Rocking full house greets Elton John in N.O.

With nearly 45 years of music stardom behind him and statistics including 29 consecutive Top 40 hits and sales of 250 million records, Elton John made a belated return to New Orleans Friday night, performing for an often cheering full house at the Smoothie King Center.

Featuring 28 songs complemented by a lights- and video-filled stage production featuring a massive, retractable chandelier that changed colors and patterns, the show lasted nearly three hours.

“It’s been 13 years since I played in this city,” John said after opening the concert with a trio of his classics. All three of the songs — prog-rocker “Funeral for a Friend (Love Lies Bleeding),” “Candle in the Wind” (the biggest-selling single of all time) and an ode to rock ’n’ roll, “Bennie & the Jets” — were from his 1973 landmark album, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”

The time between New Orleans concerts by the British singer, songwriter and pianist, which John called a disgrace, wouldn’t have so been so long had not a sold-out show at the Smoothie King Center, then the New Orleans Arena, been canceled following Hurricane Katrina.

“We’re very, very happy to be back here in the Big Easy,” John said before playing the sparkling piano intro for “Grey Seal,” another song from “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”

Having been around for so many years, John and his band members are middle-aged and older, but the expertly crafted John-Bernie Taupin songs they played, most of which Friday’s audience probably knew from start to finish, got full-dress, true-to-the-original-recordings performances. Whenever necessary, the music rocked, including the song John saved for the evening’s grand finale, “Crocodile Rock.”

John sat extreme stage right, playing a black Yamaha grand piano. His five-man band — including Nigel Olsson, drummer with the Elton John band since 1969, and Davey Johnstone, guitarist and mandolinist with the group since 1971 — occupied much of the stage, which was framed in an amphitheater-like shell.

Known in his earlier years for crazy costumes and oversized eyewear, John dressed with comparative restraint Friday. Nonetheless, glitter accented his blue coat with a long tail, and his small-framed glasses were tinted blue.

Singing at the piano for every song, John couldn’t, as many singers do, roam over the stage. But he made frequent, smiling eye contact with the crowd nearest to him. He also stood and acknowledged the audience following songs, feeling the love and pointing, seemingly, to specific people in the audience.

Early on, John plugged the 40th anniversary “super deluxe” edition of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” It will be released Tuesday, March 25, which also happens to be his 67th birthday. John got a laugh out of his Smoothie King Center crowd when he announced he’d be 45.

Although John performed some respectable material from his 2013, T Bone Burnett-produced album, “The Diving Board,” nine “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” songs made it into Friday’s set list. Most of them, like “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” are famous, but John also performed the lesser known “Roy Rogers.” The song is his and songwriting partner Taupin’s homage to the American cowboy movie star who was their mutual childhood hero in 1950s-era Britain.

Speaking of heroes, John made special mention of New Orleans pianist, songwriter and producer Allen Toussaint. Saying he’d gotten endless pleasure from Toussaint’s music, John dedicated “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” to him.

As is his custom, John saved “Your Song,” the beautiful John-Taupin ballad that made him a star in the U.S. in 1970, for his encore.

“You’ve been an amazing crowd,” he said before singing it. “Thank you for all the love and loyalty that you’ve given me for so long. This is song is for you. I wish you health and happiness and love.”