Saturday, June 6, 2015

Early Elton Returns To FTC with a Fantastic Night of "Fan Favorites"

Rich & John - photo by John V
On Friday night, Early Elton, the talented band that pays tribute to music from the 1970-72 period of Elton John’s career, returned once again to Fairfield Theatre Company’s Stage One. Kicking off the evening with a spirited rendition of “Take Me To The Pilot,” the band rocked the place with a generous group of songs selected from fan feedback, providing us with a night of Fan Favorites. The set list included well-known tracks like  “Rocket Man” & album cuts such as “No Shoe Strings On Louise,” from 1970’s Elton John. As usual, the performances by Jeff Kazee (piano & vocals), John Conte (bass, mandolin, vocals) and Rich Pagano (drums & vocals) were nothing short of spectacular. The band, who are veterans of groups such as Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes and The Fab Faux, are musicians who are passionate about the music they play, and are always at the top of their game. They’re fans of this music, just like we are, which makes these shows even more special.

The night was filled with classic tunes, including Rich’s amazing vocal on “Levon,” John’s excellent lead on “Friends” and Jeff’s bring down the house take on “Burn Down The Mission,” based on the version from Elton’s live disc, 11-17-70. The band often trades vocals & verses during songs as well, which adds extra depth to the music. This is a tightly focused unit; they are masterful performers who clearly love playing together. Other highlights during the show included a beautiful version of  “Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters,” from Honky Chateau, a rocking turn on “Elderberry Wine,” from Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only The Piano Player, which kicked off the second set; a lovely performance of "Come Down In Time," and a kick ass rendering of “Ballad of a Well Known Gun,” both of which are on the excellent Tumbleweed Connection, one of my favorite EJ albums.

This superb night of rock & roll concluded with the groups’ two-song encore, which was comprised of terrific takes on “Grey Seal,” & “Tiny Dancer,” which had us all singing along. It was another spectacular show from this wonderful band. As I’ve said in previous posts about the group, if you’re a fan of this music (as I am) you owe it to yourself to get out there & see them. In addition to being talented musicians, they’re great guys. You’ll be treating yourself to a show you won’t soon forget. In a word, Early Elton is awesome. Their next gig is at City Winery in New York on June 19. You can read more about them on their website: The band also has a Facebook page with info about the band & upcoming shows. Here are links to performances of the songs “Ballad of a Well Known Gun” and "No Shoe Strings on Louise" from earlier gigs by the band. And if you're interested in my reviews of previous Early Elton shows at the FTC, follow the links here: and here:

Set List: Early Elton 6/5/15 at The FTC
Set 1:
Take Me To The Pilot
Border Song
No Shoe Strings On Louise
Rocket Man
Son of Your Father
My Father’s Gun
Country Comfort
Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters
Madman Across The Water

Set 2:
Elderberry Wine
Where To Now, St. Peter?
Sixty Years On
Come Down In Time
Ballad of a Well Known Gun
Burn Down The Mission - 11-17-70 version
Your Song

Grey Seal
Tiny Dancer


  1. John, thanks for the great review! Hey, you have a typo in the 2nd paragraph that I know you will want to you surely know, Rich sang "Levon".


    1. Hello, EE! Thanks for the note! You're right I do know it was Rich who sang "Levon," and have fixed the typo! Thanks for another incredible night of music! I look forward to seeing you all perform again soon!