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Published on Apr 22, 2012
1986 is one of my favorite years of all time. The shows are of such a high quality, both technically and musically. Also this year has some of Elton's best vocal performances and unfortunately his absolute worst vocal performances of all time! This show, Elton's 20th show at Madison Square Garden, New York 12th of September 1986, is a kind of mix between bad and good with the good side being the heaviest. The recording is in a great quality despite being an audience recording and is almost entirely complete (cuts on Tonight and Your Song).
What is strange about this period (August/September and later) is that Elton sometimes would be in a horrible vocal shape on one day and on another day some days later he would be in a rather good vocal shape. This show is an example of that as Elton had done some pretty bad performances before this show -- Saratoga being the absolute worst. And now, a couple of weeks later Elton seems to have improved a lot and sings really good versions of the songs. Also, this show is pretty late in the year when it comes to Elton's voice getting into problem, but he manages to give an excellent show! Tonight has a severe cut, but what we actually hear is great! In the end he makes a tender falsetto which sounds good. On this show Elton isn't as modest with his falsettos as on previously shows. Elton still sings songs conservative (One Horse Town, Someone Saved My Life Tonight, Rocket Man etc.), but the versions are really good versions of that character. On the other hand, Elton sometimes airs the notes on some songs which don't sound good. Also, Elton doesn't always makes the right falsettos -- he complete fails on the "magazine" note on Bennie And The Jets (this particular falsettos is the last for 11 years -- he did it in 1997). On the same song Elton makes one of his famous piano improvisations which I adore. They're fantastic! A good versions of Someone Saved My Life Tonight as Elton seems to feel comfortable in the key (unlike Saratoga where he almost can't sing the song!), though being conservative in spots. Another good moment is the Medley where Elton sings an excellent version of A Song For You. Levon is also good, being one of his most requested songs at the time. Elton is as usual playing guitar on Love Song and does a great job and sings a good version of the song. Great version of I'm Still Standing with Elton scatting in the intro. Nikita is also good! Candle In The Wind is awesome, but for me it doesn't beat Sydney 1986; Elton's voice is more rough on Sydney, but he makes nicer phrasings and the roughness suits that particular version! Really good version of Your Song (well, what we hear of it) and if it had continued it probably reached Prince's Trust standards! What makes this show even better is that the audience is fantastic! They're also contributing to make this show a pearl for 1986!