Friday, March 27, 2009

Elton's Favorite Artists at the Moment


In honor of Sir Elton John’s 62nd birthday Wednesday, we opted to celebrate by assembling a new edition of EJ the DJ for Buzz readers.

So what exactly is EJ the DJ?

Well, whenever we have a conversation with the Peachtree Road resident, we ask John, arguably the world’s biggest music fan, to let us in on what he’s currently listening to.

We essentially snatched the idea from the pop star’s decades-long tradition of popping by radio stations here and across the pond to spin his favorite new artists.

As usual, John delivered a diverse batch of tunes and artists, a few of which can’t be instantly obtained in the U.S., even if a multitude of record shops still existed.

First up, Sir Elton is hooked on the single “Walking on a Dream” from Australia duo Empire of the Sun. The MGMT-esque pop pairing is a collaboration between The Sleepy Jackson’s Luke Steele and Pnau frontman Nick Littlemore. The single and remixes can currently be downloaded off iTunes. Empire’s full debut album is due stateside April 21.

“They’ve got a terrific sense of melody,” John told us. “I was just listening to it again this morning.”

Forever a supporter of live music, John — currently on tour with Billy Joel — won’t get to catch two of his current fave acts in Atlanta. He had to miss Grammy-winning phenom Adele’s St. Patrick’s Day gig at Variety Playhouse (he was an early supporter). He’s also working when singer-songwriter James Morrison gigs April 27 at The Loft in Midtown.

The singer has been keeping a watch on Morrison’s latest single, “Broken Strings,” a duet with Nelly Furtado.

“It’s a brilliant song,” said John. “I just hope it does a bit better on the charts over here. I like him a lot.”

The biggest curve ball Sir Elton tossed us?

He’s loving “Hurricane,” the crazy good new Grace Jones album. The main problem? It’s not yet available on these shores or on iTunes for that matter. Amazon.com is stocking imported copies, however.

“It’s a shame more people in the U.S. haven’t heard it,” John said. “I love it, and [the song] ‘Williams’ Blood’ is [expletive] amazing. She sounds great. It’s a great return for her. You have to hear it!”

Elton Coming to Salt Lake City & Lisbon


SALT LAKE CITY -- Probably two of the most famous musicians around, Billy Joel and Elton John, are going to reunite for their so-called "Face 2 Face" tour. Concert promoters announced Wednesday that the two will perform at EnergySolutions Arena November 20.

They had so much fun on their previous tours together, Billy Joel and Elton John have decided to do it again. This will be their second visit to Salt Lake; they were here previously in January 2001.

"This is a big show. This show is selling out everywhere," said Jim McNeil, president of United Concerts.

To have two superstars on the same stage is rare, but for long-time fans of these two "Piano Men" the chance to see them perform each other's tunes and play with each other's backing band mates is a special musical event.

"It's an amazing show, having the two of them on stage together and the number of hits between the two of them. I don't know any two artists that would have that many hits," McNeil said.

Billy and Elton first went on tour together in 1994. It was such a popular show they did it again in 2001 and 2003. Look for this tour to extend well into next year.

McNeil says the show is popular because the songs are classic and still as good to listen to today as they were two decades ago. He says the energy between Billy Joel and Elton John during their performances is high.

"I think they love to perform. That's what they do. They're entertainers, they're on stage, they're both consummate live performers. In this case, one plus one equals three," McNeil said.

---

British pop legend Sir Elton John is to perform in Lisbon on June 27th, at the Restelo stadium.
His upcoming performance was confirmed this week by show producers Espelho de Cultura.

Now aged 62 the acclaimed artist, whose career spans decades, will be accompanied by his band in what will be his first since the controversy-embroiled quasi performance in Portugal in September 2000.

Elton John’s last ill-fated performance in Portugal that year was held at the Estoril Casino and saw the performer walk off the stage without explanation or apparent reason. He had allegedly complained of smoke in the Casino’s ‘Black & Silver’ room, where he was about to sing.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Elton's Birthday Cake


Karen Portaleo, the brilliant cake artist at Highland Bakery Atlanta GA, fabricated this frosted dog in drag for Elton John’s birthday, which is today.

The cake is modeled on his beloved pet dog Arthur.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Face to Face Concerts Added in California Bay Area


Sir Elton John & Billy Joel will headline a pair of Face 2 Face concerts in the California Bay region.

