Thursday, May 29, 2008

After all these years, Elton John still rocks

Hard to believe, but I finally, finally, had the opportunity to attend an Elton John concert.

History making. With the exception of Neil Diamond, Elton John is by far the biggest star to grace the stage of Anchorage's Sullivan Arena. (We were living "Outside" when Neil came through.) And did he ever grace it. Just him and a grand piano. A simple but effective light show to back him up. And I'm in love with his music all over again.

I first learned of EJ in 1976. I hate to admit I was in Jr. High then, but alas, it's true. I'm old. Anyhow, that summer I listened to EJ albums at my friend's house. It was also the summer of Gary Wright's Dreamweaver, a song popular with the older high school girls who lived a few doors up the street and graciously let me hang out with them. Music, cruising and hanging out at the pool. What a summer.

Through the years, other Elton songs accompanied parts of my life. Like the summer I worked for a tour company and my friends fell in love with his song blue eyes and sang it to my cat, the one with really pretty blue eyes. Silly cat.

Last night was an extravaganza for this little big city. The big limos were out in force including the stretch Hummer, Navigator and Suburban along with the usual assortment.

Tickets for the first concert sold out in a record 52 minutes. I was online and ready when Tickmaster turned on their website at 10 am and managed to snag four tickets on the floor in just six short minutes. So there, you people who camped out over night and didn't get tickets. Modern technology wins.

For a short person, tickets on the floor generally aren't wise. Thankfully the arena provided closed ciruit TV screens on either side of the stage. We took our son and a friend of his. The friend of mine who wanted the fourth ticket couldn't get out of work. Her loss and she's probably still crying over it.

Well, needless to say, the tallest person in the building, I swear he was 6'7", sat four rows in front of us, DIRECTLY in my line of sight. Fate, right? Anyhow, thanks to the screens I was able to see EJ's little smile just as he put his fingers to the keys to play Tiny Dancer. And the fabulous facial expressions as he expanded on Rocket Man. Those two were my favorite performances of the night. Well, except for the encores of I'm Still Standing and Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me.

The filming was incredible. They had a camera at the end of the keyboard and we were treated to close-up shots of his hands tickling the ivorys. I hate to say it, but the man's hands are not sexy, but damn, he can play piano. It's easy enough to close your eyes and listen.

Before the encores, EJ strolled along the edge of the stage and signed autographs. The funniest was when he held up a white underwire bra someone handed him. He laughed, signed it, and handed it back while shaking his head in bemusement. At that point I leaned over to my son and said, "Go back to playing the piano and someday women could be handing you their underwear too." He rolled his eyes and shook his head. So shy for 17.

And the people, well, they didn't disappoint. One woman showed up wearing a red satin gown and tiara, her date in a tux. There were also the usual assortment of jeans, shorts, miniskirts and EJ period costumes. Platform shoes painted and sparkled. Souvenier glasses with red LED lights. Tour T's (I spent $80 on shirts for the two boys - ouch. I was tempted by the leather jacket for $400, but they didn't have my size - cough.) and glow sticks were popular. In fact, on person in our section was so enthusiastic with swinging their glow stick around that eventually the string broke and the stick made a spectacular show as it sailed over heads into the next section over.

It was one hell of a way to celebrate the fading pain from my recent bout with shingles. Yes, I'm doing much better, thanks for asking.

So was it worth the $700 we spent by the time all was said and done? You bet. I'm only sorry I don't have tickets to the second show he added for tomorrow night. My friend Liz will be at that show. She and her husband have tickets a few rows off the floor. She also has orders to get photos.

Morgan O'Reilly
Available Monday June 2 ~ FROZEN


LizeeS said...

Hey Morgan!
Liz here -- I did go to the EJ concert in Anchor Town on Friday. All I can say is "Woo hoo!" You are so right, he can still rock the house. I liked the same songs you did, but I also loved the more obscure numbers: "Tonight" and "Roy Rogers" and "Border Song." My daughter the uber-EJ fan says she's completely jealous because after seeing him six or seven times she has yet to hear "Someone saved my life Tonight" in concert. (And for the record -- she doesn't like this version of "Bennie and the Jets" either!)

I was impressed with the time Elton took to sign autographs and the graciousness with which he thanked Alaska for three spectacular days. He said he would never ever forget "us."

It was a classy concert as well one of phenomenal, memory-rejuvenating music. BTW, did I tell you I'd spend my nickels anytime to buy a CD of just his piano playing? One forgets the man is a real MUSICIAN.

Thanks for blogging about your experience. I totally shared your excitement.

Morgan O'Reilly said...

I'm still hearing him sing in my mind. I loved the low-key setting. Just him, a piano, and the backdrop. Classic and classy. I'm so glad we went. The good things in life are meant to be enjoyed and this was a special treat.