Music Blu-ray Review: Elton John - The Million Dollar Piano

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Taped in February 2012, The Million Dollar Piano documents a performance from Elton John’s blockbuster residency at Las Vegas’ Caesar’s Palace. Since September 2011, John has performed the show 90 times. Now Eagle Rock Entertainment has issued a Blu-ray (also DVD) that allows fans who didn’t make it out to Caesar’s a chance to see what all the fuss was about. The nearly two-hour, 19-song show is arguably a bit sedate, but the set list contains plenty of crowd-pleasers. The titular piano is outfitted with screens that display various graphics and images, a gimmick that John stops the show to demonstrate at one point.

While John’s band displays little passion, there’s plenty of professionalism on display. His quartet of female backing singers (Rose Stone, Tata Vega, Jean Witherspoon, Lisa Stone) deserve a lot of credit for filling out the vocal sound. John’s upper range dissipated years ago, but at least he’s still got a reasonable amount of power. “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” stands out from the hit-filled pack with an extended gospel-style ending. “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” is preceded by a short, heartfelt reminiscence about performing the song at The Concert for New York in October 2001. The Lion King’s “Circle of Life” may not be to everyone’s taste, especially as a show-closer. But you can’t have everything. Besides, additional hits (like “Sad Songs” and “Candle in the Wind”) are included in the bonus features from a concert in Kiev.

Eagle Rock’s 1080i presentation is crystalline, with every detail of the ornate stage design easily discernible. If you’re accustomed to seeing modern, high definition concert videos, there’s nothing that will take you by surprise. That’s just a testament to the current standard upheld by Eagle Rock. Audio options include a robust DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix and a punchy LPCM stereo track. Pick your poison; they’re both great ways to hear the show.

In addition to the 20-minute Kiev concert excerpt, there’s also “Making The Million Dollar Piano.” It’s a 23-minute, standard issue glimpse behind the scenes, something that will mainly interest the most serious Elton John diehards.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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