Saturday, February 28, 2015

Behind the Scenes in Cincinnati

Sir Elton John will take the stage this Friday to perform in front of thousands at the US Bank Arena, but before fans enjoy the glitz and glamor expected of his famously extravagant productions, his tour crew will spend hours prepping for the show.

As one of the top performers of all time and a five-time Grammy award winner, John's work has spanned the past five decades, selling more than 250 million records worldwide. He still holds the record for having the biggest selling single of all time, "Candle in the Wind," which sold more than 37 million copies.

Cincinnati is the first stop on John's upcoming nine-city tour. While he's only stopped in the Queen City a handful of times over the years, it still remains a favorite of his crew.

"The fans here are terrific. Logistically it’s close to where the sound and lights come from and it’s got a great airport. There are 40 of us who came in from all over the U.S., Canada and around the world, so that’s an important thing," said tour manager D.C. Parmet.

Crew members flew into the Tri-State Wednesday and began working on the stage setup by 7 a.m. Thursday. The crew will work on setting up the sound, lighting and video before an official sound check ahead of Friday's performance.

"If everything goes good, and Murphy's Law doesn't show up, we're ready for a show. And what's crazier than that is after the show's over around 10:45 p.m., then in two-and- a-half hours we have it all packed into nine trucks and ready to go to the next city," said production rigger Michael Gomez.

That pack-up also includes the five nine-foot grand pianos they travel with for each tour.

The set was designed by famed British architect Mark Fisher, who also collaborated with artists like the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Lady Gaga, and more before his death in 2013. Fisher's design for Elton's upcoming tour was one of his last.

"It’s got to look beautiful; it’s got to look extravagant, but it’s got to be tour friendly too, and that’s what was so unique about Mark Fisher," said Gomez.

But for longtime employees like Parmet and Gomez, who have worked for John for 17 and 10 years respectively, the hard work is worth it.

"People always wonder what Elton's like because they’ve seen him on ‘Tantrums and Tiaras’ or on different newscasts or read different articles, but he is very funny. He’s one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever worked with and he’s a proper English gentleman. What more can you say? I have thank you notes that he’s sent me," said Parmet.

“He loves us, he’s a great man to work for," said Gomez.

While fans can expect to hear some of their favorite staples, Cincinnati is in for a surprise Friday night. Parmet told media Thursday that John is expected debut a new song he wrote just two weeks ago.


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