By Phyllis Pollack
Special guests included Earth Wind And Fire, Chaka Khan, Sarah Mclaughin, Amy Grant, Michael McDonald, and many others.
Elton John headlined the show that was arguably the hottest ticket during 2013's NAMM week.
For the first time ever, music played in concert using DisklavierTV allowed all the notes that Elton played to be recreated, note for note in real time, on Disclaviers globally.
Simultaneously, the entire orchestra was seen and heard on adjacent monitors, in perfect sync with the remote piano performances in venues around the world.
Instruments played were made by Yamaha, showing the diversity of their line. The artists that played all use and endorse their products.
Performing with a 70-piece orchestra, the concert, at Disneyland’s Hyperion Theater, was streamed on the Internet.
Playing his debut hit “Your Song,” followed by “Tiny Dancer,” “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word,” an over-the-top version of “I Guess That’s Why The Call It The Blues,” and “Rocket Man,” he pulled out his best licks for the private, invitation only concert.
He used various effects the Diskclavier has, including one that simulated multi-tracking.
The multi-award winning keyboardist and singer songwriter praised Yamaha for the dedication working with him over the last many years.
He joked, while complaining about the manufacturers of the previous keyboard that he had played in the past.
Using an expletive, he said, “The company who made it actually didn’t give a (an expletive) about if I played it or not, and, which is kind of frustrating, when you know, you’re uh, quite popular.” The audience burst into laughter.
“Then Yamaha came along, and they’ve been a dream. They’ve been the most fantastic partners in music, not just for me and for my fans, but for all the bands you hear tonight, and the artists,” he said. “The new artists, and I really want to congratulate you for helping new artists. It’s really important.
“So congratulations, you guys. I just wish you made cars,” he lamented. His comment resulted in immense laughter from the audience.
Fronted by bassist Verdine White, and powerhouse vocalist Philip Bailey, whose falsetto voice wowed the audience with his vocal slides and extensive range, Earth Wind and Fire proved to have all the elements.
They played hits including “Fantasy,” “Boogie Wonderland” and “September.”
Hosted by Sinbad, who made jokes throughout the evening about how today’s popular music doesn’t hold up to that of past generations, he joked, “Parents, stop encouraging your children.”
Tonight’s focus was primarily on music of the ‘70’s on, with some exceptions.
Followed by USC’s Trojan Marching Band, known for the band’s 1979 performance in Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk,” the next performer 14-time Grammy winner David Foster. The band was directed by bassist and vocalist Nathan East.
Chaka Khan showed her vocal power while performing her 1974 Rufus hit “Tell Me Something Good,” written by Stevie Wonder. She joked, “I won’t be talking any of that funky Negro dialect tonight,” commenting, “I’ll be 60 years old this month, 40 years in the business.
Emcee Sinbad continued the show with innumerable jokes, while keeping his theme. “Who here’s 30 years and under? Y’all have no history.”
Singer songwriter Lucy Schwartz demonstrated her talent, performing “You Are You Are,” followed by a duet with singer and actor Landon Pigg, offering “Darling I Do,” which they had written together. Also performed “Cold,” written with Aqualung for the Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn soundtrack.
The Yamaha Entertainment Group’s first act signed to its Nashville-based label, the London imported trio LeoGun Band, blasted heavy metal with full-on distortion, clearly impressing the rockers in the audience.
Jazz wizards Lee Ritenour and David Grusin were part of a jazz ensemble, just prior to the return of Foster, who performed “St. Elmo’s Fire, joined by sax player Dave Koz. The band Toto also appeared, played hits “Rosanna,” “Africa,” and “Hold the Line.”
Solo artist and former Doobie Brother Michael McDonald performed his mega-hit “Minute by Minute,” and a stellar delivery of the Doobie Brothers hit “What a Fool Believes.”
Sarah McLauchlin, who also performed, and was one of the subjects of Sinabad’s endless jokes. After noting her 40 million album sales, he referred to her song “Answer,” heard on SPCA commercials about abused animals, Sinbad snapped, “I have seven stray dogs and one only has one leg.”
She received the evening’s first standing ovation for her performance of “Angel,” “I Will Remember You,” and “Adia.”
Sinbad joked about AutoTune, saying, “You don’t even have to be able to sing.” He added, “If you can’t run, we have software to make you run faster,” and “Are you dumb? We have an app on your phone to make you look like you’re smart.”
Still in collaboration with lyricist Bernie Taupin, Elton John has released radio staples including “Rocket Man,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Daniel,” “Crocodile Rock,” “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” “The Bitch Is Back,” “Philadelphia Freedom” and “Bennie and the Jets.”
His 1997 revamp of his 1973 hit “Candle in the Wind” honoring the late Diana, Princess of Wales, sold over 33,000,000 copies worldwide and set records, being heard by an estimated global television audience of two billion people.
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