On the 31st May 2015, the traffic along the A249 at Detling in Kent was unusually busy for a Sunday night. The warning signs had been out for weeks but still some motorists – who had no intention of standing in a field for 6 hours in the rain, cloud, sunshine and cold – decided to chance their luck and instead of using a different route – joined the long and winding queue with those who only aim was to get cold and and slightly wait – whilst watching Elton John.
The thing about Elton is it’s all about the music. Maybe the difference between a musician and someone who does a radio programme is that I wanted more from the bits in between the music. I wanted him to gossip, to charm and to smarm. But true to form – he performed. He was joined by his band whom he has been with for many many years. One got the impression that there wasn’t so much as a VIP area backstage but an OAP area. However, if ever there was an advert for old guys showing the youngsters that they’ve still got it and age is only a number – it was watching these honed musicians play, entertain and have fun.
Elton himself commented a few times about how cold he felt – and he had two heaters blowing hot air directly at him – a job, I assumed usually reserved for his PR team or keepers of the stool.
His set started off with a few songs from his best selling 1973 album Goodbye yellow brick road. It was 50/50 whether he would go in hard and fast or slow and build. He went slow and built. And actually – by the end of the performance it seemed to work as the security allowed revellers to dance in the bear pit (which had been shut off).
Elton himself rose between songs and did the occasional walkabout – although one got the impression he would suffer for it all the following morning. He belted out a number of classics including ‘Believe’ and ‘I’m Still Standing’ – but then there are just so many that he could do – I got the feeling that this particular set is more personal to him. On my radio show I sometimes do a tribute too – in which we play interviews and music from the lives of various musicians. I remember him and Bernie Taupin talking about how “Tiny Dancer” came about – and I wondered if he was recalling specific memories about the writing process when he was singing – but then, he was probably just thinking “it’s bloody cold here” and “how long until i jump into the helicopter and get myself home?”
I’m glad I saw Elton. I see him as one of the last in a line of true great performers – the likes of whom we may struggle to replace (Madonna, Paul McCartney, Billy Joel – just to name a few). Who will replace them? Beyonce? Robbie Williams? Maybe – but I don’t think they will in my mind.
So, if you get the chance and you are an Elton John fan – I’d say – it really is worth a visit.