Welcome, Sir Elton
PERFORMER'S VISIT DRAWS COLORFUL FANDOM
Elton John performs tonight at the DCU Center. (T&G Staff/MARK C. IDE)
WORCESTER — The fans, wearing oversize glasses, festooned with pipe cleaners and stick-on glitter, only reinforced what was on the marquee outside: Elton John was in town.
Sharon L. Thompson and her daughter, Serena Fackos, wore their glittery eyewear on top of their heads like tiaras in celebration of the British pop icon's sometimes outlandish fashions. Standing inside the lobby tonight at the DCU Center, Ms. Thompson, of Falmouth, said she has always been in awe of Elton John, and was eager to make the drive to Worcester for tonight's show.
“I hope he does “Circle of Life,” she said, referring to the song he wrote for the 1994 Disney animation, “The Lion King.”
Her daughter, Serena, of Pawcatuck, Conn., was just as fervent.
“He's been on my bucket list,” she said. “I like ‘Benny and the Jets.'”
The crowd filled the lobby well before the interior doors opened for the 8 p.m. show. Ticket holders comprised a mix of ages, but it was weighted heavily with the AARP generation. Some brought their children. The only fashion statement more prevalent than gray hair and denim jackets was leopard skin print.
Mark Brawsay, 37, of West Springfield, with bleach blond hair and leopard print jeans, said he wore the jeans specifically for this show, one of several of Sir Elton's he has attended.
“He's always a good show,” he said, “and well worth the buck. I try to see him when he's in the area, depending on the ticket prices.
“I like all his stuff, but mostly I like his earlier stuff,” he said of Elton John's 40-year-long recording career.
Jaymie Cutler of Brookline said she and her boyfriend waited until the last minute and still got tickets.
“I've seen the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney, and I hold him up there with them,” she said. “I've seen the Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead, and this just completes the cycle.
“I'm thrilled to be here. It brings back memories from college.”
Outside, limousines dropped off concert goers while scalpers tried to sell tickets. One fan said he saw front-row tickets for sale online for $600 each.
Sherrie Tarquinio of Hubbardston, and her friend, Kathy McGrath of Auburn, said they had seen Sir Elton before, years ago.
“I saw him in Mansfield when it was the Great Woods,” Ms. Tarquinio said. “I like all of his stuff, but I would like it if he sang ‘Candle in the Wind.'”
Ms. McGrath recalled seeing him perform at the former Cape Cod Coliseum in the 1970s.
“I like his old stuff, like ‘Candle in the Wind,' but I don't know much of his newer stuff,” she said.
Outside, Chris Miller, 25, of Worcester waited for a friend to arrive to loan him some cash to buy a ticket.
“I've wanted to see him for a while,” he said. “I like all different types of music.”
Elton John Brings Out Surprise Guest at Hit-Filled Show
Nobody mentioned a special guest.
What started as an evening with Elton John and his band Friday at Mohegan Sun turned into a rare opportunity to see John share the stage with Leon Russell, the singer, songwriter and pianist. The two last year recorded an album together, "The Union," and John, 63, introduced Russell, 68, as one of his biggest influences.
Their eight-song interlude interrupted the steady flow of hits from John, which an unfortunate number of people in the packed arena took as an opportunity to wander around or top off their beers. In a way, though, the set within a set was the most interesting part of the show, which stretched to just shy of 3 hours.
Sure, the John-Russell collaboration is less familiar than, say, everything else on Elton's set list, from "Love Lies Bleeding" at the start of the show through favorites including "Levon," "Tiny Dancer," "Rocketman," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Bennie & the Jets," "Candle in the Wind" and "Crocodile Rock" — a dazzling roster of hits. But the obvious reverence that John showed for Russell, and the way he clearly cherished having Russell perform with him, transcended even a back catalog as deep as John's.
"One of the reasons I wanted to get hold of Leon again was to make people realize how brilliant his career has been," John said. Indeed, Russell, who played with everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis to Frank Sinatra to George Harrison to the Byrds, gets inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Monday.
Playing on facing pianos, the pair traded verses and piano fills on the smoky roadhouse number "If It Wasn't for Bad" and the up-tempo boogie "Monkey Suit." Russell, white hair cascading over his shoulders from beneath a white cowboy hat, took the lead in a craggy voice on the ballad "Gone to Shiloh," and he anchored the gospel shouter "Dream Come True."
With that, Russell departed and John resumed the hit parade, performing every song with an abundance of energy and looking as if he had never enjoyed himself more. He got up from the piano to play air drums during the breaks on "Take Me to the Pilot" and frequently pointed at people in the crowd between songs.
He performed mostly with a band including longtime drummer Nigel Olsson and guitarist Davey Johnstone and a quartet of backup singers, though he took a solo-piano turn on "Candle in the Wind."
John ended the main set with "Crocodile Rock," egging the crowd into singing along, before returning to play "Your Song" for the encore.
• Click Here To See More Pictures From The Concert
Annie Lennox sticks up for Elton John over Cowell's jibes
by Dean Piper, Sunday Mirror 13/03/2011
- Why can't Elton John see the selfless genius of Simon Cowell?
