Sunday, December 2, 2007

Elton & His Fan's Upset by Hunter Valley Show

The following is taken from a fan's review of Elton's Solo Concert Experience at The Tempus Two Winery on Saturday December 1st in The Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia. I have posted it here to highlight the need for caution at live events and lack of planning that took place.

It seems based on this fan's review that even The Great Man Himself found the aggressive audience and poor control of it to be of enough concern for him to leave the show early.

"My mother and I went to the Saturday night show at Tempus Two. We were really looking forward to as I lucked out and got front row seats! We travelled from the NSW South Coast and had anticipated a great experience, having never been let down by Elton and his crew before.

But it was not to be.

Let me start with us arriving there just after 5pm when the gates were supposed to open. We stood waiting for about 45 minutes as they were still setting up seating! All this time we were constantly asked to move as we were lined up in a parking lot and the cars of people with special packages kept driving in to park. When we did get in the gates we made our way to our seats but were told we could not sit down as they were not ready. This was at 5:45pm. We said "Great, let's go grab something to eat!" Little did we know that a pretty ordinary hamburger (no fries) would set us back $15 each! But, okay, it's all part of the concert experience.

Eran James came on and was quite impressive, given his young age, though the crowd did not seem to engage with him. Being down the front, we did and were rewarded with quite a few lines crooned our way.

I made contact with the head of security and asked if it was okay to run down the front after 'Blue Eyes' and before 'Levon' as it was a Rocket Club tradition. I had a special canvas print of my mother and I sitting at Elton's red piano in Las Vegas and was hoping Elton would sign it. Bob the guard said that was fine. I also spoke to the security guard on our section so she knew why and when we were running up.

Then came the moment we had been waiting for- ELTON! Being HUGE fans we jumped to our feet and prepared to dance, but were told by security to sit down. They were doing this to everyone who even dared to attempt to boogie. I thought this was pretty mean spirited as we wouldn't even have blocked anyone's view, and surely Elton WANTS his fans to enjoy themselves at his shows? Still, we tried to do the right thing and followed all instructions.

The set list was as it has featured on other Australian reviews... until Blue Eyes. As soon as the song finished, we jumped up and ran to the front, where the security guard who we had TOLD we were going to the front sent us back. We'd just reached our seats when we looked around and saw people starting to descend on the stage, so we bolted forward and ended up in front of the piano, but could not see Elton. Still, we were happy.

That is, until a horrid crush of people started pushing in on us. Security lost control of the situation and literally allowed half the crowd to descend upon the tiny space. My 56 year old mum is only little and was almost crushed by the crowd. I had to ask a guard to put her behind him so that she was kept safe, as people were ridulously drunk and aggressive. Many people at the very front had to be rescued by security and hauled up onto the stage as they were in real danger. Elton took one look at the crowd and didn't play 'Levon'. He played a song and I couldn't even tell you what it was as I was so scared of getting crushed. There were girls behind me who kept on pinching, punching and kicking me and my mother as they wanted to get to the front.

Elton then came to the front to sign items. He took one look at our canvas, which Mum had by then, and headed straight for it. He said "Good to see you again "and gave us the thumbs up as he signed it, and we were beside ourselves with happiness. Elton then signed my '60th Birthday concert DVD cover. One of the girls behind me grabbed it out of my hand and threw it to a friend who was behind her. Her friend then moved into the crowd. As you can understand I was devasted as there was no possible way I could even move to try and retrieve it. I said 'Excuse ME?!?" and she said "Well he didn't sign my pass why should YOU get two things signed?" Can you believe it? HOW RUDE!

Elton played about two more songs but as the crowd would not settle and people were still being pulled out of the crowd he ended the show with 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me' and walked off the stage. No encore, no thanks, no bow. I don't know if he was told to get off the stage or if he just left in disgust!

Having been to numerous Elton shows both here in Australia and overseas, I have to say that the behaviour of the crowd disgusted me. Those people who were there for the alcohol ruined the fun for those us us who appreciate Elton as an artist. We were severely short changed of songs by about 45 minutes. I don't for a second blame Elton for stopping the show. I DO blame the poor organisation and lack of security and the iresponsible service of alcohol for this debacle.

My mother showed me her arm this morning and it is covered in bruises that were inflicted by the crowd. (And yes, I have taken a photo.) And darn it, now my 60th birthday DVD is missing a bloody cover!

Don't want to sound like a whiner, I know there will be people who rave about this show but they obviously did not experience the show as we did. It has not for a second dampened our love for Elton or his music, but we will certainly not be returning to shows at Tempus Two any time soon."

Take care out there everyone!


Anonymous said...

