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ELTON JOHN IN THE MILLION DOLLAR PIANO

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Caesars Palace

3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89109

888-435-8665

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$55-250

Varies, check schedule

Music

B+

AT A GLANCE

What is it?

A concert featuring the rock/pop legend Elton John that includes both greatest hits and a few from the more obscure side of his catalogue.

Where is it?

At the 4,000-seat Colosseum at Caesars Palace on the Center Strip.

Is it worth the cost?

If you have never seen Elton John or are a huge fan, then absolutely. If you have seen him in concert before, maybe go for one of the cheaper seats.

Why should I see this show?

Because Elton John is a music genius with a commanding stage presence and a deep catalogue of hits.

What else do I need to know?

The show is called "The Million Dollar Piano" because he has spent four years building a custom keyboard for this very occasion that includes LED panels built into it.

What's the bottom line?

Not the best Elton John concert ever, but still very good.

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FULL REVIEW

Elton John's 2004-2009 residency at Caesars Palace with his "Red Piano" show was one of the most successful stands by any entertainer in Vegas history. So it is absolutely not surprising that John came back to his old stomping grounds with a different production entitled "The Million Dollar Piano" in 2011.

What is surprising is that while certainly entertaining, it isn't as good as the old show.

The concept is the same. It's basically Elton John sitting at a piano for roughly 90 minutes pounding expertly through his catalogue of hits - "The Bitch is Back," "Levon," "Tiny Dancer," "Rocket Man," "Bennie and the Jets," "Philadelphia Freedom," and "Don't Let The Sun Go Down on Me" to name a few. He is an expert showman and his voice still sounds terrific, despite the fact that he doesn't even try to hit some of the high notes anymore.

The difference comes in the staging and some of the song selections.

"The Red Piano," was a full-on multi-media extravaganza with a massive LED screen showing evocative videos from filmmaker David LaChapelle that lent depth or added an unexpected dimension to John's timeless hits. It even had giant, inflatable breasts for no good reason other than it's the kind of thing you expect from a colorfully outrageous character like Elton John.

Here, the LED screen is still lit up but it is mostly showing random graphics and animations making it more of an unnecessary backdrop than an integral part of the show. And no giant breasts, sorry. The entire production is more sedate and more grown-up, which is probably befitting a man now past the legal retirement age, but at times I still wished he would haul out the giant platform shoes and signature wacky sunglasses for at least a number or two.

Even the trick of having LED screens on the piano itself - hence the million dollar part, perhaps - doesn't enliven things as much as it could or should. Maybe it would've been better if, as the singer joked, the piano also had a microwave and a washer/dryer combo.

In terms of the set list, Elton John has absolutely hit the point in his career where he can sing anything he darn well pleases, whether that be obscure deep album cuts or "Candle in the Wind" 15 times in a row. But the center section of this particular production, where most of the crack backing band disappears, and John spends a lot of the time on mournfully slow ballads, many of which are only known to die-hard fans, is a bit of a drag on the energy.

It also takes up time that could be spent on hits that you may have been expecting to hear. "Daniel," "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," and "Pinball Wizard" were all missing. "Candle in the Wind" was not only not done 15 times it wasn't even done once.

But in the end, all is forgiven as he barnstorms through "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" and stirs the heartstrings with "Circle of Life."

It's worth noting that set lists change, so the specifics of what you hear on the night you see the show may be different.

Elton John is an icon; a legend. "The Million Dollar Piano" is a great showcase for him, with classic music from a master musician. Very few people can do better onstage in terms of entertaining and engaging and audience than he can.

But this is not the best Elton John concert you'll ever see in your life. "The Red Piano" may have been. That's why I gave that show an A.

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