Elton John has captivated audiences with his skyrocketing pop songs, uncanny knack for stirring melodies and an eccentric theatricality since the late ’60s. Today, the English singer/songwriter, pianist and global superstar celebrates his 72nd birthday.
On July 25, 1982, John performed at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in New York with a live band that had previously backed him on his most famous studio albums—most notably 1973’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. His band consisted of Davey Johnstone (guitar), Dee Murray (bass, vocals) and Nigel Olsson (drums, vocals). That tour saw John reunite with that lineup, as they had been his studio and live band for nearly six years, before splintering after 1975’s Captain Fantastic.
This 1982 show was recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour, and it’s hard to argue that John has ever topped the live musicality of this four-piece lineup. This live concert recording features John’s greatest hits, many of which where taken from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. He opened the show with “Funeral For A Friend (Love Lies Bleeding)” and dove into other classics like “All The Young Girls Love Alice,” “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” John also threw in a cover of The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” and a medley that included The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There” and The Isley Brothers’ “Twist & Shout.”
Watch the trailer for the forthcoming Elton John biopic from Paramount Pictures, Rocketman (out on May 31) here. You can also revisit Paste’s review of the 2014 Goodbye Yellow Brick Road reissue here.
Listen to Elton John’s full 1982 live performance in Saratoga below.