Friday, December 7, 2007

Elton Honored With Maori Cloak

While Sir Elton was in the country for only a few hours, he bought several pieces of art during his visit.

Many artworks graced the dressing room where Sir Elton spent his time before hitting the stage at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands on Thursday night.

Just what he did buy is being kept under wraps for now and we may never know what he chose, with artists - both local and national - who displayed their art having to sign a confidentiality agreement.

It's likely there are Taranaki works among his haul.

"Yes he bought quite a bit of art," said concert promoter Phil Sprey yesterday.

Upstairs at the venue the elegantly decorated dressing room was said to be Sir Elton's favourite space. Apparently he even added some of his own personal items for a touch of home.

As a well-known fan of fresh flowers, there were plenty of blooms for him to enjoy.

"He loved the venue," Mr Sprey said.

"It's a credit to the council what they have done there and the backstage dressing rooms are superb. Obviously he spends a lot of time in dressing rooms on tour and what they have done here is exceptional."

One thing they might be missing though is a toilet seat from the throne the star used. Apparently his "people" feared it might end up for sale on the Internet.

Mr Sprey also thanked the Taranaki Daily News for great coverage and photos and had fielded plenty of positive feedback.

As well as his New Zealand art Sir Elton has a specially made feather korowai (cloak) to take home. The cloak was presented to him on stage before his encore by Ngati Te Whiti hapu chairman Peter Love.

Donning the cloak, Sir Elton clearly appreciated the extra warmth.

"I could have done with this hours ago. Never in 38 years of performing have I been so cold. What a great honour," Sir Elton said before launching into the encore.

Mr Sprey said it was surprise to see Sir Elton keep the cloak on as he performed.

"Initially, it was going to be presented to him and then he would take it off before returning to his piano stool because it was very heavy. But he was so enthusiastic he whispered as he went by `I'm keeping this on'."

The crowd clearly appreciated Sir Elton's final words before his last song.

"I've loved coming here, it's beautiful. Thank you for your loyalty, your love and wonderful warmth."

After his concert Sir Elton flew straight from New Plymouth to Sydney. Tonight he performs in Tasmania.

Yesterday Mr Love said the presentation of the korowai was significant and rarely done.

"It's the Maori equivalent to an academy award and the inclusion of Sir Elton John as an honoured member of Ngati Te Whiti," Mr Love said.

Before the concert two fans who travelled from the United States for the show got to meet Sir Elton.

Arkansas mother Cathy Dilbeck and daughter Madison Thorneberry won a radio competition to see the New Plymouth concert and meet the star. The pair were thrilled with their meeting and an obliging Sir Elton wore the red plastic hog-shaped hat they presented to him.

The hat is a mascot for the Arkansas Razorbacks football team.

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