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Arts and Entertainment

Elton John Plays Free USC Show, Will Play Moscow To Support Russian Gays

Elton John performs with USC Thornton School of Music students at Bovard Auditorium At USC on September 16, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
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USC students lined up for a chance to see Elton John and, by all accounts, were not disappointed with his set as he wowed the crowd with classics and songs from his new album, "The Diving Board."

The music icon performed with USC Thornton School of Music students and other guest performers, such as the cellist duo, 2CELLOS, Annenberg TV News reports.

He played classics including "Tiny Dancer," "Philadelphia Freedom," "Benny and the Jets," "Rocket Man," "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me," and "Your Song."

During a Q&A, John said his new album reflects his love for the piano as well as his maturity, saying "[my record] is who I am now, not who I was."

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He also offered some advice for students, telling them they can be a positive force for change, saying, "I have great faith in the young...the energy of youth isn't like any other."

He told students to keep pursuing their goals and to never settle: "You have to keep trying and improve...coasting is dangerous." Tickets were handed out via lottery to lucky students.

Meanwhile, John told the Guardian that, unlike other artists including Cher, he will be performing in Russia.

"I'm supposed to be going to Moscow in December," he told the British paper. "I've got to go. And I've got to think about what I'm going to say very carefully. There's two avenues of thought: do you stop everyone going, ban all the artists coming in from Russia? But then you're really leaving the men and women who are gay and suffering under the anti-gay laws in an isolated situation. As a gay man, I can't leave those people on their own without going over there and supporting them. I don't know what's going to happen, but I've got to go."

He says he'd like to play Egypt again, "but they banned me from going there a couple of years ago because I'm gay."