Friday, November 25, 2011
Dunedin Gears Up For The Rocket Man
Sir Elton John jets into Dunedin today for the southern-most concert of his long career.
The 64-year-old performer arrives in Dunedin by private plane late this afternoon with an entourage of 38 aboard.
"Even I'm not sure exactly what time he's coming in," promoter Capital: C Concerts managing director Phil Sprey said yesterday.
"When he arrives in Dunedin they won't be taking him through the terminal; it will all be done behind private screens."
The Forsyth Barr Stadium looked as if it was being prepared for an invasion yesterday, as an army of riggers and technicians put the final touches on the concert set-up.
"Some people will have never seen anything like this. The fact it's Elton John and a new stadium means that people who wouldn't usually go to a big concert want to be a part of it.
"It's going to be very memorable," Mr Sprey said.
Sir Elton, born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on March 25, 1947, is one of the most successful music artists in history, with more than 250 million records sold.
In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him No 49 on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.
The concert will start at 7.30pm with Hokitika country singer-songwriter Katie Thompson, followed by Auckland rock guitarist Kara Gordon.
Sir Elton is expected to take the stage about 8.30pm for two hours, backed by his long-time band and Croatian rock cello duo 2Cellos.
The sound and lighting equipment was tested last night and the support acts would sound-check this afternoon, Mr Sprey said.
"Elton doesn't rehearse before a concert. He's been doing it for years. After 3000 concerts, you know what you're doing."
Sir Elton's modified Yamaha piano arrives at the stadium this morning from his last concert, on Tuesday, in Malaysia.
"It's specially made for him. It has to be reinforced, because he stands on it and climbs all over it on stage."
Sir Elton will travel to Sydney after the concert tonight for the start of his Australian tour tomorrow.
The final tickets to Elton John's concert this Friday have gone! Thirty five and a half thousand seats have been sold with a maximum possible seated capacity at Dunedin’s new Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Capital C: Concerts stated that everyone associated with this concert is ecstatic that the event will herald in an exciting future for the venue and the city.
Promoter, Phil Sprey says, "We have been working with the management at Dunedin Venues for nearly two years and have gone well beyond what our competition would ever have even contemplated to make this first; major concert a lifetime experience. We don't take short cuts and have spent more money than we ever have before to ensure the audience gets the absolute best."
Capital C: Concerts went further to say that they will be preparing a special report post-concert to explore the positives and negatives surrounding the event so that all concerned can learn for future concerts.
Elton John fans swarming to Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium tomorrow night have been warned - prepare to be impressed.
That was the message from Capital C: Concerts managing director and concert promoter Phil Sprey yesterday, as workers hoisted a $1.5 million sound system into place.
The system - the best available in New Zealand - would blast out the Rocket Man's hits for the 35,500 people at the first major international act at Dunedin's new venue.
Mr Sprey last night said the concert had officially sold out, with the last 75 to 100 seats to go to local charities.
Preparations for the concert began in earnest on Monday, with representatives from at least 12 New Zealand companies involved, and were expected to be completed later today, Mr Sprey said.
Workers were yesterday spreading 13,000 white plastic seats in neat rows across the stadium's playing surface, and checking each of the stadium's permanent seats to ensure all was ready.
One of three large screens was also resting in the centre of the playing pitch, ready to be hoisted into position from the stadium's roof.
Two more would be positioned either side of the stage, and all three would show shots from seven cameras, including close-ups, accompanied by a laser light show, Mr Sprey said.
More than 100 cabinets of speakers were also being hoisted into position over the stadium, some suspended from roof trusses and aimed at the upper reaches of the north, south and west stands.
The cabinets and amplifiers were part of a $1.5 million sound system provided by Sound People in Christchurch, which Mr Sprey said was the best on offer in New Zealand.
It is a long way from a rocket, man.
But that has not stopped Port Otago staff from naming one of their giant container straddle carriers after pop star Sir Elton John.
The 68-tonne straddles can transport up to four containers at once and have a top speed of 25kmh when empty.
No 29 was officially named after the piano man yesterday.
"The directors came up with the idea. It was just a bit of fun, really. There's got to be a bit of fun in the business, too," Port Otago plant services manager Bob Smillie said yesterday.
"The idea is to personalise the big machines our men and women are spending so much of their working day on and we thought we would name them after icons of the entertainment world over the last 30 or 40 years.
"At the moment, they are all numbered and we thought it would be fun, and a bit unique, to give them names. The intention is to eventually name all the large straddles and machines in the container terminal, but we thought we would start with Elton because he's here.
"The next step will be to let the staff decide the names.
"We will probably do a short list and everyone can have a vote."
The port authority operated 15 straddles at the terminal, Mr Smillie said.
The huge machines are made in Finland by Kalmar and assembled when they arrive in Dunedin.
"We told the Kalmar people about it and they said they had never heard of anything like it. It's a world first, as far as they are concerned," Mr Smillie said.
"We would have liked Elton to come down and have a drive of the straddle, but we appreciate he might be a bit busy for that."