Another treasure from the piles…can you believe I still have this!? This concert was at the San Diego Sports Arena. I wasn’t of driving age yet, so my mother drove me to the show. Remember that scene from Almost Famous where the kid’s mother drops him off – at the San Diego Sports Arena! – and shouts after him, “Don’t do drugs!” There was that tone about this night. Afterward, my Mom said it was cheaper to enjoy the concert from the parking lot, because she could hear everything from inside, as she sat in the car and waited for us in the parking lot. Side note: it is no fluke that the Sports Arena is featured in that scene from Almost Famous. Cameron Crowe, who wrote and directed that film, went to my high school in San Diego (two years ahead of me, I think) and we shared several of the same musical experiences in that city.
My memory is that it was a great show. We were seated in the upper deck, but just forward of the front of the stage, up on the stage left side. From that vantage point, we could see everything, and Elton faced us when he played the piano. Ray Cooper was great fun to watch, as well, gyrating and banging on every percussive object within reach. There were gray styrofoam boulders strewn around the stage, and at strategic moments (or whenever the urge would take hold of him), EJ would pick one up and hurl it into the crowd. At one moment, he grabbed onto a cable hanging from the rafters and swung clumsily out over the first few rows of the audience seated on the floor. This was during his crazy antics phase, the big glasses stage, and about two weeks before the U.S. release of Rock of the Westies (hence, the boulders).
I can’t remember what was played, but I found a set list from an October 14, 1975 show in Portland, Oregon at this site. Here it is:
I Need You To Turn To
Take Me To The Pilot
Dan Dare (Pilot Of The Future)
Rocket Man (I Think Its Going To Be A Long Long Time)
Have Mercy On The Criminal
Funeral For A Friend / Love Lies Bleeding
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Bennie And The Jets
Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy
Someone Saved My Life Tonight
The Bitch Is Back
Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
I Saw Her Standing There
We All Fall In Love Sometimes / Curtains
I imagine that the San Diego set list was similar to this Portland set list. It was after this tour that the quality of EJ’s output started to become spotty. Nonetheless, there couldn’t have been a better discography from which to pull a long set list like this one, so we were surely fortunate to have seen him at this time.
The following video is from the Dodger Stadium concert, barely a month after the one in San Diego:
This series of shows signaled a peak, of sorts. It was sometime during the week of this October 1975 concert, dubbed “Elton John Week” by the city of Los Angeles, that he endured a drug overdose.
This year, Elton John celebrated his 60th birthday with a spectacular concert buoyed by a set list that borrowed heavily from his early songbook. Here is the 2008 version of “High Flying Bird,” originally from the 1973 album, Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player:
Ah, for the good old days.