November 14, 2009 - Oakland CA, Oracle Arena

November 17, 2009 - San Jose CA, HP Pavilion

Tickets are available from March 30th via Ticketmaster.com

Elton's Surprise Moscow Gig


A private banquet in Moscow at the Stanislavsky & Nemirovich-Danchenko theatre made Elton John's wallet several times heavier. For an hour's performance at Marianna Sardarova's party who is the wife of the famous Russian oil merchant, the English musician was paid a million dollars.

John, 61, arrived to Moscow on Thursday morning (March 12) accompanied by his beloved husband David Furnish, at the Ararat Park Hyatt Hotel.

Elton made an exception for Sardarova's party - he played the piano which was provided by the promoters of the party. The singer usually brings his own musical instrument.

Sir Elton immediately departed after the event destined for Face 2 Face concerts in the United States with Billy Joel.

"Elton" The Ballet Coming Soon


Alberta Ballet is creating a production based on the music of Elton John.

"We've put together an extraordinary team of designers to give birth to this world premiere that I think will attract the attention of the world," says Jean Grand-Maitre, the artistic director for Alberta Ballet.

Talk about the project began when John was performing in Calgary last fall.

He was so impressed with Alberta Ballet's production based on Joni Mitchell's music that he wanted a show of his own.

So just before his performance, at the Saddledome, he summoned members of the ballet to his dressing room.

"He was so nice and, I mean, it was before a show...he was so calm and just took as much time as you wanted and it was quite the experience," says Kelley McKinlay a dancer with the ballet.

Ballet officials say the announcement couldn't come at a better time.

While many in the entertainment industry struggle to fill seats, Alberta Ballet hopes the Elton production will attract a whole new audience.

"All I can say is this is the best recession proofing we can do. If we can't do it with the music of Sir Elton John then I'm not sure what we can do," says Darryl Lindenbach the executive director of Alberta Ballet.

Elton John is expected to visit Calgary several times while the show is in production.

Elton, the ballet, will debut in Calgary in May of 2010.

F2F Date Added in Albany


Elton John and Billy Joel will perform with their bands, alone and together, at the Times Union Center in Albany July 27.

John and Joel open the concert with a series of duets, playing twin pianos and trading vocals. Each artist then performs a set with his own band. A finale brings the two superstars and their supporting musicians back together for a closing encore.

Joel's long-time guitarist, Tommy Byrnes, lives in Millbrook.

Tickets cost $177, $97 and $51.50; go on sale at 10 a.m. March 28; and will be available at www.tickets.com, www.timesunion.com, by calling 800-30-EVENT, at select Price Chopper outlets, and at the Times Union Center box office.

Face 2 Face Coming to Buffalo


Expect the Arena to be a rockin’ this summer. Long-time hit makers Billy Joel and Elton John are hitting the road and planning a July 24 show at HSBC Arena, 1 Seymour H. Knox III Plaza.

Tickets for the Face 2 Face tour stop go on sale at Saturday.

Joel and John open the concert with a series of duets, playing twin pianos and trading vocals. Each artist then performs a set with his own band. A grand finale brings the two stars and their supporting musicians back together for a closing encore. This includes some of both Billy and Elton’s greatest hits along with an unpredictable selection of rock and roll classics.

This is the duo’s second performance together at HSBC Arena. Previously they had performed to a sold out crowd on March 9, 2003.

Elton to Perform at Vicarage Road


Sir Elton John is Watford’s Honorary Life President again and is hopeful of staging another concert at Vicarage Road next year to benefit the Hornets.

The rock star, who has turned 62 today, resigned the post in November in protest at the direction the club was taking under the previous Graham Simpson/Mark Ashton regime, but has now decided to resume his official connection with the club.

In a statement, the former two-time chairman said: “Watford Football Club is in my blood. Wherever I am in the world I cannot resist keeping up with the news about Watford. Despite the terrible luck of penalties going against us deep into added time recently, I am encouraged to know the team has been playing better.

“I wish the new chairman and the board, the manager, the team and all Watford’s loyal supporters a very successful conclusion to the season and I hope that in the summer next year we shall all be able to come together for another concert to benefit the club.”

Sir Elton last staged a concert at Vicarage Road in June 2005 which raised around £1.3m for the Buy Back the Vic campaign, although he stunned senior management at the club by announcing that the proceeds should be used “to help bring in new players” for then manager Ray Lewington.

Sir Elton to Duet with Brandi Carlile


Brandi Carlile’s story is a celebration of human imperfection.

The 27-year-old folk rocker, who will bring her alternately rowdy and mellow tunes to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Saturday night, prefers to record “live to tape” when she’s in the studio, meaning her bandmates all play at once, instead of individually, in order to gel as a unit—even if it means the recordings aren’t as crisp.

