Saturday, May 17, 2014

Early Elton Makes a "Connection" at FTC

Photo by Gilda Caserta
When I heard that Early Elton, three talented musicians who pay tribute to Elton John's tours with bassist Dee Murray and drummer Nigel Olsson from 1970-72, were returning to the Fairfield Theatre Company’s Stage One on May 16, I had to be there. I first saw this amazing group at the FTC last August, and instantly became a fan. Once again, they put on a fabulous show, playing the classic album Tumbleweed Connection in its entirety, as well as some other EJ favorites. “Tumbleweed” is something of a concept album about Americana & the Old West, featuring such iconic songs as “Amoreena” & “Country Comfort.” It’s a powerful record that ranks with Elton's best work. And Early Elton rocked the hell out of the house with their amazing performance.

Some highlights of Friday’s show: a barn-burning version of “Burn Down The Mission” a rollicking, audience on their feet jam with “Take Me To The Pilot,” and a passionate rendering of "Levon." A couple of my personal favorites, “Can I Put You On?” (the 11-17-70 version) and “Where To Now, St. Peter?” were fantastic, and there were wonderful takes on "Border Song," “My Father’s Gun,” “Bad Side Of The Moon,” and Jeff’s intense solo version of “Talking Old Soldiers.” By the time they reached the double barreled encore of “Grey Seal” and “Tiny Dancer,” it was clear the band could have played twice as long, and we would have stayed right there with them! 

You may know John Conte (bass, vocals), Rich Pagano (drums, vocals) and Jeff Kazee (keyboards, vocals) who have played with bands like Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes and The Fab Faux. But these Early Elton Trio shows are nothing short of astounding. The group surpassed my expectations; they’re extremely talented rockers who play with emotion, conviction and enthusiasm. They love this music as much as we do; they’re fans, too, and it shows. The incredible vocals & playing by Jeff, John & Rich make their concerts wonderful experiences. This is classic rock & roll played & sung by outstanding musicians, the way it was meant to be! As I reported earlier, this was my second time seeing them, and it sure won’t be the last! Rock on, Early Elton!

The blogger with the band: Photo by Gilda Caserta

In closing, I have to report I got to meet the guys after the show, and they’re very cool. In fact, I reviewed their concert the first time I saw them in 2013 (follow the link here: and they were kind enough to mention it on their Facebook page at the time. If you get a chance to see one of their shows, don’t pass it up! Here are links to Early Elton performing “Amoreena” and “Where To Now, St. Peter & My Father’s Gun” and to their website:

Photo by John V
FTC Set List from 5-16-14
Set 1: "Tumbleweed Connection" album
Ballad of a Well-Known Gun
Come Down in Time
Country Comfort
Son of Your Father
My Father's Gun
Where to Now, St. Peter?
Love Song
Talking Old Soldiers
Burn Down the Mission

Set 2: Favorites
Bad Side of the Moon
Border Song
Can I Put You On?
Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters
Take Me To The Pilot

Grey Seal
Tiny Dancer

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