Thursday, July 31, 2008

Elton Signs PNAU & Builds New Recording Studio


ELTON John has proved to be more than a vocal champion for Sydney dance pop duo PNAU, earning his Rocket Man tag by blasting into action and signing the band to the London management company which oversees the superstar.

Sir Elton hasn't been able to stop singing PNAU's praises since actress Toni Collette - who shares an Australian agent with the band - suggested he check them out while on tour here last December.

He bought dozens of copies of their self-titled third album and has since kept in close contact, reports music editor Kathy McCabe.

Back home briefly for the Splendour In The Grass festival this weekend and their own tour next week, Nick Littlemore and Peter Mayes said Sir Elton wasn't personally managing their affairs but has been an invaluable adviser.

"We talk more about art than business and hopefully introducing us to that part of London, artists like Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Sam Taylor-Wood," Littlemore said.

But before they take the London art and music worlds by storm, there have been plenty of home-cooked meals - by Sir Elton's personal chef - and morale-boosting as PNAU start from scratch in a town renowned for sledging Antipodeans with aspirations.

"The first time he called me, the only thing I wanted him to do was play some piano for us and he still hasn't!" Littlemore said.

"His tenacity is something we admire because it's something we have had from day one, always trying to do something new.

"And when we're worried about money and how much it is going to cost to record there, he reminds us we'll be able to use the studio he is building there."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Elton's Private Investment Gig in Paris


Pearl Dubai FZ LLC, a consortium of investors led by Al Fahim Group, rolled out a lavish trip to Paris for 150 investors, offering an exclusive preview of the design and d├ęcor of the Dhs2.5bn Baccarat Hotel and Residences project that will be completed at the Dubai Pearl development in 2011.

Complementing Dubai Pearl's status to offer the best-of-breed projects and quality, the invited guests were additionally treated to a private concert by legendary artist Sir Elton John after the unveiling of the Baccarat Residences

To be developed in association with the US-based Starwood Capital Group, the Baccarat Hotel and Residences at Dubai Pearl will reflect the ingenious handcrafted work of Baccarat, which boasts a lineage of 244 years in fashioning inspired crystal pieces of the highest quality.

Al Fahim added: 'Since 1764, Baccarat has built a reputation of providing elegant luxury products offering unparalleled beauty and flawless brilliance. The Baccarat Hotel and Residences will therefore front a new destination not only in Dubai, but in the Middle East as well.'

The Baccarat Hotel at the Dubai Pearl, located in the signature 73 storey, four tower heart of the project, will envelop over 800,000 square feet of space and be comprised of approximately 340 rooms. The Dhs1bn Baccarat Residences will feature elegantly designed apartments over the 300,000 sq. feet and clients have the option to do their space planning for their apartment if they so desire. Expansive swimming pools, roof gardens, crystal chandeliers and sweeping staircases will define both developments and set them apart as one of the most prestigious addresses in the whole of the Middle East.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Will Elton & Lulu be at the Party in the Park?


LULU has revealed that her "Mystery" Party in the Park guest could be mega-star Elton John.
The Scottish singing sensation told the Express she will be bringing a few friends along to the town’s biggest event – and hinted one of them could be the legendary crooner – "...it could be Elton".

The Eurovision song contest winner will be wowing Maxonians with her booming voice at the festival, which promises to be a gig to Relight Your Fire.

Flying straight into town after sunning herself in France with friend Elton and his partner, David Furnish, the pint-sized popstar suggested the well-loved music man could be her "mystery guest".

But she refused to say for sure.

She said: "I will be flying in from my holiday with Elton and David in France, so it will be like carrying on my holidays in Macclesfield. There will be a few friends appearing with me on stage – it could be Elton. But I’m not going to tell, it’s fun to not say."

Lulu will be preparing herself for a 90-minute musical extravaganza and will be joined by Magic of Motown on stage on Saturday, August 16, at West Park.

But it’s not the first time the musical maestro has visited Silk Town and she is chomping at the bit to get a taste of Maxonian musical madness.

