John in praise of Caesars

Musician to perform in Las Vegas series

Elton John has inked a three-year pact with Park Place and Concerts West to deliver 25 concerts a year at the Colosseum in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. His first perf will be Feb. 13.

Photographer David LaChappelle will design and direct the show, dubbed “The Red Piano,” that a Park Place spokesman described as “a visual spectacle.” LaChappelle will employ the oversized LED screen that runs along the back of the stage for his visuals, and John will perform on, natch, a red piano.

It is expected John will do a show close to the 90-minute Vegas norm rather than the 2- to 2½-hour affairs he has done over the last 30-plus years. He will perform with his regular band, which includes longtime accompanists drummer Nigel Olsson, guitarist Davey Johnstone and Guy Babylon on keyboards, along with bassist Bob Birch and John Mahon on percussion.

“I have a whole new stage wardrobe to be designed for Vegas,” John said at the announcement Tuesday. “There are no ostrich feathers, although there will be some sequins flying around.”

The Colosseum is currently booked 200 nights a year with Celine Dion’s show “A New Day …” While other acts have been booked for shows at the Colosseum — Gloria Estefan and Jerry Seinfeld, for example — John is the first to sign a long-term contract. Dion has performed 105 shows since opening in March.

Park Place built the venue to house Dion’s show and, rather than promote concerts, rented the venue to Concerts West to handle the show. Deal with John will involve Concerts West, but Park Place will also participate in ticket sales profits, a spokesman said.

Seats for John’s shows are priced at $250, $175 and $100. Top ticket for Dion’s show is $225. Tickets for John’s first series of Colosseum shows, Feb. 13-22, go on sale today.

John, with 34 albums to his credit, has been touring the last several years with Billy Joel and commanding ticket prices that were close to $200 a seat.

John will be playing a half-dozen shows in the U.S. in November, and then do 12 shows in Europe in December.

(Phil Gallo contributed to this report.)

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