So Elton John thinks The X Factor is 'boring'? Hasn't he been following the successes of the stars Simon Cowell has nurtured?Lost in Showbiz knew that Piers Morgan's interview with Simon Cowell was going to be good ? after all, nothing says ruthless no-holds-barred interrogation like being interviewed on US television by someone who owes their entire US television career to you. But it couldn't imagine just how good. It started to get an inkling that it was on to something very special when Morgan broached the subject of Elton John's criticism of The X Factor ("boring and arse-paralysingly brain crippling", "I'd rather have my cock bitten off by an alsatian than watch The X Factor" etc). This caused Cowell to go into pious it's-all-about-the-music mode, and few things in the world make Lost in Showbiz's heart race like Cowell in pious it's-all-about-the-music mode. People like Elton John, he said, were "only worried about themselves". "I always want to say to them: 'I tell you what, you just made a million dollars off your last private gig. Go and give it to a bunch of young musicians you care about, put them in the studio. Go and nurture them. Go and spend some time looking after them.'"
Closing its ears to those who sneeringly add: "Then go and drop them like a hot brick after 'disappointing' sales of their debut album", Lost in Showbiz notes that this provides handy clarification for anyone who had previously assumed The X Factor was essentially the musical equivalent of a giant effluent truck with its nozzle attached to the charts, its pump set to "expel" and Cowell cackling dementedly in the cabin, while waving a vast wodge of banknotes with one hand and making the "wanker" sign at everyone who passes by with the other. To them, it sends a clear message: you're wrong. The X Factor is essentially a philanthropic organisation. Cowell's personal fortune of £165m has been amassed by accident, merely as an unwanted byproduct of his selfless dedication to helping others.
And what others they are. Of course, attention is often hogged by Leona Lewis, this week understandably voted the most influential woman to have lived or worked in London over the last 100 years in a poll for International Women's Day conducted by Metro. She got 70% of the vote, while Emmeline Pankhurst got 1.7%, which provoked precisely the kind of po-faced grumbling that Cowell addressed in his interview. Many people pointed out that Pankhurst was described by Time magazine as someone who "shaped an idea of women of our time and shook society into a new pattern from which there could be no going back". To which Lost in Showbiz can only respond: yeah, and what was her version of Run by Snow Patrol like? Any good?
But let us not dwell on Lewis, for she is merely the brightest in a crowded firmament of superstars who owe their legend to The X Factor and the selfless dedication of Cowell to looking after new talent. It seems almost pointless to reel off their names, permanently emblazoned as they are in the national consciousness and the history of rock'n'roll alike, but here goes: Tabby Callaghan! 2 To Go! Cassie Compton! Addictiv Ladies! Miss Frank! 4 Sure! 4 Tune! Journey South! Ben Mills! Admittedly, it's quite hard to keep track of some of their activities ? their websites often appear to have either gone offline or don't seem to have been updated for several years ? but who can blame them for seeking a degree of anonymity, a little privacy, in the glare of the enduring, perhaps even interminable, globe-straddling fame that an appearance on The X Factor can bring?
Those who Lost in Showbiz has been able to find bear testament to what can be achieved with the benefit of Cowell's nurturing hand, feeding your career with the Baby Bio of his wisdom and experience. Their websites are packed with phrases that glitter, sprinkled as they are with the stardust of unimaginable success: "the second single was a download-only purchase that reached No 94 in the charts"; "his third album is due for release by Conehead Records sometime in June", "personal appearance at the Tropicana Club, Chapel St Leonards, near Skegness". It's hard to pick out highlights among such a catalogue of triumph, but let us linger for a moment on the website of Andy Abraham and marvel at the headlines on the news page. "Andy amazes guests at frozen food specialists Farmfood's Moulin Rouge evening, Leicester!" "Andy performs at prestigious equestrian event in Bedfordshire!" Do any words sum up a musical career that's been selflessly guided to its absolute zenith quite like "guest appearance at the British Dressage Northern Region Senior Home International Competition Gala Dinner"? If there are, Lost in Showbiz has yet to hear them.
Then, pausing only to look at the future bookings of The MacDonald Brothers ? the selfless hand of Cowell had guided them to Wemyss Bay Holiday Park, Renfrewshire, which Lost in Showbiz can only assume is like headlining Glastonbury, except in a caravan site near Greenock ? and to boggle momentarily at the thought of how Same Difference's recent signing session, for an album that failed to chart at all, at an Asda in Fratton went, let us move on to series four winner Leon Jackson. He paid lavish tribute to the altruistic nurturing abilities of Cowell when he gave a series of interviews announcing that he would never perform his 2007 Christmas No 1, When You Believe again ? I know, Lost in Showbiz had to clutch at the furniture to steady itself as well ? in protest at the "crushing moment" of learning he'd been dropped by Cowell by reading about it in a newspaper after his first album came out. Lost in Showbiz confesses it feels a lump rise to its throat as it thinks of the delicacy and generosity with which he fosters new talent. It points a steely gaze in Elton's direction and asks: can you honestly offer that kind of support and encouragement to an artist?