"I have been performing all around for so long so I have been everywhere in the country. I’m looking forward to it because the further north you go the better the audience, and it will be a really fun day for everyone, old and young," said Lulu.
She added: "Hopefully, the weather will be good but it won’t dampen the spirits if it rains. Perhaps I will have to do a dance to the sun gods!"

Rain or shine, fans can brace themselves for some of her favourite chart-topping songs, including Shout and Relight My Fire, but the diminutive diva still has a few tricks up her sleeve.

She said: "When I perform, people usually want to hear certain songs from me and I try and appease them but there will be a few surprises – I just want people to have a good time."

The Saturday concert will open with the Magic of Motown, providing a superb Tamla Motown spectacle, followed by the main act herself.

Orgainsed by Macclesfield Borough Council, the fun continues on Sunday with the West Park Family Fun day, complete with carnival and other attractions

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Elton Rocks Vermont for the 1st Time Ever


One of the most anticipated shows in Vermont history rocked the state on Monday night; Elton John performed to a sellout crowd at the fairgrounds in Essex Junction.

The Rocket Man sent more than 10,000 fans into orbit with his first-ever show in Vermont. But before he hit the state, the flamboyant performer met with reporters and tasted the limited edition Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavor made in his honor, aptly named "Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road."

Sir Elton was glad that the rain stopped and let him play his first Vermont show in full force. "I love America," he said. "I came here in 1970 for my first show in California, and it's taken me, well, 39 years to get to Vermont, but it's worth it and I love this country, and I wanted to play in every single state"

Fans who waited months, if not a lifetime for the show, were not disappointed.

"We were really excited," said Geoff Gadbois of Milton. "He may never come back again, so it was great."

Kate and Jimbo Petraska traveled from Hanover, NH, to see the show. "We just got married last week, so this was really special for us," Kate Petraska said. Elton John even played the couple's favorite song, 'Tiny Dancer.'

Sir Elton John played for over two hours, and certainly gave 10,000 people a rocking Vermont night that they won't forget any time soon.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Canadian Shows Sold Out


Tickets for Elton John’s two shows at Mile One Centre in October sold out in less than an hour after they went on sale noon today.

About 100 people were waiting in line outside Mile One as of 11 a.m., and Sheena McCrate, the centre’s senior manager of sales and marketing, said not all of them were able to get tickets, since they also went on sale online and by phone.

“Not everyone in the lineup was able to get tickets, but anyone who was there for overnight did,” McCrate said.
A fuss broke out in the lineup early this morning, when a group of people reportedly tried to butt in line.

A group of women attempted to solve the problem by using a marker to write a number on everyone’s hand.

“The last time I had to line up like this was at Motor Vehicle Registration in the 70s,” said Elton John fan Gerry Martin of St. John’s, with a smile.

Elton John made his first real impact on the province today, when a flurry of callers trying to buy tickets to his upcoming concert clogged phone lines.

Both Aliant and Rogers telephone services were impacted by what a Rogers representative called intermittent disruptions after the tickets went on sale at noon Friday. The spokeswoman said the problem has been solved and phone lines should be working. She said this was the first time she’d seen enough congestion due to an event to cause a disruption.

Meanwhile, the 911 communications centre in St. John’s was suggesting alternatives to home phones for people in emergency situations, such as mobile telephones, a neighbour’s phone or a pay phone. If none of those are available, people could also physically go to the nearest fire or police station for help.

Elton John fans hoping to buy tickets online for the pop star's two Halifax concerts found themselves hard pressed to do so when they went on sale Friday morning.

Some frustrated fans abandoned their computers and headed for the box office at the Halifax Metro Centre, where John will perform two shows on Sept. 26-27.

The two concerts sold out in about an hour.

One hopeful concert goer waiting outside the box office said a friend had been waiting for more than half an hour at a countdown page to buy her tickets.

Fred MacGillvray, president and CEO of Trade Centre Ltd., insisted the website was working and there were no problems with the Internet ticket-selling system.

He said the thousands of people who tried to buy tickets online created a long queue and had to wait their turn.
"You can't refresh (the page), you can't do anything, you're just stuck there," said Stephanie Perkins who waited in line while her friend searched for tickets at home.