She leaves in all of the vocal scoops, audible aspirations and hitches in her voice when she’s screaming on raucous tracks that other musicians would excise with fancy editing equipment, because those tiny glitches (Ms. Carlile might prefer “natural sounds”) lend her final tracks an immediacy and authenticity that underscore her lyrics of imperfect love and time’s inexorable march.

It might be technically flawed, but it’s emotionally honest.

“The sound is more classic. It’s like the music I grew up listening to,” she said in a telephone interview last week, naming bluegrass and country music records her parents used to play around her childhood home in Ravensdale, Washington, about 30 miles from Seattle. The method, she said, “makes you accept your imperfections.”

Whatever musical imperfections Ms. Carlile might have, they sound a lot like assets in the context of her earthy ballads that ring with rootsiness. And Ms. Carlile, who has unfussy chestnut hair and a slight gap between her front teeth, isn’t the only one who thinks so.

In 2005, prior to the release of her debut album, Rolling Stone named her one of the year’s top artists to watch, and two years later her second album, “The Story” (released by Sony), reached the top 50 on the Billboard chart within two weeks of its release and her songs received more than 1 million plays on her Myspace page within a month — despite the fact that her melodies aren’t tailored for radio play.

Her “imperfections” have led to performances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “The Late Show with Conan O’Brien,” and an international tour kicking off this week that includes the East End and winds around to Portugal and Norway.

She’s currently working on her long-awaited third album, which she says should be out this summer. One of her idols, Elton John, has agreed to collaborate on one track, and Ms. Carlile said they just have to hammer out a time to get into the studio together.

Happy Birthday Elton!


Sir Elton turns 62 on March 25th. He will be celebrating with a day off in Los Angeles, CA. From all the visitors to Elton John News - have a fabulous birthday.

Thank you for all the love you bring into the world.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Write a Play - Have it Produced by Elton's Team


Fidelity FutureStage®, the producers of Billy Elliot the Musical, and Elton John invite you to write a 10-minute one-act play reflecting one of the themes of Billy Elliot: fulfilling a dream, discovering a talent, or overcoming adversity. The winning script will be produced at New York's Imperial Theatre by the creative forces behind Billy Elliot the Musical.

The contest is open to full-time students in grades 9-12 attending school in the following New York and New Jersey counties:
New York - Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester
New Jersey - Bergen, Essex and Hudson

Students must be between the ages of 13 and 19
as of March 16, 2009.

Fidelity FutureStage® prepares students for future stages in life through a unique music and theater education program — enabling them to learn firsthand from renowned actors, directors and musicians.

Arts education teaches unique skills that extend far beyond the classroom. Fidelity FutureStage helps students build their self-confidence, unleash their passions, and realize their potential.

Sir Elton John is Honorary Chairperson - to hear his inspiring video see www.futurestage.com

Houston Review & Set List


Let's face it - an Elton John/Billy Joel duo show is critic proof. And as the guy sitting next to me - Dandy Andy Dansby of the Houston Chronicle - said, it's also apparently recession proof. Every ticket in the Toyota Center from the front row mortgage-costing gold seats to the SRO nosebleeds near Mars was sold out.

And while the 59-year-old Billy and 61-year-old Elton came out like fighters - Joel to the strains of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and John to "God Save the Queen," neither threw any unexpected punches during the generous 3 ½ hour show. And you know what? That was just fine.

Almost every one of the 35 numbers played (save a couple of ones Joel announced "we used to call album cuts") were massive record hits and FM staples, triggering unembarrassed crowd singalongs. Any hipster sullenly bemoaning that the only radio they like involves Thom Yorke would have been pummeled in a maelstrom of suburban fists of fury.

Structured like their previous "Face to Face" tours, the pair opened with a dual set, trading off lines on each other's numbers and trotting out with ballads/wedding reception standards "Your Song" and "Just the Way You Are" early on. The highlight was a spirited "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me."

Fashionista note: Joel's dark business suit and red tie could place him in the Bada Bing's backroom on "The Sopranos," while John's long, colorfully embroidered coast with blue tails seemed to have sprung from some Moroccan castle's closet.

For Elton's set, he ballsily opened with "Funeral for a Friend," the long, elegant intro still evocative after all these years, with longtime band members Davey Johnstone (guitar) and Nigel Olsson (drums) anchoring the swirling lament. Greatest Hits favorites "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting," "Tiny Dancer," and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" tumbled out, played expertly, albeit with an at times roteness. Not that Dandy Andy and wife Darling Nikki - admitted Elton preferrers - seemed to mind at all.