I cannot agree more about the fact that Tempus Two failed in it's responsible service of alcohol. I organised a group of ten to attend Sunday nights show. After purchasing food, wine & programmes we found our seats, so far so good! The setting looked amazing & the stage, screens & sound impressive. Unfortunatly there was no announcement that Elton was about to start, so when he did walk onto stage it took the crowd about 3 songs to settle & the general hum of chatter to abate. We were just getting into the mood of the night when the vacant blocks of 3 rows (about 25 people)filed in late carrying copious quantities of alcohol. This group talked, laughed & carried on generally for almost the entire programme as if they were at a private party. When in extreme frustration & after having drinks spilt over me I suggested that the back area might be an appropriate place to talk, one man became agressive & suggested it was his right to do whatever he wanted. Many people in the rows around this group had their entire night spoilt by these people who were so inebriated, they could not have cared where the were, let alone listing to an international artist. I have been to other winery's events which have been wonderful & well organised. By Elton's last two song before 3 encores the group had run out of puff & we were able to hear the concert, although by this time the magic was well & truly gone. I loved it that people got up & danced & he was very good signing many peoples items. On the way out I spoke to people I knew who had had a fantastic night seated in another area, so obviously it depended on who you ended up near. Whilst people always move around for loo breaks etc, others going back to the bar every half hour for yet more refills became very distracting. I realise that a big percentage of Tempus Two's profits would be gained from alcohol sales on the night, but my suggestion would be to close the bar once the concert began. Ringing "bells" to announce the concert is about to begin & then blocking off access untill song breaks would have got the concert off to a much better start. I understand Tempus Two are intenting to become a significant venue for events outside Sydney, however until they address drunkeness & disorderly crowd behaviour they are going to leave a sour taste in many paying patrons mouths. I left feeling really angry & disappointed that some people now days feel that any sort of bad behaviour is acceptable - as seen in the above comment & will be writing to Tempus Two & the promoters with my concerns. Unless things improve I will be taking my money down to Sydney to see events in indoor settings where alcohol sales are restricted to before the show & at intervals.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with these posts as well, my husband, mother in law and myself ended up leaving the concert a little bit early as we were scared that we'd be crushed by all the people. My mother in law has a disability and if she slipped it would have been devastating. We were surrounded by drunk and disorderly people during the concert. As mentioned by others people just talked loudly throughout the concert which spoiled it. I had drunk people two rows behind me and one woman kept standing up and screaming 'gorgeous' 'you're gorgeous elton, can you see me?' she was in her early 50's and drunk off her face and thought she was funny. Her husband keep wolf whistling so loudly that it hurt your ears. I was in utter shock at the amount of drunk people - tempus two should be ashamed of themselves. How they can not be held accountable for this bemuses me. What is the point of an alcohol license and staff having responsible service of alcohol training when this rubbish occurs. How is it legal to sell bottles of wine for $20 yet a hamburger to help slow the alcohol effects is nearly the same price at $15. When we walked out we nearly got knocked over by bare foot 40 year old swinging each other around like little kids. It was so embarrassing. People rushed the stage at the sunday session too which was hardly fair for those who had forked out $500 for premium seats - elton looked hardly impressed.

Tempus Two - you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Anonymous said...

Well we were there Sunday up front in block A2.

We thought it the best 1000 bucks we have ever spent.

True we bused in and bused out and dont know what the top terrace was like during the show but in our area we all had heaps of fun

Can't help but think any-one approaching the stage at a concert is taking a risk ... ?

I was impressed that toilets, drinks and food were all readily accessible.

Elton Fan said...

Based on these comments, it is obvious that there was some intense events which took place at the concerts over the weekend. I have also heard of widespread disorderly behaviour at the concert and one man who was violently thrown against the stage and cracked his jaw. Elton saw this and was very concerned. He stopped the show to ask if he was ok.

Normally there should be no safety concerns at an Elton John concert, however in this case there was.

Certainly, this may have been only in localised areas, but still, events like this should not be taking place at all.

Thanks for all your posts.

40 and Loving It said...

I think this is all a bit exaggerated or miss focused..

Someone had a bad experience with security and a person in the "front of stage pack" during the dying moments of the night?

And this forms the core of their "review"! Come on.

Security "literally" let "half the crowd" into the front of stage area. Ummm. I don't think so!

Then we have someone else loving it - but experience spoilt by a drunk party behind them. Lets see ... it was being held at a WINERY.

Unfortunately c'est la vie - something they actually acknowledge. Tough luck but hardly outrageous anarchy.

Someone is shocked that venue food is a rip....? We eat before and were happy to get $15 prawns as a garnish.

Elton stopped the show on Saturday?

Can't comment as we went Sunday - but when we booked into our hotel I asked about the previous night at reception and was told the last two songs were hit by bad rain - true? Don't know but thats what she said .. much to my concern!

On Sunday night I was in Gold and paid over $300 per ticket but I didn't see "rushing". There may have been a row or two of stage monkeys for the last couple of songs - but by then everybody was up and dancing and waving and "lalalala-ing" to Crocodile Rock.

For the rest of the night I had to get my ticket checked at two different gate locations to get to my seat.

Towards the end, during the signings, I did see a couple of girls get on stage and be led away by security - all very "Dancing in the Dark".

And yes one idiot got his mates to push him up (I think), fell down and hit his head and was led away.

The concert didn't stop - Elton pointed to his own head as if to say "What a drongo" and then later proceeded to tell us how every time he came to Australia it was like coming home. Don't believe it :-) But he didn't have to say it if he was as morose as the article header makes out.

I think the problem here is that the whole atmosphere was more "Elton in the Park" than a concert (especially further up the hill) - and that had the potential for good and bad.

A regulated Entertainment Centre it certainly wasn't.

Overall I thought it money well very well spent. Certainly in my area I would have taken my 10 year old son (but not at $350!).

And no - at two glasses I wasn't a lager lout.

So guys sorry if you had a bad time or it didn't match expectations.

But don't brand the overall experience based on what goes on in the stage side autograph scrum (I mean really common sense would keep me away from that entirely) or by some drunks.

40 and Loving It said...

Re my post. On re-reading I'd like to be clear I am not, in general, disputing the truth or details of previous posts.

And I am truly sorry these people were un-happy with their night.

I am however disputing the overall inference to be drawn from Elton Fan's conclusions: that the event was, overall, dangerous and poorly managed.

The evidence for such a conclusion is not there. Were there arrests? Did the concert actually stop on Saturday? Did Elton express any concern? Was the drinking inconsistent with an event held at a winery? Was there a “rush” to the stage?

My personal opinion based on observation’s from Sunday is “no”. But despite this could individual people or groups have had a bad time? – obviously the answer is “yes” depending on expectation or specific circumstances.