This wasn't my first foray into Rocket Man territory, and based on previous performances I'd experienced, I had high expectations for this one. And so did Dunedin. The air of anticipation was thick, the streets surrounding the Octagon packed, and there was a buzz in the city that wasn't anything to do with the impending elections. The Nats and Greens did try to profit off the concert buzz, mind you, each taking to an opposite side of the road near the stadium entrance. Points to the Greens for adding a bit of bedazzled style to their outfits.
There's no telling what particular persuasion John fans might be. In fact there's no categorising them at all. The Forsyth Barr Stadium was packed with An equal dispersion of men and women, ranging from a child who looked to be all of six years of age, to an elderly lady enthusiastically waving her glow stick. Many were adorned with oversized spectacles, feather boas, hats and Elton-esque suits to boot.
It wasn't long before it was John was onstage to entertain the audience, opening the show with rock anthem Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting, followed by '80s classic I'm Still Standing - quite the apt title when you consider John this year turned 64.
For a man who's been gigging for over 40 years and who recently completed his 3000th concert, John still has a passion for live performance that's infectious. The fun police trying to quell dancing audience members had no chance as fans descended onto the pitch behind the sound console to let loose. It wasn't long before even the most reserved audience members were up in their seats dancing, too.
Over the course of the night John dipped into his vast catalogue of hits: Tiny Dancer' (which he dedicated to the ladies), Philadelphia Freedom, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues, Candle in the Wind, Honky Cat, Bennie and the Jets, Bitch is Back and Daniel, to name but a few. 'Rocket Man' was a particular treat, building to an epic piano and soulful vocal climax that stretched the song out past 10 minutes.
There were a couple of points where the show lost momentum when John covered songs from newer and lesser known albums. That said, a funked up song from a recent collaboration with Leon Russell still managed to get the audience going.
John's voice hasn't been able to hit those high notes of the '70s for a long time now, but he can get away with it thanks to a backing band which includes the likes of Rose Stone, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and original member of Sly and The Family Stone, as well as drummer Nigel Olsson, an original member of the 1969 Elton John band, and Davey Johnstone, John's guitar, mandolin, and banjo player since 1971.
Stopping only to stand up and thank the crowd after each song, it took two and a half hours for John to have his first break. The encore kicked off with 'Your Song', which John dedicated to the audience. In a perhaps surprising move, he ended the show with a mash up of his Lion King soundtrack hits, Circle of Life and Can You Feel the Love Tonight.
Three hours later, and no one could complain of not getting their money's worth. Fans were on a high as they jammed the exit points, and the Forsyth Barr Stadium was no longer a rock'n'roll virgin.
Who: Elton John
Where: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
When: Friday 25 November