It's hard to imagine the wondrous spectacles that were Elton John shows in the '70s. Decked out in the kind of campy dress that would make a drag queen call the fashion police, Elton pranced and danced across the stage like he owned it -- because he did. But, alas, the '80s and a monstrous coke habit came calling, and when they left John was never the same performer or singer again. What was once fun and camp somehow became tacky and the singer seemed hopelessly out of it. This CD, taken from a sold-out weekend stand at Madison Square Garden in October 2000, is his bid to capture that old live magic for the younger types who missed it the first time around. Through the course of 17 tracks the artist huffs, puffs, wheezes, sputters, and does everything in his power to find that once unbridled energy. Does he? No, not really. But he does play nearly every major hit he's had in the process which, when you realize how many there are and how good they are, is one hell of a consolation prize. The cover, which depicts John decked in a white suit and surrounded by bananas and the like, doesn't do much to nix the tacky tag, but the music is, thankfully, better than its packaging. He also pulls several rabbits out of his hat in the form of Bryan Adams (who guests on "Sad Songs"), Mary J. Blige (who duets on "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues"), and, most amazingly, Kiki Dee, who rips into "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" in a way that Rupaul could only dream of. No, he hasn't recaptured that '70s magic, but the melodies are still great and you'll still know every word.
AllMusic Review by Steve Kurutz