Sir Elton punched things up closer to the end with "Rocket Man" (featuring an extended, jamming coda) and a more rock-oriented arrangement of "Levon," normally not one of my favorite numbers, but it took on a new life here. "I'm Still Standing" was a rare dip into the '80s though - like Joel's "Allentown" - the images of excessively oiled and limber young men from the videos kept running through my mind and ruined both tunes. And I'm not gay (as Mrs. Classic Rock Bob will attest). Not that there's anything wrong with that. Set closer "Crocodile Rock" had thousands singing along the Elmo-on-amphetamines chorus.

Then it was Joel's turn at the stool. Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of the Bard of Long Island. I have bootlegs. I know the name of his wife (no, not the ex-supermodel and not the one almost young enough to be his daughter, the first one). And my first ever concert was 1984's Innocent Man tour at the Summit. But dammit, those rapid-fire opening notes of "Prelude/Angry Young Man" still get the blood pressure moving.

Billy has always been a natural raconteur, peppering his set with jokes, stories, and local references - so he was by far the warmer performer, giving props to the nosebleed sections ("How are those seats over there in Denton?"), those sitting behind his shiny pate ("You're gonna get a lot of head tonight!") and a spinning a yarn about checking out some oil wells near San Angelo he'd bought as investments (Where traveling "just down the road a' pei" was 100 miles). His piano also spun, giving equal face time to most sections. There was also a twirling microphone involved.

With longtime backing band members Mark Rivera (sax) and Crystal Taliaferro (percussion, horns), he energetically plowed through material from the Holy Trinity of The Stranger/52nd Street/Glass Houses ("Movin' Out," "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant," "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," "Only the Good Die Young." Diehards got the deep cut "Zanzibar" complete with tasty flugelhorn solo. The gospel-tinged "River of Dreams" also stood out. And though it was a huge hit with the audience, even I can't defend the speed history lesson of "We Didn't Start the Fire" - though one had to laugh when a huge picture of Elton showed up on the screen during the line "England's got a new queen."

And then it was time for the closing set, which mirrored the first, with a full contingent united 13-piece backing band and 176 black and white keys pumping out "Uptown Girl," "The Bitch is Back," "You May Be Right," and a couple of Beatles covers.

Naturally, the two closed with "Piano Man," the stage just left with the pair of headliners facing each other over their instruments as they swapped observations of politically-savvy waitresses, career military men, and failed novelists. Yes, the song has become corny and a punchline, but it is simply impossible not to sway to the chorus. Even Dandy Andy - egged on by his wife and I - managed a very slight left-and-right body movement. No one can resist the Power of Piano Man!

In a contemporary music world where "crowd pleasing" can sometimes be an insult and stale jokes about soccer moms in the audience and expanding waistlines of Dino-Rockers are commonplace, there is something incredibly comforting in just enjoying a show and watching two popular performers, free of irony.

Joel's Italian restaurant-meeting couple Brenda and Eddie may never get to go back to the green again, But last night, they at least got to disappear into their yearbooks for a little while.

Set List:
(Elton & Billy together)
Your Song
Just the Way You Are
Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me
Yellow Rose of Texas (snippet)
My Life

(Elton alone)
Funeral for a Friend
Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting
Burn Down the Mission
Madman Across the Water
Tiny Dancer
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Daniel
Rocket Man
Levon
I'm Still Standing
Crocodile Rock

(Billy alone)
Prelude/Angry Young Man
Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
Allentown
Zanzibar
Don't Ask Me Why
She's Always a Woman
Scenes from an Italian Restaurant
River of Dreams
Deep in the Heart of Texas (snippet)
We Didn't Start the Fire
It's Still Rock and Roll to Me
Only the Good Die Young

(Elton & Billy)
I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues
Uptown Girl
The Bitch is Back
You May Be Right
Bennie & The Jets
Birthday
Back in the USSR
Candle in the Wind
Piano Man

- Houston Press

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sir Elton Coming to Belgium


Sir Elton will play Antwerp's Sportpaleis on October 13. Tickets are available from Saturday March 21st local time. 

According to local media, Sir Elton will bring his Red Piano Tour to Belgium. However, there have been no official announcements that The Red Piano Tour will be resuming in Europe. The show may indeed be a regular Rocket Man Tour production.

