Daily* Deep Track: Elton John “The Cage”

Okay, so this is my first “cheat” since re-invigorating this blog. My Friday consisted of a 12-hour work day, must-do errands, and a failed power nap thanks to clumsily breaking a glass full of water on the nightstand. Time to put my thoughts in pixels was lacking. No matter, after all that, I managed to get out to see my buddy Kris Rodgers’ Elton John tribute show at Empire in Portland last night.

Oh, there were hits, for sure. “Bennie and the Jets.” “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” “Your Song.” All played with enthusiasm and reverence. I’m always impressed by which deep cuts make the set list at a tribute show, and there were some killers. “Amoreena,” for instance, was done in an “11-17-70″ type arrangement with just piano, bass and drums. So was the extended workout on perhaps my all-time favorite Elton track,”Burn Down the Mission” (“Tumbleweed Connection” is not only my favorite Elton album, but easily on my list of 50 desert island albums.) The full band tore into favorites like “All The Girls Love Alice” and “Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding.” A trio of backing vocalists lifted classics like “Border Song,” “Harmony” and especially “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” to lofty heights (could you imagine those Elton records missing those wonderful backing vocal arrangements?)

dirty gems
True Elton tributes require proper attire.

The surprise of the evening was hearing perhaps my favorite track from Elton John’s self-titled second album, “The Cage.” This is prime early Elton, and a song that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on his little-heard debut album “Empty Sky.” True to form, a horn section helped power this song along on stage, even covering that proggy synth part from the original record. (It then dawned on me it had been forever since I listened to Elton’s self-titled breakthrough, so a full listen was inspired today.)

Thanks to Kris, the Dirty Gems, the horn players, and the singers for a fine evening of entertainment! (Kris Rodgers has some great albums with his own tunes, too. Great musician and an all-around good egg.)



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