The Rocket Man has returned. Singer, songwriter and musician Elton John is back at Caesars Palace for a three-year residency, his third as a Caesars headliner.
Elton kicks off his show, The Million Dollar Piano, with "The Bitch is Back," crowd pleaser "Bennie and the Jets" and what Elton calls one of his favorite songs, "Rocket Man."
The focal point of the stage when Elton is singing is, of course, the piano and Elton introduces it as "the other star of my show."
The show's namesake instrument, created by Elton and Yamaha, is an engineering marvel that took nearly four years to make and weighs 3,200 pounds.
The piano features more than 68 LED video screens on the side of it, which create the perfect accompaniment to Elton's greatest hits, displaying imagery that complements the songs and sometimes mirroring what's being projected on the mammoth screen behind the Colosseum stage.
Elton said he has five pianos all over the world with different names and this one is called Blossom after jazz singer and pianist Blossom Dearie. The piano is so high-tech that Elton jokes it has a microwave and an aquarium under its glass top. "The only thing it doesn't do is barbecue," he said.
Besides the eye-catching piano, the rest of Elton's show is visually stunning as well. The set features large golden scrolls decorated with piano keys on either side of the stage, a huge golden dog standing guard on one side, large golden Roman-inspired columns and rocket ships flying through the air. The designer, Mark Fisher, is known for his design of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" and his work designing the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Although there's a lot to look at, the show is all about the Elton's award-winning music. He sings the big hits that everyone wants to hear including "Tiny Dancer," "I'm Still Standing" and "Levon." Elton is backed by a five-piece band, two cellists (who appear on several numbers) and four female background singers including Rose Stone from Sly and the Family Stone and her daughter, Lisa Stone.
After playing several numbers with the band, there's a segment that Elton calls "the mini unplugged section of the show" where it's just him and his million dollar piano for songs like "Your Song" and "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters."
Elton dedicates the song "Blue Eyes" to his late friend Elizabeth Taylor as images of her float across the screen and the stage is bathed in a blue hue.
The colors turn yellow for "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" while an animated trip through Elton's life flashes on the screen behind him.
"Philadelphia Freedom" is a high energy explosion of red, white and blue lights and stars and stripes on the screen behind Elton and the screens on the piano.
The crowd gets involved on "Crocodile Rock" as live video of Elton singing is projected on the screens before the camera is turned on the audience to show video of them dancing and singing along.
The production comes to a close with "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" as Elton invites a few lucky audience members to gather on stage around the piano to dance and get an up-close look at his considerable piano playing talents.
--By Kristine McKenzie