"It's crashing. That's why I ran over here. I wasn't planning to, but I heard there were only 50 people in line."
MacGillvray said he heard complaints that the service was slow, but not that it had crashed.
"We're selling tickets at the moment over the Internet," he said at about 10 a.m.

"There's 23,000 tickets being sold, so you'll get a queue. ... It's just a lot of people requesting tickets at the same time."
John will perform in Atlantic Canada for the first time. Besides the two Halifax shows, he will play Sept. 28 in Moncton, N.B., Sept. 30 in Saint John, N.B., and in St. John's, N.L., on Oct. 2 and Oct. 3.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Elton's Surprise Gig in Germany


Michael Ballack got a big surprise at his dream wedding when pop star Elton John (61) showed up for a surprise performance.

Elton flew in especially for the occasion on a private jet and helicopter to perform for the 200 guests at a yacht club at lake Starnberg near Munich.

"It was my biggest wish, that Elton John would come," says Ballack.

Elton entertained the crowd for almost two hours, playing romantic fan favourites like "Rocket Man" and "Candle in the Wind". The pop legend then topped off the super show by singing a song he had composed especially for Ballack!

Elton John: "Michael, you are my favourite player in the English premier league. You are welcome in my home any time."

The exclusive show was made possible by legendary Hollywood producer Arthur Cohn (who has 6 Oscars under his belt). Arthur Cohn is a good friend of Elton's, who has named his dog "Arthur".

Cohn told BILD: "Reiner Calmund and Ballack's best man Michael Becker wanted to surprise the groom with the concert. Of course I was happy to help. We were lucky that we could keep it a secret for so long!"

A spectacular show of fireworks finished off the perfect wedding night. The spectacle ended with Ballack joining the bridesmaids in a sing-along of the Spice Girls song "Viva Forever". It was the perfect wedding for football superstar Ballack.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Elton John - The Ice Cream Flavour


At Ben & Jerry's, work is just about as fun as work can be, and the same has got to be true for rock stars like Elton John.

So the two got together to churn out "Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road." It's a special limited-batch flavor in honor of Sir Elton's performance next week in Essex Junction. It's the first show he'll give in Vermont, the last of the fifty states to get a visit.

I thought a better ice cream name would've been "Don't Let the Sundae Go Down on Me," but the showman told Ben & Jerry's his favorite flavor combo is peanut butter and chocolate. "Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road" is chocolate ice cream with gobs of peanut butter cookie dough, white chocolate chunks, and pieces of brickle: sugary, butter candy crunch.

Sean Greenwood of Ben & Jerry's explains, "[The flavor is] loaded. You look at 'How can you make a flavor to match up to this guy who's outrageous and just a crazy entertainer?' Well, this is an outrageous, crazy flavor that's loaded up with so many chunks, it's hard to get a spoon through it, actually!"

Ben & Jerry's will sell the treat at Monday's concert and for a short time only at the company's Vermont scoop shops. All the proceeds will go to the Elton John AIDS Foundation. It promotes HIV/AIDS education, and recently has focused new attention on programs in poor communities in the South and the Caribbean, but not necessarily Vermont. Still, local AIDS groups are really pumped about the Rocket Man's visit.

Peter Jacobsen, the executive director of Vermont CARES, says, "Elton John's Foundation has been supporting a lot of national HIV organizations that definitely support the work we do. So we all work in partnership around this chronic disease around the country. This is a great way to support the work we all do together."

The ice cream hits scoop shops this Friday and may only be available for a week. Since it was established 16 years ago, the Elton John AIDS Foundation has raised more than $125 million for global AIDS initiatives.

This sweet duet could help put the freeze on an incurable disease.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Elton Extends Canadian Tour


The rumour that for so long seemed too good to be true really is true, according to information provided exclusively to the Times & Transcript by a representative of Live Nation and Gillett Entertainment Group.

The news, obtained by the newspaper yesterday, was confirmed by Shane Porter, the City of Moncton's co-ordinator of concerts and major events.

If there ever was a concert that better fit the billing of major event, this would be it, an international superstar playing a venue that seats just 7,000 people.

