Elton John World News: A Breath of Fresh Air

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Mountain And Garden Were Sites of Two Latest Concerts

Monday 5 May 2008 @ 16:38 - GMT

As announced previously, Elton was the star attraction at the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl as it closed for the season on Saturday.

According to the BBC, the pop veteran's piano had to be taken up the mountain to an altitude of 2,320 metres by cable car - and only just fitted in with centimetres to spare.

He gave a free two-hour show for 25,000 skiers in front of the white peaks, the latest big name to take to the slopes after a steady growth at rock concerts in ski resorts.

Since Elton first played in Ischgl back in 1995, the resort has hosted Bob Dylan, Sting, Tina Turner and the Scissor Sisters, among others 

At this show, Elton's set list included Daniel, Pinball Wizard, and Crocodile Rock.

Despite being in a ski resort, the vocalist admitted he had never skied or snowboarded.

"I would love to as it looks fun, but my insurance won't allow me to in case I beak an arm or something," he said.

"I'd also love to have a go on a four-man bobsleigh - but again my insurers won't let me."

Concerts like this are primarily a marketing ploy for the ski resorts, and they appear to be successful.

"It was a bit of a gamble to begin with and a large investment for the resort but it has really paid off," says Lynsey Devon, a spokeswoman for tour operator Inghams.

"It has really put the resort on the map and brought an increasing number of skiers in."

Getting high-profile names does not come cheap, and although the concert in Ischgl was free for skiers, it was not for the resort. It is thought Sir Elton commanded a fee of around £500,000 for his set.

There was also a 60-page list of "personal requirements".

Elton specified that he must have Persian rugs and large non-leather sofas to relax on before and after the show.

He wanted palm trees over two metres tall as well as a range of flowers, noting there should not be a lily in sight.

But 13 years ago, Ischgl decided to put its entire advertising and marketing budget into staging two massive concerts a year, and the ploy appears to be paying off.

It is also part of a strategy for resorts to offer more than just skiing to attract a wider client base. In part, this is fuelled by worries about global warming and the prospects that there will not be as much snow in the future.

This season has been a bumper one, though, and as the resort closes for the season there is still plenty of snow on the slopes. 

In related news, the Top of The Mountain concert wasn't Elton's only weekend performance.

A day later, the songwriter played Sir Alan Sugar's 40th wedding anniversary party.

The Apprentice boss paid Elton £250,000 to entertain evening guests in a marquee the size of a football pitch in his back garden.

To celebrate 40 years with his wife, Ann, Sir Alan also asked Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons to entertain on the grounds of his £5million Essex mansion.

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