Wednesday, November 18, 2015

300 Visually Impaired Fans to Hear Elton for Free

Even if they can't see what spectacles Elton John is wearing, 300 visually impaired people will hear every word he sings.

Capital C: Concerts, have worked with The Hits radio station to offer 300 free tickets in restricted view seats to visually impaired Kiwis for the Elton John concert on Saturday.

Capital C: Concerts promoter Phil Sprey says his company was looking for a worthy cause to support and decided on the Blind Foundation.

"We're a Wellington-based company and we like getting involved in community things and opening up opportunities for people who wouldn't ordinarily have access to things."

Capital C: Concerts gave The Hits 300 tickets to give out, half of which went to the Blind Foundation, and the remaining half to people who have an eye issue or wear glasses.

Blind Foundation technology specialist Anthony Hovrath has been blind since birth, and currently works at the Blind Foundation as an adaptive technology specialist.

He considers himself a big Elton John fan, and says he feels lucky to see Elton John in concert again.

"This will be the third time I would have seen him in concert. I saw him in Wellington in 2006 and I also saw him when he was in Auckland in 1994."

Hovrath will have a sighted guide with him, as will many other visually impaired ticket holders.

The clients will be seated in a section with obstructed views, but sound will not be affected.

Sprey says the two areas dedicated to the giveaway can fit between 500 and 600 people, but the visually impaired ticket holders and their guides will have the areas to themselves.

The Hits radio host Paul Flynn is legally blind which poses difficulties at concerts, he says.

He is a music lover, and therefore finds it frustrating when he struggles to see performers on stage.

"It would be really great if there were an option for people like me to get cheaper tickets. Because even if we couldn't see the stage, it wouldn't really matter."

Flynn has worn glasses since the age of 2. He is long-sighted and has a stigmatism, making everything blurry without glasses.

He has a soft spot for Elton John because his records are some of the earliest he recalls listening to.

"I used to play dad's records and then talk in between the songs like I was the radio host. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was one of the first albums I ever listened to."

Flynn hopes other concert promoters will be forward-thinking in the future and engage in similar initiatives for the visually impaired.

"It makes sense to be in restricted view seating, and we will all be in the same boat. And it won't matter because we can't see anyway," he jokes.

- Stuff

Sir Elton John will be a real-life rocket man when he blasts into New Zealand next weekend.

The superstar arrives in Wellington on Saturday in a private jet from Japan just hours before taking the stage in front of 30,000 fans at Westpac Stadium.

And while the crowd is listening to his backing band close the concert, Sir Elton will already be zooming back to the airport in a limo to board his waiting plane for his next gig in Hong Kong.

"Sir Elton doesn't hang about," promoter Phil Sprey from Capital C: Concerts told the Herald on Sunday. "He will arrive mid-afternoon and relax for a couple of hours before performing.

"He shoots straight back to the airport as soon as he is finished while his band is still on stage."

Sprey has promoted Sir Elton's concerts in New Zealand for many years. He has performed to about 130,000 fans in New Zealand over the past decade.

"It is usually a case of seeing him briefly backstage to exchange quick hellos before saying 'see you next time mate', then he's gone," Sprey said. "He is travelling without his family because his flight schedule is so punishing. I doubt if many airline pilots would even fancy doing it."

- NZ Herald

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