Moncton has, of course, hosted some other international superstars in recent years, beginning with the Rolling Stones in 2005 through to the Eagles performing here on August 2. But both those events have gone to the outdoor Magnetic Hill concert site where there are facilities and space to feasibly hold upwards of 100,000 people.

Sir Elton John in the relatively intimate space of the Coliseum seems sure to create an absolute frenzy when tickets go on sale this Saturday, July 19 at 9 a.m.

Tickets will be available at the Moncton Coliseum box office, you can charge by phone at (506) 857-4100, or buy online at www.monctoncoliseum.com or www.geg.ca. There is a four ticket limit per customer.

The iconic performer is coming to Moncton as part of his first visit to Atlantic Canada in a career that has spanned four decades.

Sir Elton will also play Saint John, Halifax and St. John's, Newfoundland between September 26 and October 3. Tickets for the Harbour Station show in Saint John September 30 will go on sale at the same time Saturday morning. Tickets for the Halifax shows September 26 and 27 as well as the St. John's shows October 2 and 3 are expected to go on sale the next day.

Because each city uses different ticketing networks, websites and phone numbers to get tickets will be different for each venue.

Jillian Somers, spokeswoman for the City of Moncton's department of Recreation, Parks, Tourism and Culture, said the city and promoters were working to ensure there be as many seats available as possible at the Moncton Coliseum. "We're selling a 360 degree bowl. We obviously anticipate huge demand."

Somers said the news was great both for Moncton and the entire region.

In Metro specifically, "2008 for us has been a record year for the calibre of the artists, not to mention the sheer volume of artists too. It drives home the fact we've proved we're a fantastic place to hold major music events."

Noting the Eagles and Sir Elton will play here less than two months apart, she said, "having legends like that back to back is just the cherry on top," of an already record year.

Elton John has sold more than 200 million records, has had 29 consecutive Top 40 hits, 35 gold and 25 platinum albums.

His recent touring has focused on smaller cities and smaller venues where he has never performed before. This scheduled Atlantic Canadian tour is in support of his album, Rocket Man: Number Ones.

Released in 2007, it features newly compiled and digitally mastered greatest hits spanning the first three decades of the singer/songwriter's career. He had the biggest selling single of all time in 1997 with Candle in the Wind, which sold 33 million copies.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Elton Touring with Billy Joel in 2009?


The latest addition to the 2009 rumor mill may have some fans in a state of shock.

At a recent concert in Konstanz, Germany, Sir Elton revealed plans to tour alongside Billy Joel in 2009.

Asked by fans during a signing at the concert "will you be touring Germany solo next year?", Elton responded "I'll be touring with Billy next year".

According to Elton this tour will definitely include Europe. However, some speculation has been raised at the integrity and feasibility of this claim.

Could Billy refer to Billy Elliot - the musical or Billy Joel - the American piano legend. He may simply be performing solo concerts around Europe to assist with the promotion of Billy Elliot the musical as he did in Australia. There have been no reports of Billy Elliot the musical touring through Europe.

Furthermore, Elton is widely known to be somewhat indecisive. He has said many times how he wishes to stop touring and to stop recording albums - none of which has eventuated. Can we take this rumor to be the truth?

In addition how can we be assured that Billy Joel wants to engage in widespread touring again? He does not hit the road as much as Elton does.

From a cynical perspective - perhaps Elton and Billy would prefer to tour separately, in this format they do not have to divide the show profits in half.

What is known though, is the Red Piano shows in Las Vegas are expected to end in April 2009, leaving a gap in Elton's touring schedule. Further, Elton and Billy are close friends, they have toured in the past for the Face to Face World Tour - a smash hit touring production and perhaps they are both looking for a live experience that is a little more unique.

Will Elton engage in a Face to Face tour again?, will he extend his Red Piano tour internationally?, will he continue to perform in Las Vegas - maybe with a new show?, will he work on a new album? or simply continue his greatest hits roadshow?.

Time will soon tell.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Elton Suing UK Newspaper for Defacement


Sir Elton John is used to being lampooned by comics around the globe, but his sense of humour only seems to extend so far.