Stay tuned for official confirmation and more news on a possible Red Piano Tour extension.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

2nd John Joel Concert for Seattle


According to a press release that just came out, a second Elton John/Billy Joel show is now taking place on Saturday, November 7 at the Key Arena, because the first scheduled concert for November 4 sold out in less than an hour. I know these two piano legends have a legion of fans out there, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say a good portion of those initial tickets were snapped up by roboscalpers and not even real people.

I recently saw one announced concert for Billy Joel in South Florida turn into a whopping six-night stint because of "popular demand." I don't know if it will go that far in Seattle, but the process has already begun. Sure enough, these guys genuinely deserve to sell out Key Arena. But back to back? All of the ticket purchasing info that you'll need is below.

Tickets for the November 7th KeyArena performance will go on sale Monday, March 23 at 10:00 a.m. and will be available at LiveNation.com, Ticketmaster outlets or by calling (800) 745-3000. There will be a limit of 6 (six) tickets per customer. Reserved Seat Tickets: $179.50, $99.50 & $54.00 plus applicable service charges.
Available at LiveNation.com, Ticketmaster outlets and charge by phone (800) 745-3000.

- Seattle Weekly

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sir Elton to Make New Duets Album with Leon Russell



We’re always gratified to hear from a satisfied AJC subscriber. It’s even better when it’s a seven-day-a-week diehard celebrity subscriber with scoop.

After thumbing through Monday’s editions of the AJC, USA Today and The New York Times and finishing his morning tennis match, part-time Buckhead resident Sir Elton John rang the BuzzBerry to thank us for mentioning the woman who oversees his Atlanta household.

“Lucy’s over the moon that her name was in the paper this morning,” John told us, laughing.

When we inquired about the possibility of a new studio project from him (John has made no secret of his displeasure over the less-than-stellar promotion of his last album, 2006’s “The Captain and the Kid”), the singer ended up giving us an exclusive.

“I’m talking to [pianist and singer] Leon Russell and [producer] T-Bone Burnett about recording an album with Leon,” he told us.

Russell, now 67, first came on the scene as a session player for legendary producer Phil Spector in the early 1960s before embarking on a wide-ranging solo career that’s included penning modern standards like “A Song For You” and “This Masquerade.” A mesmerizing 1976 live performance of Russell recently was restored for the DVD set of “Saturday Night Live: The First Season.”

“I’ve always loved Leon, and I think it’s terrible that he’s been almost forgotten about now,” Elton added. “He’s been such an influence on my playing and his music has been such a big part of my life. It will be a duets record. I’m a huge fan, and he’s just such a great guy as well. I’m hoping it will all come together, maybe the beginning of next year. These days, I just want to focus on recording things that I really want to do, and I’ve always wanted to work with Leon.”

While we had him on the phone, we had to ask about Sir Elton’s on-stage salute to Atlanta filmmaker Tyler Perry on Saturday night.

“When his studios opened last year, I read about it in the AJC and I thought it was such an incredibly positive thing for this city. So I called to tell him that, and he ended up coming to my Oscar party this year. We got on really well. What he’s bringing to Atlanta is just incredible.”

Tonight, John is back on the plane to resume his tour with Joel in Tulsa, Okla. The tour dates run through November.

Added Elton: “This will probably be the last time that Billy and I do this together and so we’re taking it around the world. We’re having a blast together. I was thrilled we got to bring it home to Atlanta.

- AJC

Atlanta Review


For generations of fans, their decades of albums rest next to each other in the “J’s” of their music collections. On Saturday night, Sir Elton John and Billy Joel brought their successful “Face 2 Face” tour back to Philips Arena downtown. For nearly four hours, they enthusiastically banged through their hit catalogs, deep album cuts and, for good measure, a couple of rockers from the Beatles, a common influence of the singers-songwriters.

In these tough economic times, the piano men made sure the ticket holders more than got their money’s worth.

“Thank you for purchasing the tickets and keeping us in work,” Joel told the sold-out, screaming crowd. Pointing to the rafters, Joel couldn’t resist adding: “Those people up there in Decatur, we want to thank you, too, for purchasing those seats. But you probably paid too much!”

The evening was expertly paced with John and Joel leading off with trading verses on their iconic ballads “Your Song” and “Honesty.”

Eventually, both men yielded the stage to each other and their bands for extended trips through the John and Joel songbooks.

“It’s nice to be home!” John, a Peachtree Road resident, told the roaring crowd before launching into fan favorite album cuts like “Funeral For a Friend” and “Madman Across the Water.”

