Christmas In London (Retro-Tone 2006)
Hammersmith Odeon, London, England – December 24th, 1974
Grimsby, Rocket Man, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Daniel, Grey Seal, TV show’s intro., Bennie And The Jets, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, I Saw Her Standing There, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Honky Cat, Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting, Crocodile Rock, The Bitch Is Back, Your Song, White Christmas – Bonus – Step Into Christmas
Elton John’s Christmas show from the Hammersmith Odeon was broadcast live on the Old Grey Whistle Teston BBC and also simulcast on radio. The Retro-Tone label released an eighty-seven minute video tape that begins right before the actual broadcast and runs to the very end. The picture quality on this release is outstanding. The picture is sharp and the colors are rich and vibrant and there is good separation between that and the blacks. The only negative about the screen is the time code on the bottom of the screen that runs through the entire performance. The disc is pressed in NTSC format in region 0 for universal compatibility. The menu is very basic, simply a list of the tracks on the disc.
The broadcast documents the last hour of the show. “Skyline Pigeon” to “Candle In The Wind” was not video taped. The DVD picks up with “Grimsby” and the first four songs, also including “Rocket Man,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Daniel,” and “Grey Seal” were not on the actual broadcast. The long rocking jam in “Grey Seal” is interrupted for the Old Grey Whistle Test beginning and the show begins with the ending of that song. Whispering Bob Harris comes on stage dressed as Father Christmas to introduce the telecast and also to inform the audience about the stereo radio simulcast.
“Benny And The Jets” is the first full song played on the television and the site of Elton John in sequined clothes and the big off-center glass is tremendous. After the first song he introduces the band and brings out the Muscle Shoals horn section for his arrangement of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.” He points out he was criticized for covering the Beatles tune and follows it up with another, “I Saw Her Standing There.”
“Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” is a long, rocking jam. John runs around the stage, dances on the piano, and acts as if there is an invisible force keeping him from the keys by the song’s conclusion. “Saturday’s Alright For Fighting” continues with John doing his best Jerry Lee Lewis impersonation for the crowd. “The Bitch Is Back” is “not about you, but about me” he explains. “Your Song” slows the pace down a bit before Gary Glitter and Ron Wood of The Faces come onstage to help with John’s arrangement of “White Christmas” to close the show. And as a bonus, Retro-Tone include the video shot for “Step Into Christmas” which Elton John released a single the previous year. For Elton John fans this is excellent footage from the prime of his career and is a fantastic document all around.