Lawyers acting for the colourful singer have fired off an angry letter to The Guardian to complain about a spoof item that appeared in its Saturday magazine, part of a series titled, "A Peek at the Diary Of... ", with Elton the object of the writer's satire.

Among other things, the article poked fun at Elton'sannual White Tie and Tiara Ball, which took place at his home in Windsor a fortnight ago. Elton is upset that the article implied that the overheads required to put on the bash, which raises funds for the Elton John Aids Foundation, were excessive.

"Naturally, everyone could afford just to hand over the money if they gave that much of a toss about Aids research – as could the sponsors," it read. "But we like to give guests a preposterously lavish evening, because they're the kind of people who wouldn't turn up for anything less... Once we've subtracted all these costs, the leftovers go to my foundation. I call this care-o-nomics."

Sources close to the singer describe the piece as "unpleasant". It's not the first time he's locked horns with the press over the party. In 2006, he successfully sued the Daily Mail over claims that he'd ordered guests at the party in 2005 not to approach him.

Meanwhile, The Guardian confirmed that it had received a lawyers' letter, and was now deciding how to respond.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How To Stage an Elton Concert at Doncaster


ONE of the world's biggest stars will touch down in Doncaster for a spectacular concert in just six days' time. Sir Elton John is flying in to perform in our very own Keepmoat Stadium, which, for one night only will be transformed into a venue fit for a world-class pop concert.
Fans will be arriving from far and wide to see Elton in his first-ever show in Doncaster, with the hope of witnessing a greatest hits set which will become part of the town's history.

Slotted in the middle of a long string of shows in Las Vegas, Sir Elton will visit Doncaster as part of a small stadium tour which promises to excite and thrill fans old and new.

It's not the first time the Keepmoat has welcomed star names. Last July Ronan Keating performed with boy band McFly before fans gathered to see Bryan Adams with local legend John Parr.

The weather was unkind, but thousands attended in the pouring rain to watch the first live music event at the open air venue.

However the big concert is the culmination of months' of preparation and the moment when everyone can sit back and enjoy the show.

Hundreds of people are hard at work to make this year's event possible - and keeping their fingers crossed that the weather will be better - so here's a closer look at some of the people who make the event tick . . .

The promoters

WHILE many believe the Keepmoat Stadium is responsible for bringing the star to Doncaster, it is very much promoters Marshall Arts who is running the show. After organising Paul McCartney's recent Liverpool and Kiev concerts the company are in charge of making sure everything goes smoothly on the day.

With a crew of over 250 people, the promoters will be working seven days before the concert to put everything in place before the big man arrives.

Ben Martin, from Marshall Arts, said: "As the promoters of the show we find the venue on behalf of the artist, we then talk to the artist and talk to the venue, we set the ticket price, we put the adverts in the paper and talk to the local council. We also provide all the security, the stewards and the catering."

Aside from this they also ensure Elton's crew are happy and settled as well as that the stadium is ready for the concert. Over the course of a very busy seven days they build the stage, lay the flooring, and add the seats.

They also bring in technicians to fit the lighting and check that the sound is perfect. But above everything they have to make the star is comfortable.

The promoters need to be up to speed with Elton's touring preferences and make sure everything is ready for the stars' visit on the day.

Unlike the crew, Elton has concerts before and after July 12 so his visit to Doncaster is very brief.

Ben said: "Well if you imagine we have all these people behind the stage, it's like a little village but then you also have the people seated having a drink, and the people having meals.

"We have certain expectations. He has his own crew of 40 people but then we get everything in place and we need to make sure everything is sorted for his staff and crew. There are eight trucks in total so it's on quite a large scale."

The stadium

NO one could be looking forward to this concert more than Keepmoat director Shane Chalmers. He's been preparing for the big event for the past nine months and going to every length to make sure it runs smoothly.

Shane said: "The main difference between this concert and last year's is we have moved the stage from the south stand to the north of the stadium. We have also had to create a door which goes from the west stand to the north because there wasn't a direct doorway to the stand.

We had to change the dressing rooms into the artist dressing room and we have knocked through a breeze block wall."