He dedicated “Tiny Dancer” to his favorite local women, including his Atlanta household domestic goddess Lucy and B98.5 FM morning personality Vikki Locke (We’ve met Lucy and if there’s a rock star in residence at John’s Buckhead home, it’s her).

The singer also saluted Atlanta filmmaker Tyler Perry, telling the crowd, “I’m so proud to live in the same city as Tyler Perry. He’s fantastic!”

If John is rock’s regal statesman these days, Joel may be rock’s crazy uncle who trots out jokes well past their expiration date but manages to make you laugh anyway.

A creaky microphone stand served as a running joke for Joel, and he threatened to turn another into a lethal weapon during “It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me.”

The singer also delighted fans with a live rendition of his epic “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” and “Zanzibar,” a jazzy, overlooked cut from his album “52nd Street” (the 1978 original featured a memorable guest stint from jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard).

The evening built toward an epic finale featuring both men back behind their pianos with both bands, delivering blistering renditions of “The Bitch is Back,” “You May Be Right,” “Bennie and the Jets,” and a pair of rockers from “The White Album:” “Birthday” and “Back in the USSR.”

The evening’s biggest kick was watching Joel and John having such a ball trading vocals on each other’s hit songs (John was even singing along with the crowd during Joel’s opening verse of “You May Be Right.” He wasn’t alone. Even the black-suited Philips Arena security team loitering in the stairwells were mouthing the words).

The duo closed the evening for fatigued fans with “Candle in the Wind” and “Piano Man.”

On the way out of the arena, music fans were left to wonder if the floundering music industry with its current focus on creating cherry-pickable, disposable iTunes singles, is still capable of producing multi-decade artists like John and Joel.

Or as Mississippi-born bluesman Mose Allison, 81, a key Elton John influence, sang earlier this month during a gig at Blind Willie’s: “When I become was, will there still be someone around with essentially my kinda sound?”

A question worth posing in an era when the previous sold-out show at Philips Arena this month was Britney Spears, a performer who lip synched her entire two-hour concert.

- AJC

Elton John Music to Feature in New Bruno Movie


Some of the wildest scenes in the upcoming Sacha Baron Cohen comedy "Bruno" were shot in Texas, so it seems only fitting that he would choose to unleash some early footage right here in the state's film vortex.

A few hundred movie fans got a sneak peek at 22 minutes of "Bruno" late Sunday night at the South by Southwest film festival, which opened Friday. The scenes came in three segments, with Baron Cohen appearing on screen in between in an editing room to introduce them in an overly proper English accent.

"Bruno," due out July 10 from Universal Pictures, follows the same basic formula the British comic used to huge commercial and critical success with 2006's "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."

Instead of a clueless Kazakh TV journalist struggling to understand American culture, Baron Cohen's Bruno character is a flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion correspondent hoping to make it big in Hollywood. But the net result is the same from the people he provokes on screen: shock, outrage and a satirical exposure of human prejudices.

In the first bit of footage, Bruno has decided to achieve celebrity by adopting a black baby, and wants to feature the child in an avant-garde performance art project. ("Ich bin pushing the limits," he explains in broken German.) He interviews several mothers and fathers to determine whether their children would be suitable to play guest stars, and his questions grow increasingly absurd: Are they afraid of stuffed animals? Reptiles? Hornets? Would they be OK with being dropped off a four-story building, or willing to have liposuction? Regardless of the request, the parents categorically say "yes."

Part two, which was shot just north of Dallas, finds Bruno appearing on a Jerry Springer-style talk show in leather pants, looking for Mr. Right. Members of the predominantly black studio audience are appalled by his in-your-face homosexuality, and they get even angrier when he brings out his adopted baby and shows them a self-consciously artsy photograph of the child posing as Jesus on a cross. Although it appears there are a few plants in the crowd to ask the right questions, the majority of them seem genuinely disgusted as they storm out.

Finally, Bruno decides to reinvent himself by going hetero and changing his name to "Straight Dave." Dressed like Ted Nugent in camouflage, long hair and a scruffy beard, he stages a mixed-martial arts contest, which was shot last summer in Arkansas. When Bruno's ex-boyfriend crawls into the ring and the two start making out, stripping and rubbing all over each other, spectators in the conservative crowd holler, make anti-gay slurs and throw plastic cups of beer at them. They end up storming out, too.

The moment was edited to the tune of Elton John's "Can You Feel the Love Tonight." Judging by the raucous reaction these early scenes got in Austin, Baron Cohen's about to feel the love from moviegoers all over again this summer.

