Elton John World News: Kind Regards, England

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Citizen Marian Friedman reports on her funny UK Tour experience

Wednesday 18 December 2002 @ 7:55 - GMT

New Jersey, U.S.-based EJW.com Citizen Marian Joy Friedman offers a light-hearted survey of her experiences chasing Elton on his just ended UK winter Tour

I left for my Elton John adventure on December 7, 2002, a day that will live in infamy. I arrived the following morning and took on the London tubes....nervous doesn't come close to what I was feeling and I tell my American friends, if you have significant luggage, take a taxi (they say taxi there NOT cab).

Ok, so i "tubed" over to Kings Cross/St. Pancras (don't say Saint Pancrias....don't do it) and then dragged my duffle bag on wheels to the train station above ground which included steps.....

The train to Sheffield, north England, was very easy to use except that the trains are not really made for luggage.....that dirty word - luggage.  Owing to construction, the train did not arrive into Sheffield for 4 hours. It is typically a 2.5 hour ride.  Tip: This is why you give yourself an extra day when going to an event overseas...by the time I got to my hotel, I ran for the bathroom and called home to say I arrived safely.

The following day began my real adventures....in the morning I shopped the meadowhall shopping center (mall) with the most motivated Xmas shoppers I had ever seen to date until I saw pallisades shopping center (mall) in Birmingham....what was I doing shopping with these mobs?

Early evening I met with Jeff Horton and his friend.  Jeff purchased my extra Sheffield ticket. We did go to Brannigan's.  The food was horrible and the service was (could it be) worse than the food but they did play Elton John music only and for me, that was the kick-off for all things Elton...

The Sheffield Arena looks like one serious hockey arena to my eyes.  Thankfully, we had 8th row center and I barely had to move to take photos and I took many, many photos.....Jeff held up the sign we agreed upon prior to leaving the states. It said "from the usa, louder then the concord but not quite as pretty" but unlike the concord, the sign did not fly at all.....John Mahon seemed confused by the words and Elton, well I don't think he cared for it at all and preferred it wasn't seen...

But the show was wonderful...his aunt was there as well as others that he dedicated the show to.  He seemed genuinely happy that night and totally at ease....I swear it was because he was with his own people in his own land...

The audience was mild and that was perfectly fine with me. Generally speaking, the English audiences were more genteel, mild...quite a change from the manic behavior at Madison Square Garden so if you're into frenzy, then msg (or Continnental Arena in Jersey) it is...

The setlist was identical in Sheffield, Wembley (all 3 nights) and in Birmingham except that Mona Lisas was performed in Sheffield and then replaced with Ryan Adam's Oh My Sweet Carolina which was magnificant...so, so, so good.  

I think the best performed song may have been Have mercy on the Criminal and for me the Thursday night performance at Wembley was the best...in all regards...

Another thing, the British audiences don't know it but they were privy to hear Songs from the West Coast performed the best yet...and the band is really getting the hang of Wasteland which I adore...

Original Sin was beautiful each night...it just makes you want to fall in love...so beautiful...

Pinball Wizard was great fun particulary the disco like sound effects at the beginning...you just wanted to take off...

Holiday Inn was just fab and indeed, I was staying at the Holiday Inn in Birmingham...oh dear...

Funeral for a Friend was, as always, great. 

Bennie and the Jets was mild in comparison to how I have heard it because it was at the beginning of the show and because the audience I normally hear that song with is half out of their minds by the time it is performed.

Take me to the Pilot was GREAT.  I love the bluesy/soul sound...I really LOVE that sound!  And I swoon when the piano takes off during Rocket ManElton is indeed the Rocketman...How he puts out these shows one after another is a mystery to me. He is remarkable...

American Triangle was beautiful as well as Ballad of the Boy in the Red Shoes...just perfect but I cringe when he goes after the former president (Ronald Reagan) before performing Red Shoes...

In addition to the concerts, I took in the Lion King (plus 2 other theatre shows), the Out the Closet event (I spent £115 ...oh my God), the Versace exhibit which was to die for, saw the Royal Opera House performance on BBC1 and then Sunday morning when I awoke, I turned on the telly and I heard David Frost saying, today we have Elton John...FAROUT! Theresa taped both of these shows for me...BUT I was really fortunate...I must have had an angel looking out for me because I was able to secure a backstage pass for the Birmingham show...how cool is that?  And I met Nigel Olsson. He was so kind, he put me on cloud 9...and I got a photo with the man...so nice, so very, VERY nice.

Regarding getting backstage to the hospitality tent, it is my humble opinion that one must not expect ANYTHING and you will for sure be thrilled. Only 10 people were able to do the actual backstage tour. I was extremely fortunate that my partner for the evening had his number selected and I was able to do the tour. But I very likely may have not been able to do the tour.....and there is no crying in baseball! 

The tour was possibly the highlight of my 9 days in England of almost everything Elton...I got photos of THE piano plus other great photos...and was provided with loads of tidbits regarding the technical aspect of the show...most of which was completely over my head...

I can honestly say that every single person working for Elton is great, shielding of Elton, but great.  They do more for his fans than I have ever heard of. I can't believe I was able to get behind the scenes for such a huge production...that they took the time, not to mention providing a goodie bag and refreshments...it is just unheard of...and so very much appreciated.

Marian earns One Gem for this report

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