First Night: Electric Proms: Elton John, Leon Russell, Plan B and Rumer, The Roundhouse, London

4.00

Elton delivers on the hits... pity about the misses

Elton John and the country-rock legend Leon Russell opened the BBC's Electric Proms festival at London's Roundhouse last night with a two-and-a-half-hour show of classic hits, some lesser-known treats and a run-through of the pair's latest album The Union.

Forty years after his last gig at the circular Camden venue supporting The Who, the multi-award winning singer/songwriter kicked off the festival's fifth anniversary with a trip down memory lane.

Starting solo with an array of classics such as Burn Down the Mission, Elton soon treated the crowd to the rarely-performed Ballad of a Well Known Gun. A glitter ball was then unveiled and he eased into the peerless classic Tiny Dancer, during which one punter took the opportunity to propose to his girlfriend (she said yes, to thunderous applause).

Sporting a relatively understated ringmaster-style black tailed suit adorned with glittering motifs, the star didn't wait long to introduce the first of his hand-picked guest singers, gritty East End soulster Plan B (aka Ben Drew).

Unfortunately, Elton's introduction of Drew as a "phenomenal singer" seemed to curse one of this year's most impressive new acts, who promptly offered a nasal rendition of I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues.

Any number from Drew's No 1 album The Defamation of Strickland Banks would have been preferable and the song was only saved by Elton's passionate keys and his band (who had been flown in all the way from Nashville). Introduced by Elton as his "idol", Russell then made his entrance in an electric wheelchair, before performing three songs solo. The British superstar admits that one of the reasons for the collaboration with Russell was to bring the musician back into the limelight. However, it's clear from a slight restlessness in the crowd that Elton's all-too frequent absences from the stage to give Russell said limelight are not always as popular as he may hope. That said, Russell put up an admirable fight for audience adoration when joined by Elton's next guest, the Laura Nyro-esque singer Rumer, who lulled the audience with a rendition of Russell's own song This Masquerade.

Elton and Russell then proceeded to return to their piano blues and honky-tonk rock 'n' roll roots for the next hour of the show. The veteran songwriter admitted to the crowd of mainly thirty- and fortysomethings that he knows it's not easy to listen to a whole album live. Yet he and Russell continued to rattle through their newest and least familiar duets and the majority of his fans seemed happy to listen.

The star has recently said his future lies in collaborating with new talent, but judging by the reaction to this Gospel-drenched double-piano epic, the old-timers draw the biggest cheers. And proposals of marriage.

Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power