‘Take Me To The Pilot’, ‘Sorry (Seems To Be The Hardest Word)' and ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’ simply served to remind us we were in the company of greatness. The likes of which are seldom rivalled in today’s music business.

Another brilliant extended jam featured in ‘Levon’, from ‘Madman Across The Water’. The final song before the first costume change was ‘Candle In The Wind’ featuring some lovely melancholic archive footage of screen goddess, Marilyn Monroe. It was a nice change to hear the original lyrics rather than the later version Elton doctored to pay tribute to Princess Diana.

REVIEW: Elton John - A Day On The Green (Mt Duneed Estate)

Second Half:

The second half of the show began with an absolutely blinding rendition of ‘Funeral For A Friend‘ backed with ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ which was then followed by ‘Burn Down The Mission’ . This trio of songs was characterised by quite exquisite visuals and special effects, with Elton’s piano seemingly catching on fire at one point. Brilliant.

It was then ‘sing along’ time again with another bevy of big songs: 'Daniel', 'I Want Love’ and ‘Sad Songs (Say So Much)’.

Elton then took time to pay tribute to his long serving bandmates, some of whom have been with him since the very beginning.

REVIEW: Elton John - A Day On The Green (Mt Duneed Estate)
Percussion: Ray Cooper

REVIEW: Elton John - A Day On The Green (Mt Duneed Estate)
Lead Guitar: Davey Johnstone

REVIEW: Elton John - A Day On The Green (Mt Duneed Estate)
Drums: Nigel Olsson

From then on, it was on towards the home stretch… which simply meant more of the same, all killer, no filler: ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’, ‘The Bitch Is Back’, ‘I’m Still Standing’ (complete with a stage invasion from a female fan, who was a little bit tipsy), ‘Crocodile Rock’ and then ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’.


Following ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’, Elton takes a short break before returning to close out the evening in his dressing gown, with perhaps his most famous song, ‘Your Song’ and then the penultimate ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’.

As the song concludes, he walks to the back of the stage, gives one final wave and disappears through a slit in the screen… to then reappear moments later up on the big screen… strolling away along the self same ‘Yellow Brick Road’… disappearing into the sunset for perhaps quite some time to come.

REVIEW: Elton John - A Day On The Green (Mt Duneed Estate)

As the last few notes of the outro music fade, a long list of show credits roll over the big screen… to the tune of ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’. The field lights around the site slowly come back up, revealing a hillside of very happy punters, who – despite being shoulder to shoulder with each other for almost three hours – are still very much in a party mood.

An impromptu choir of 15,000 happily sing along to Elton and Kiki Dee at the top of their voices, as they shuffle slowly towards the exits, the carparks and the inevitable snail trail of red tail lights all the way back home.

The happy chorus is momentarily accompanied by the putter of Elton’s Chopper as it rises above the scrim and heads on its much less arduous journey back to Melbourne. Many in the throng realise it’s the great man and wave a friendly ‘thank you’ skywards.

One gets the feeling that somewhere behind that chopper’s smoked windows, a pair of bespectacled eyes happily surveys the scene. The impromptu thanks he receives in this moment must just be the absolute icing on the cake. With dozens more shows scheduled in Australia and New Zealand over the coming months, there will be much more of this to come.

REVIEW: Elton John - A Day On The Green (Mt Duneed Estate)

The ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’ Tour is the last real opportunity to see him out and about where he is bringing his show to you. In the future, if you wish to catch him live, travel will be part of your ticketing budget.

At the conclusion of this tour, Sir Elton will take what is only being referred to as ‘an indefinite haitus’, while he reacquaints himself with his beautiful young family. Citing he has had enough applause to last him a million lifetimes, family is now very much the priority.

What an absolute joy it is to have had the privilege to catch such a legend at the top of his game. Lucky for you, there are still plenty of opportunities to catch the great man as he is in the region until mid March and new dates and further ticket releases are being announced all the time.

Just one cautionary word of warning – if you are considering purchasing tickets for any Elton Show, please ensure you purchase through official channels. NB: Do not purchase through Viagogo. Hundreds have already been stung after purchasing what they thought were legitimate tickets through this reseller website, only to be turned away in droves.

REVIEW: Elton John - A Day On The Green (Mt Duneed Estate)
Setlist photgraph by Harry Willams.
All other photographs by Carbie Warbie.

Check out Carbie Warbie's comprehensive photo gallery, on our sister music website, GigBill.

REVIEW: Elton John - A Day On The Green (Mt Duneed Estate)

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