British pop superstar Elton John and recording partner and fellow pianist Leon Russell took the stage to a sold-out and enthusiastic crowd at McKenzie Arena on Friday night.
The performance was John's first in Chattanooga since 1999 and one of only four remaining stateside dates he and Russell will play together in support of their collaborative album, "The Union," which was released Nov. 2.
John, who is well known for his flamboyant fashion sense, took the stage in a black duster coat decorated with a colorful, stylized depiction of Russell's face under the words "Music Magic" to introduce Russell, whom he referred to as his musical "idol."
Russell then took the stage looking every inch the rock 'n' roll cowboy in a white hat, brown jacket and dark sunglasses.
He kicked off a seven-song opening set with "Tight Rope," his highest charting single when it released in 1972. Other standouts included "Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms" and the closer, "Stranger in a Strange Land," both of which were received enthusiastically by the completely packed arena.
During the first of his two solo sets, John started what would turn into an evening overflowing with greatest hits songs with "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)," which fans throughout the arena reacted to with wild enthusiasm, cameras and souvenir headbands flashing throughout the arena.
Other noteworthy hits included "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and an epic, highly lengthened version of "Rocket Man."
Russell and John then took the stage together to perform about a dozen songs off "The Union," beginning with, "If It Wasn't for Bad," on duel black pianos. John's signature red box was noticeably absent.
John returned to the stage for a final, 10-song solo set comprised entirely of his best-known works, including "Levon," "Tiny Dancer," and "Candle in the Wind." He closed the evening with "Your Song."
Contact Casey Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6205.