Sir Elton

Elton John waves to the crowd in March during his show at the Casper Events Center.

File, Star-Tribune

Almost every seat was filled with people anxious to see the English singer.

"Get the diva on stage already," the man next to me yelled.

The arena's lights went down, and the beginning of Sir Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend" floated from the dark stage.

Colorful lights began to flicker, allowing the audience to steal glimpses of John and his band.

Then the stage lit up, and John appeared in a black sparkling suit with the gold initials "EJ" shining on the back of his jacket.

John and his band went straight into playing the hit “Bennie and the Jets” while the crowd screamed and sang along. The man next to me began to play the air piano, moving his fingers to the notes.

While the audience were on their feet giving applause after each number, John bowed and smiled as he pointed to each of the Center’s sections.

Between songs, John announced that 2017 is a big year for him because it is the 25th anniversary of the Elton John Aids Foundation in the United States. The nonprofit organization was created to support HIV education programs and direct care and services to those living with HIV.

John stopped in Casper as part of the tour to promote his newest album, "Wonderful Crazy Night." He last performed at the Events Center in 2007.

Overall, John played only a few songs from his 2016 album, such as “Looking Up” and “A Good Heart.” The rest were older hits including “Daniel,” “Your Song,” “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” and “Levon.”

Before performing “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” John spoke about Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student that died in 1998 after he was beaten and left tied to a fence. John told the audience that he has a picture of Shepard in his kitchen and says “hello to Matthew each morning.” John, who has performed benefit concerts in Laramie in 1999 and 2009 for the Matthew Shepard foundation, dedicated the song to Shepard.

A picture of the late singer George Michael appeared on screen, commemorating a duet the two released of the song in 1991.

John finished the show with the songs “Candle in the Wind” and “Crocodile Rock,” and the crowd pitched in by singing the “la-las.”

As much as I would have loved to have seen John in the '70s or '80s, the man still puts on a great performance. He's infectiously happy to be playing, and energy permeates the show.

One downside to the venue was that in the higher up “nosebleed” sections, the sound from the stage came across a bit scratchy and ear-piercing.

While John himself didn’t interact much with the crowd during the show, he took his time signing autographs after the performance for fans in the first few rows.

His band members pulled kids onto the stage to dance, and one boy was able to play the tambourine while sitting on John’s piano. Those kids will have memories to cherish for the rest of their lives.

But for everyone, not just the kids, the Rocket Man gave Casper a night to remember with a tour through five decades of his songs, the old and the new.

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