FIRST NIGHT WITH NEIL WHITE, November 27, 2002
After 33 years of live performances highlighted by duck outfits, impressions of Louis XIV and manic behaviour on and off stage, Sir Elton John finally showed last night how he has matured into his 50s.
In, for him, a rather understated purple and black suit, he showed a glimpse of his most humble side on the first night of his British tour.
He and his audience, a fair bit older than at most of the Nottingham Arena’s events, seemed to have a mutual respect, built up over decades of record playing and buying.
He bowed politely and seemed genuinely touched by their applause, a far cry from the crazy dynamo who used to perform wearing enormous heels.
The only slightly controversial moment was when he gave his support to the firefighters claiming that he, as a British taxpayer, would willingly pay more to them, teachers and nurses. This received a warm response.
Elton did, of course, trot out more hits in one night than the Arena has ever heard before.
For two hours memories of younger times were evoked with Benny and The Jets, Daniel, Philadelphia Freedom, That’s Why They Call It The Blues, Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word and Rocket Man.
They were interspersed with more recent tracks like I Want Love and This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore.
Each time the crowd applauded vigorously and their hero wandered around the stage to make sure nobody was left out of his acknowledgement, particularly those people who, for the first time since the Arena opened, were seated behind the stage.
Then as 10pm passed it changed. The masses, as if they had previously been chained to their old age, got to their feet, and some even rushed the stage as Elton returned to rasping type and cried out I’m Still Standing.
The security guards were caught unawares by this up-until-now genteel audience, and by the time they managed to cut off the crowd, they were jigging away merrily.
This revived passion clearly delighted Elton who then produced the highlight of the night, a cracking rendition of Crocodile Rock, complete with audience participation.
Off he went and back he came for the first encore, Pinball Wizard and Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.
As all top stars do, he returned for a second time (in a tracksuit) and sang Your Song, which he said he had done at every concert since 1969.
But the niceness didn’t stop. As he departed, he signed every piece of paper and touched every hand thrust his way by his fans.
There were no tantrums, definitely no tiaras, just a bloomin’ nice bloke pleasing bloomin’ nice people with bloomin’ great songs.
Get Notted! Elton backs firefighters and other public servants in pay dispute – Thursday, November 28 2002 at 15:58:44
Elton’s UK Tour begins tonight in Nottingham – Tuesday, November 26 2002 at 18:50:45