While the usual Doncaster Rovers match takes two days of preparation, Keepmoat has been working for months to ensure they abide by every health and safety regulation. At the moment there is a suggestion Elton will arrive by helicopter though he may also travel by car to the venue. Either way it appears Shane won't rest until the concert is over.

"It is always strange for us because we spend nine months working towards this show and there is a whole range of things to go on and it'll be great on set-up day," he said. "It's not until two or three days after the concert that you realise what has just happened, and we cannot believe it. If someone had said two years ago that we would have Elton John in the stadium I would have never believed you."

The fans

THERE must be a lot of Elton fans in Doncaster as the promoters report more than 60 per cent of sales are to locals. One of the people sitting in the crowd will be devoted Elton fan Nick Hall. Having snapped up his tickets within seconds from the official Elton John website he will be watching from the best seats to see his hero in his hometown. Having seen the 'rocket man' over ten times and bidded for countless items of signed merchandise on eBay, he still can't believe Elton's coming to Doncaster.

Nick, 47, who used to live in Thorne Road but now lives in Pontefract, said: "Not in a million years would I believe Elton would come to Doncaster, mainly because before the Keepmoat there wasn't anywhere to put a concert. I think the people of Doncaster should be thrilled because it is such a fantastic show."

Nick admits not all his friends are on board with his Elton appreciation but insists that you don't have to be a fan to love the show.

He said: "I know people who have been dragged to a concert but they always come out loving it."

Perth Review


Sir Elton spent more than two hours delighting the audience as he took to the stage for the only Scottish date on his Rocket Man 2008 tour.
A huge amount of organisation and effort also went in to ensuring the event ran like clockwork.

Any fears of traffic chaos soon proved unfounded as a massive crowd control operation swung into action.

Through the work of the club, Tayside Police, Perth and Kinross Council, and with the assistance of a number of businesses and organisations around the city, parking was found for the 16,000 who attended the gig.

Diversions were put in place, traffic schedules altered and shuttle buses in operation, all leading to the gig going off with a minimum of fuss and disruption.

St Johnstone’s managing director Stewart Duff admitted he had been delighted by the concert’s success after years chasing a top act for Perth.

“The evening went wonderfully well,” he said.

“A great deal of hard work and preparation went into successfully staging the event.

“I have to pay tribute to the many officers within Perth and Kinross Council and Tayside Police — and in particular Inspector Ken Brown — who have all made a major contribution to a great evening.

“We welcomed 16,000 people and the stadium was absolutely rocking thanks to a great performance by Sir Elton John.

“This was the very first pop concert that we have staged here at McDiarmid Park.

“I have tried for years to get promoters to bring a top level act here.

“And I am absolutely delighted that act was someone of the stature of Sir Elton.

“I am hopeful that other promoters might now look at Perth and McDiarmid Park in the future for their top artists.

“That is certainly something we would welcome.

“Of course, such an event is also of major financial benefit to Perth, because it brings thousands into the town to spend money.”

Today the stage was being stripped down and the temporary flooring laid over the pitch removed.

And St Johnstone believe the ground will be back to normal by tomorrow.

Mr Duff added, “I’m sure our groundsman will be keeping a close eye on the pitch as the flooring is lifted.

“However, we’ve no reason to believe it will have been damaged in any way.”

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Elton at Darlington


JUST when you thought Elton was going to have to change song titles to Soggy Seems To Be The Hardest Word or Don't Let The Rain Go Down On Me the downpours stopped and Darlington's arena enjoyed a cool but enjoyable Knight of history.

There was no sign of the Rocket Man turning into a damp squib as Sir Elton arrived on stage, roared on by 16,000 onlookers, to finally put the venue on the musical map.

The familiar gingery spiked hair was accompanied by a sombre black tail-coated suit embroidered with musical notes plus the words Music Magic emblazoned on his back.

He didn't disappoint. The man is magic, The giant gold crucifix around his neck seemed perfect to bedeck the opening number of Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding. And the uproar that greeted the end of the first number brought the dynamic 61-year-old up into arm-gesturing action as one gold-shoed foot hit the piano stool and the other whacked down on top of the trusty Yamaha at his disposal for the night.

