All too often, it can be the case that a legend of music – particularly one who's been singing certain songs for over four decades – doesn't even attempt to disguise their boredom as they trot out the hits. You might expect that someone like Elton John, a musician whose flamboyant persona (and wig) has threatened to overtake his achievements in songwriting over the years, may be especially guilty of phoning it in - particularly when he's touring a Greatest Hits show.
Well, let this review be evidence that assumption is the lowest form of knowledge, because last night's gig at the 3Arena was hugely enjoyable. True, there's a touch of lethargy early in the setlist as the glitter-suited John waddles onto the stage, takes his seat at the piano and bangs out a clipped telling of Bennie and the Jets and Candle in the Wind; but there's a mutual warming between singer and crowd as he plays Tiny Dancer for Lily-Mae, the formerly cancer-stricken little girl who benefitted from the Irish charity version of the song and who is in the audience tonight.
After every song he stands to receive the adulation of the crowd, who are only short of showering him in roses. It's the last night of the tour, and the first time he and his aging band have played to an English-speaking audience in twenty shows, he tells us gratefully. Graphics depicting his life's journey play on the screen behind him during the brilliant Goodbye Yellow Brick Road; Philadelphia Freedom, Rocket Man and I'm Still Standing are absolutely stomping, and Your Song – delivered to him in his parents' sitting room by Bernie Taupin in 1969, he tell us – provokes a mass singalong of 14,000 that is surprisingly moving.
It would be easier for John to leave out the cheesier moments of his back catalogue like Crocodile Rock, but it's there in the encore, along with a Circle of Life/Can You Feel the Love Tonight medley from The Lion King. It's been solid wall-to-wall hits from one of music's most celebrated songwriters for two hours – you can't ask for much more on a rainy Tuesday night.