Home > Uncategorized > Week 9: I Go To An Elton John Concert

Week 9: I Go To An Elton John Concert

Why I chose this activity: When I first came up with the idea to try something different for 52 weeks, I decided I’d better start opening those emails I get from  places like Ticket Nation.  And the very first time I did,I discovered Elton John was planning to play in Philadelphia.  When I asked my husband what he thought about going he said: “You’ll never be able to get tickets to that, and even if you could they would be too expensive.” I love it when he’s wrong. I got tickets, nosebleed section, under $30 each. Here are ten things you might find interesting about my experience.

1. I expected it to be great. It was better than great. I’ve been to concerts before, but I’ve never been to a really big name performance by someone of Elton John’s caliber.  He had no warm up band, and he didn’t need one. He opened with a stunning, powerful rendition of “Funeral for a Friend,”–a song I’d never loved before–and pulled me right into the music.  He had a very talented band, but clearly the most amazing talent was Elton John himself, whose strong vocals, unbelievable piano playing and seemingly limitless supply of hits put this concert beyond the realm of entertainment and into the world of art.

2. We were pretty far from the stage. No, really, we were about as far from it as it was possible to be and still be in the same building. Someone asked me if it was true that he had put on weight. I had to admit that from that distance, he looked rather small. The good thing was that the Wells Fargo Center (formerly Wachovia) had taken this into account and put up those large screens directly over the stage. Even on that, I thought Elton looked pretty good. The best part about the screens was that they focused in on his hands a lot. After watching his fingers dance effortlessly over the keys all night my husband–a would-be pianist–was so overwhelmed he said “I’ll never play the piano again because now I know I can never play like that!”

3. It was Elton’s Birthday. He was 64. The only mention he made of this was to say “It really is a privilege to be able to perform on your birthday.” I thought that was kind of cool.

4. I think it’s gonna be a long, long time.  I haven’t been to a concert in a long, long  time, so I really forgot that live music is so much more, well, alive than recorded music. Elton played what I’m guessing was a 15-20-minute version of Rocket Man that would have bored me to tears if I’d listened to a recording, but which was intensely dynamic in concert. If you think about how that song ebbs and swells, you could understand how someone who had created and mastered it could push the music out in a lot of different, interesting directions, and that’s what he did.

5. A Little Known Fact About Me.  The crazy person always sits next to me. It’s true, and this was no exception. The four seats next to me were empty, and overall I thought the crowd was fairly mellow. Then,  during the third song, a couple came in and sat down in two of the seats next to me. Immediately, the woman began  screaming, waving her arms and yelling “Woooohoooo!” every few seconds. Now, I’ve been at concerts where everyone was doing that. But that just wasn’t what was happening at this concert. So I felt a little uncomfortable, especially since she kept waving her arms in front of me and jumping up and down and I, you know,  was just kind of sitting and listening and singing along. Fortunately, she switched seats with someone after a few songs. Woohoo!

6. I never really appreciated the breadth of Elton John’s hits before. Think about Saturday Night’s All Right for Fightin’, and compare it to Your Song.  They’re both engaging and entertaining, but they’re very different. What’s more, I realized afterward that although he’d played for three hours, he hadn’t gotten to all his hits. Daniel, for instance, wasn’t in the lineup. He played a total of 27 songs, including Your Song, which was the encore. “It’s really all about you,” he said to the audience at the very end. And then he played Your Song.  Here’s the setlist.

7. He played some new music. I started listening to Elton John in High School and I love all of his early songs: Candle in the Wind, Benny and the Jets, Crocodile Rock, so when he announced that he would be playing music from his newest CD, Elton John and Leon Russell: The Union,  I was kind of disappointed.  I mean, I really wanted to hear his classic hits. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed all the new songs he played, especially this one called Best Part of the Day.

8. Leon Russell. He played all his songs from the above CD with Leon Russell, who collaborated on that album with him. They played dueling pianos so it was interesting and added another dimension to the concert. Russell was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You can find out more about him on his website.  Cameron Crowe has produced a documentary about the collaboration between Russell and Elton set to open in New York on April 20.

9. I wish I’d brushed up. Next time I go to a concert I’ll do a little prep work and listen to the artist’s music in advance. I haven’t listened to Elton John in a long time, so when everyone was singing along (especially that crazy person next me) I mostly had to stick to the chorus and hum the rest.

10. I hope to go to more concerts by great performers. I still can’t believe what a great experience this was and how much I got out of it, and how much I kept thinking about it afterwards. I’m definitely opening up all those Live Nation emails from now on! Well, maybe not all of them. I mean they arrive in my inbox like twice a day. But, you get the idea.

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