With The Bitch Is Back grabbing our attention, he established his reason for selecting Darlington as the start of his 2008 Rocket Man Tour. "Good Evening Darlington. I'd been to the old one (Feethams) but I never thought I'd be playing in a stadium like this in Darlington... so congratulations," said Watford FC's life president, who dates back to 1987 when his beloved Hornets walloped Darlington 11-0 in a two-leg league cup clash.

Earlier there were signs that Elton would have to make sure Sad Songs was played to a certain section of the ground. People who had paid 75 smackers for the best seats had found they weren't in the blue- seated area covering the football club's hallowed turf.

Instead they were in the stadium seats contemplating a stiff neck from watching Elton side-on just like the £60 payers. "Several people have complained. They're not happy," said a stadium staff member.

Unaware of the seating snarls, Elton ploughed on with a concert mostly garnered from his 1970s heyday with just three tracks appearing to come from the 80s and a measly one, Believe (1995) selected from his massive collection of songs which has seen him sell 250 million records worldwide.

A few of his selections taken from the Madman Across The Water album were for dedicated Elton fans only, but soon the superb showman swung into the crowdpleasers like Yellow Brick Road, Daniel, Rocket Man, Honky Cat, Sacrifice and Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Med.

Introductions for backing band John Mahon, Guy Babylon, Bob Birch, Sunderland's Nigel Olsson and Davey Johnstone followed.

The sound, by now, was soaring out towards Neasham as the East Stand End stage, with its two giant video screens, had the crowd applauding, cheering and proving that the venue could cope with such a large attendance.

"This''ll be the biggest crowd the stadium is ever going to see,"

declared one wag to me.

I certainly hope not for Darlington's sake. Sitting next to me was, possibly, the youngest concert-goer of the night. Two-and-half-year -old Lucy Chandler from Scorton.

Sadly, long before Elton swung into a crowd-roaring finale which featured Bennie And The Jets, Are You Ready For Love, I'm Still Standing, Crocodile Rock and Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting young Lucy was asleep on her dad's lap.

The finale of Pinball Wizard and Your Song, which Elton has been using as an opener on previous tours, ensured that everyone appeared to go home happy.

Just remember Elton, Lucy will be expecting you back when she's only enough to bop with a little Crocodile Rock.... Watford might even be in the same league as Darlington by that time.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Elton Returning To Swansea Next Summer


He's famous for his crazy costumes and flamboyant dress sense, but the latest addition to Elton John's wardrobe has a real Swansea connection.

When the Rocket Man touched own in the city at the weekend for his Liberty Stadium gig he took away a special memento - four Swans football shirts with the name Elton and the number 29, the date of the concert, on the back.

Around 25,000 fans packed the stadium for Sunday's show, and the singer is understood to be close to agreeing to a return gig in the city next year, though no date has been set.

Meanwhile, a number of other big- name musical acts are thought to be waiting to follow in Sir Elton's footsteps at the Liberty.

Swansea City director David Morgan said: "Sir Elton is a real football man, and he used to come down to the Vetch as chairman of Watford FC.

"It is great for the city - and for the whole region - that he came back to play a concert at the Liberty.

"He used the home changing room before the show, and the band used the away room.

"He congratulated the Swans on promotion and complimented the city on its new stadium."

Sir Elton wowed the crowd with hits including Daniel, Crocodile Rock and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in his only Welsh gig this year.

Support was provided by Coronation Street star turned singer Richard Fleeshman, and The Storys.

Bosses at the stadium are staying tight-lipped about future concerts, but it is thought negotiations are underway involving a number of "very big names", though no details have been released.

Mr Morgan added: "The concert was such a success. Everyone involved deserves a pat on the back.

"At the end of the show when he was signing autographs the crowd started singing hymns and arias and Sir Elton looked really touched. I hope concerts at the Liberty will become a regular thing."

Andrew Davies, general manager of Swansea Stadium Management Company, said: "Sunday night was a fantastic success for the Liberty Stadium and for Swansea.

"We are now looking to see how we can build on this, and we are hopeful of bringing more artists of a similar stature to Swansea next summer.

"The benefits to Swansea are very clear, and the city is now firmly on the map as a leading music venue."