Saturday, February 2, 2008

Elton's Canary Islands Concert - "Very Poor"



The jury is very much out on whether the much-anticipated event at Golf Costa Adeje was an outstanding success or over-shadowed by a series of unfortunate hiccups.
Some say it was absolutely fantastic, others thought it was a shambles and many more fall somewhere between the two verdicts. Yes, it was good but with an artist of the stature of Sir Elton, shouldn’t we be saying it was out of this world?

Suggest to any Elton John afficianado that the concert might not have lived up to expectations and you will get an angry response.
“He is a genius,” one fan told me. “He doesn’t need gimmicks. His voice and his musicianship says it all.”

An international icon he may well be but it’s hard to argue against some of the problems of the evening which attracted an estimated 16,000 people.
Due to the lack of ticket handlers at the gates, there were still long queues 20 minutes after the concert had started. Some were even locked out. When they did get in, there was a nasty shock for quite a few who had paid 120 euros for a VIP seat. There was no room for them and they had to stand.

“We couldn’t see him at all,” said one disappointed fan. “We might as well have sat in a park listening to one of his CDs.”

The problem arose because those who had paid only to stand saw empty seats well into the concert and sat there themselves, especially as no-one was checking their tickets. Some of the affected have accepted the situation, others are talking about legal action to get their 120 euros back.
Traffic jams were also horrendous because of the road closures and the walk up and down the steep hill was no fun, particularly for the elderly as all ages went to the concert. The site was also very dark and very dangerous in places because of sheer drops which were not roped off. The portable toilets had no lights and no paper and a beer cost five euros.

There were no sign posts or direction signs and the buses provided by Titsa stopped somewhere......but where? And where were the fireworks which lit up the skies of Abu Dhabi only two nights before or at least a more spectacular laser show? After all, this is a huge star we are talking about who should demand a big budget.

Was there also a special area for the disabled? I spotted one lady in a wheelchair crammed up against the loos and totally unable to see the stage. Unlike the people above her, she wasn’t able to clamber on to the top of them to gain a perfect, if unconventional, vantage point.
It’s hardly surprising that many people came away from the concert with a bitter taste in their mouth and a hole in their pocket.

Let’s not ignore the plus points, however. The location was potentially superb and it was incredible to watch the moon rise over the mountains of Adeje and the twinkling lights beyond. It was a natural amphitheatre and the acoustics were superb, with the sound quality second to none. A live Elton sounds exactly as he does on record which, in an age of manufactured groups, is so rare.
He was also on stage for two and a half hours without a support act and was a master of the piano. And he’s still got plenty of stamina for a 60 year old!

Some people I spoke to felt the concert fell a bit flat because he started off with less well-known songs. It wasn’t until later that hits such as Crocodile Rock, I’m Still Standing, Circle of Life, Nikita, I Want Love and Daniel got us all in the mood as we all still remember the words. Only then did people start to sing along, sway and dance.

And was Elton rather subdued on the night? Admittedly, he was polite and complimentary, describing the audience as “the best ever” and wishing everyone health and happiness on this, his first ever concert with his band in Tenerife and Spain. But there were only a few of his famous high kicks and he seemed to be having more of a party with his band members than with the audience. There was only one short encore and few, if any, autographs were signed.

Feeling rather let-down myself, I sent text messages to friends to get their reaction. “Great concert, hit after hit, but some problems outside,” said one. “Nobody to direct people to the gates, no signs and no order in the queues. No lights in the arena and only two people trying to check tickets.”
Another said: “We thought it was very good. Organisation on the gates could have been better. No-one seemed to know where to go.”

And a third concluded: “Enjoyed the show. Didn’t enjoy the walk back up the hill to the motorway afterwards!”

Website comments also differ enormously. “Definitely the ultimate showman. A chance in a lifetime,” said one holidaymaker. “A fantastic professional artist,” said another. “Unbelievable but it was a shame about the lack of organisation.”

“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” said another.”But organisers need to address a few things. Admission took ages and proper signing would have been helpful.”

The majority of the audience was apparently Spanish and whole groups of friends travelled from all parts of the mainland. Barcelona was the starting point for one party who carried a banner all the way and swore that Elton caught their eye on at least two occasions. Another said it was the fault of the lay-out that their hero was unable to sign autographs.

One fan pulled no punches about the way forward, writing: “It’s a shame about the organisation as a lot of people were not in when it started. The Tenerife-based company who organised it should make a big apology to Sir Elton and all his fans as bad reviews are over-shadowing an incredible night.” Certainly, national papers concentrated more on the problems than on the concert which wasn’t exactly the publicity Tenerife was looking for as it strives to become a popular location for big entertainment events.

Whatever your stance, it’s obvious that the Elton John debate is going to rumble on for some time yet. Let’s hope that lessons will be learned from any mistakes and that the next time a big star comes to our island - and more concerts would definitely be welcomed - things will run just a little bit more smoothly.

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