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Robert Morast, Published May 02 2009

What to expect at Fargodome tonight for Elton John-Billy Joel concert

Some of us like to be surprised. Some of us don’t. For those who like a little background info before stepping out of the house, we’ve done some reconnaissance on what to expect during tonight’s Elton John and Billy Joel concert at the Fargodome.

We don’t want to spoil all the fun, but here’s a taste of the format, set list and an idea of how long you’ll be in the dome. Much of the info was gleaned from insight to concerts from earlier this year.

But since tonight’s gig is the first for this leg of the tour, anything could happen.

Who will play first? Will Elton and Billy duet? Again, if their concerts from earlier this year are an indication, the night will go like this: The duo will perform together with a band and without and run through four to five songs that feature them trading vocal duties to start the evening.

Then, Elton John will take the stage by himself and perform 10 to 12 tunes. After John’s set, Joel takes over the stage for his run of 10 to 12 songs.

The pair reunites on stage to end the evening and dishes out seven to 10 showstoppers.

How long will the concert be? About 3½ hours.

Will we be able to see them well? Naturally, this depends on how much money you spent on tickets. But, if you’re asking about stage position, some shows from earlier this year have reported the solo sets feature rotating pianos; meaning both sides of the audience will get some face time.

Of course, when John and Joel are both on stage, the pianos will face each other.

OK, are we going to hear their hits? For what some people paid for tickets, they better play the hits, right? Well, you’ll get your money’s worth. The Face 2 Face tours are a night of greatest hits. And judging by recent outings, these nights only feature a couple of non-hits or notables on the set list.

Cool. So what songs will we hear? We don’t want to spoil all the surprises, but expect early era John hits such as “Tiny Dancer,” “Rocket Man” and “Candle in the Wind.” The tour’s early ’09 set lists were free of Disney soundtrack songs.

Joel’s selections should move through more of his career with the likes of “River of Dreams,” “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.” Plus, they’re going to duet on “Piano Man.” They have to.

Will there be any covers? Tough to say. But earlier this year John and Joel were rolling out a couple of Beatles tunes – “Birthday” and “Back in the U.S.S.R.”

Where will the stage be? Rob Sobolik, the Fargodome’s general manager, says the stage will be set up against the north end of the dome. According to stage drawings on the Fargodome and Ticketmaster sites, the stage will be a small half circle with the round end facing the crowd end. It won’t be that big. Seats will extend in lines straight out of and adjacent to the stage.

Do you think they’ll make mention of the flooding? Perhaps. According to concert reviews from earlier this year, Joel would add “local” comments to his between-song banter. It seems natural to hit on the flooding, but we’ll have to wait to find out.

Also, John is a known philanthropist with a heart, and the duo did donate concert tickets to area National Guardsmen, firefighters and police who fought the flood.

So, the odds are good that they mention the flood or dedicate a song to the people who battled the rising water. A more interesting question is whether they’ll donate some ticket receipts to flood relief funds.

Oh my God. This sounds awesome. Are there still tickets available? Yes. Sobolik didn’t say how many tickets are available, but out of the roughly 20,000 seats he said there are “not a whole lot left.” He also said tickets are available in each price platform – $52.50, $98 or $178. Tickets can be purchased at the Fargodome box office, which will open at 10 a.m. today.

If you go