- AP

Sir Elton May Play Croatia


Sir Elton may sing on the 27th of June at the Arena amphitheatre in Pula.

This would take place around the same time as the 10th Histria, an annual festival of music, opera, ballet and theatre.

The idea of having Elton entertain Pula has been around for a long time, but it has not been possible until now to set up his huge production equipment at the Arena. This year, the Pula amphitheatre would be especially adjusted for Elton's performance.

Argentine tenor José Cura, who will officially open the festival, and Carlos Santana, who will appear on July 12, have confirmed their performances.

- Croatian Times

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Elton John Band Performing at School


Members of the Elton John Band are to appear at a benefit concert for the Lupin Hill Elementary School, in Agoura, California, where some of their children study. 'It's Only Rock 'n Roll' will take place on Sunday, April 26, 6pm at The Canyon Club, 28912 Roadside Drive, Agoura, CA 91301.

The concert will feature all the members of the Elton John Band (Davey Johnstone, Guy Babylon, John Mahon, Bob Birch and Nigel Olsson) and friends, plus Lupin Hill's The Tiger Chorale and Fabulous Fiddlers. In what has become a regular event over recent years, Davey Johnstone and the band members will perform with other friends and also with musicians from the school. This is a family event that is always a lot of fun for all involved, and proceeds from the concert will help with the school's music and arts programme.

- Eltonjohn.com

Sir Elton to Speak at Biotech Conference


Elton John will deliver a keynote address at the BIO International Convention in Atlanta in May, industry officials announced Tuesday.

The singer and part-time Atlanta resident will speak about how biotechnology has affected prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, and about future challenges related to the disease.

The annual biotech convention is expected to draw 20,000 people to the Georgia World Congress Center.

“For many years, we have been deeply impressed by Sir Elton John’s longstanding commitment to the fight against AIDS and his efforts to raise money for HIV/AIDS charitable organizations,” said James Greenwood, BIO president. “We share a common vision when it comes to solving some of the world’s most challenging health problems, like HIV/AIDS.”

BIO represents more than 1,200 biotech companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations. The nonprofit Elton John AIDS Foundation supports prevention programs, care and support services, and efforts to eliminate stigma.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Face 2 Face Coming to Seattle


The rocket man and the piano man are together again.

Playing on a tour named "Face 2 Face," Elton John and Billy Joel are heading to Seattle's KeyArena on Nov. 4. The last time they came to Puget Sound area was eight years ago at the Tacoma Dome. Tickets sold out in an hour then. In 2003, the two had 24 sellouts on their tour together.

This time around, their tour has already sold out Chicago, Toronto, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, Houston and Tampa.

The show will feature each artist at his own piano, trading vocals, duetting, and also playing with his own band.

John has been in the music scene for nearly 50 years, selling more than 200 million records, winning five Grammy Awards and producing more than 40 Top-40 hits, including the popular, "Rocket Man." (Find more on John here — www.eltonjohn.com).

Joel is one of the most popular American singers. He's sold more than 150 million albums, with 33 Top-40 hits and six Grammy Awards. His first hit, "Piano Man," came out in 1973. (And there's plenty more on Joel at www.billyjoel.com).

Tickets for their KeyArena show go on sale 10 a.m. Monday, March 16. They go for $54-$179.50 and are available at www.livenation.com, Ticketmaster outlets (206-628-0888 or www.ticketmaster.com), or you can charge by phone at 800-745-3000. There is a six-ticket limit per customer.

- Seattle Times

Billy & Elton's Unique Dressing Rooms


BILLY JOEL insists his backstage dressing room is like a different world compared to touring partner SIR ELTON JOHN's colourful space.

The pair has hit the road again on the Face2Face tour and Joel insists the fact that both be and Elton play piano is one of the only things that make them alike.

He claims their differences are clear in their dressing rooms.

Joel tells Rolling Stone magazine, "Mine is like the back of a deli. Give me some water, a couple of sodas and a cold-cut (meat) platter, and I'm good.

"Elton's looks like the glory that was Rome. He has flowers, and the room is draped with all kinds of materials.

"There are boys in togas, like centurions. And he's got dozens of pairs of shoes and beautiful jackets and sunglasses."

- Contact Music

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

No F2F in NYC 'Till '10 - Latin America This Year


Sorry, Billy Joel and Elton John fans. You will have to wait until next year to come face to face with the "Face to Face" tour in the New York area.

