April 23, 2009 - 8:52 am
The Celine jokes lasted a lot longer than the George W. jabs. Elton John’s “The Red Piano” closed Wednesday, much as it opened in February 2004, with the same video-driven set list and even some of the patter the legendary showman developed during five years of wisecracks about his thinner former roommate, Celine Dion.
The chanteuse checked out of the Colosseum a long time before him — in December 2007 — but old habits die hard. John still got a laugh out of saying “We all miss that skinny bitch.” He added later, “I actually do miss her because we used to have such a laugh.”
After the piano lid came down on his 243rd show, John will spend most of this year touring with Billy Joel. Musing about which gay icons could follow him, Bette Midler and Cher at Caesars, he joked, “It will be the Village People next.”
Sir Elton also got around to explaining the titular red piano: “I can’t come here with a black piano,” he recalled thinking at the outset. “It’s just too safe and too boring. That’s not what this town’s about.” Then he started joking about all the other colors that could have been used, including pink: “That’s too close to home,” he quipped.
The singer passed his milestone 60th birthday during the Caesars run (he’s now 62) but his voice sounded better than it did at some points along the way and he was quicker to jump up on top of the piano bench to strike a triumphant pose. He even did an old-guy version of one of his vault kicks off the keyboard during the intro to “The Bitch is Back.”
Before signing off, John teased, “One day I might even see you back in Vegas.” My vote would be for a more typical concert stop — with or without Joel — at the new Hard Rock Hotel concert venue, which is about the same size and operated by the same promoter (AEG Live).
As great as it was to have “The Red Piano” here all these years, it would be nice to see the shows the rest of the world gets to witness, which usually run twice as long and offer all the songs that didn’t fit into the succinct Caesars showcase.