Before the tour opener last night in Jacksonville, Joel told me that there are no plans to play the area this year. The current leg of the tour runs through the South and California. In May, it hits the Midwest and in July it tours stadiums, including two nights at Wrigley Field in Chicago and two nights in Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park.

"We just did the two nights at Shea last year," Joel said. "We thought the market might be a little tapped out."

Of course, the Joel fans who snapped up those tickets in record-setting time last year might disagree, however, there are tentative plans for a New York run in 2010. Joel said he is excited about taking "Face to Face" to Latin America for the first time this year.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Review: The First Face to Face Gig of '09


The concert was big. It just felt BIG.

There were two big stars – Elton John and Billy Joel, playing at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, their first tour together since 2003. And this was the very first show on this latest edition of the Face 2 Face Tour. That’s big.

The stage was big, the lights were big … bathing the stage in dark blue or bursting it into orange and red flames.

And the crowd was big and, of course, mostly old enough not only to remember but to have bought those first albums from the two back in the early 1970s.

It started like this: At 7:45 p.m., (only 15 minutes late, which isn’t bad) two black, grand pianos rose from underneath the stage. To the strains of “Yankee Doodle,” Joel came up on one side of the stage.

John walked up on the other while another tune played — I recognized it, it was British, I should be able to name it … but I can’t.

Joel was dressed in a dark suit. John was a little more flamboyant, no surprise there, but far less than the old days. He settled for a black jacket with tails, with a good bit of glitter on the back. Still pretty tame.

About three hours and fifteen minutes later, they finished the last notes of “Piano Man,” shook a few hands along the stage, hugged each other a few times and waved goodbye.

And in between, yes, it was a fine show. They played four songs together to start the show, another six to end. As good as they were on their own – they each did a little more than an hour with their bands - watching and hearing them play together was just special.

For the first show on the tour, there were few glitches. A couple of loud feedback squawks forced some hands over ears.

The biggest problem was that Joel’s vocals weren’t loud enough for most of his set. It’s hard to know if he just didn’t project as much as John did or if it was in the mix.

John’s voice, by the way, is still remarkably strong and clear. He simply sounded great playing and singing.

They each had their styles. John got up between each song and waved to the audience. But he was pretty stationary when he played, stayed perched on his piano stool. He didn’t talk a lot, but seemed to have plenty of fun being there.

Most human moment: When he broke into a bit of a laugh as he looked over at Joel and sang the opening verse to “Piano Man,” … “There’s an old man sitting next to me.”

Joel was much more active, joking with the audience, bouncing on his stool. He stepped away from the piano and strapped on a guitar for “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” For “It’s Still Rock ‘n Roll to Me,” he put down the guitar and jumped around the stage twirling the microphone stand.

There were a few times when interest seemed to wane during John’s set, including the long instrumental during “Madman Across the Water.” You’ve got to admire his courage though, It’d have been easier to just play a bunch of four-minute versions of his hits.

But he did some of that, too. And his extended version of “Rocket Man” was one of the real highlights.

About three hours, after they had the crowd on its feet with “Bennie and the Jets” and a surprise version of the Beatles’ “Birthday” and “Back in the USSR,” it looked like it was time to leave and then come back for the obligatory encore.

Instead, they met at center stage, Joel looked at his watch, they talked and then went back to their pianos. There they played the two songs they had to do, the ones that had probably been planned for the encore. But John explained that he didn’t like stopping just then.

So they finished with his “Candle in the Wind” and Joel’s more-than-appropriate “Piano Man.”

Following is the complete set list of the Jacksonville show on March 2, 2009:

Elton John/Billy Joel (solo)

Your Song
Honesty

Elton John/Billy Joel (bands)

Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
My Life

Elton John set

Funeral For A Friend
Love Lies Bleeding
Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)
Burn Down The Mission
Madman Across The Water
Tiny Dancer
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Daniel
Rocket Man
Levon
I'm Still Standing
Crocodile Rock

Billy Joel set

Prelude
Angry Young Man
Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
Allentown
Zanzibar
She's Always A Woman
Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
I Go To Extremes
River Of Dreams (feat. Take Me To The Pilot)
We Didn't Start The Fire
It's Still Rock'n'Roll To Me
Only The Good Die Young

Elton John/Billy Joel (Bands)

The Bitch Is Back
You Maybe Right
Bennie And The Jets
They Say It's Your Birthday
Back In The U.S.S.R.

Elton John/Billy Joel (solo)

Candle In The Wind
Piano Man

- Jacksonville.com & Stephan Heimbecher.