Cobwebs & Dust Bunnies

Elton John Wows Sold-Out Crowd

By Wanda Swenson
I spent last Friday night with the Rocket Man and three family members who enjoyed him as much as I did. My daughter gifted us with birthday/Christmas/retirement/etc. tickets to the sold-out Elton John concert at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, and I think it was the best gift I have ever received.
After late afternoon wine tasting and then dinner at Johnny Carino’s, we and over 12,000 other concert-goers wound our way through the concert venue to our seats in the front row of the second tier. At just after 8 p.m., Elton John entered the stage and didn’t leave again until he had finished his concert over two hours later. He also came back for an encore performance of “Crocodile Rock”, which was the one song we had not yet heard. Before he sang that, he spent almost 10 minutes putting his autograph on pictures, shirts, hats and whatever was handed to him by those lucky enough and wealthy enough to have a spot right next to the stage.
At nearly 10:30 p.m., we watched him walk out of sight for the last time between his four bodyguards. What an amazing amount of time for a 68 year-old man to sing and play piano onstage without breaks. He did sip water from time to time and visit with the audience to share insights into the next song, but most of the time, he was in performance mode.
The age range of the audience was noticeable and interesting. People older than myself, younger than my daughter, and children who were not yet in middle school would probably include most of them. Some were dressed in the earlier Elton John era of bright, colorful clothes, boas and large-shaped glasses. He did have a long dark coat on with lots of sequins providing a good amount of bling under the lights, but his glasses were the red-tinted granny glasses that he seems to have permanently adopted.
Elton’s Web site gives ovation to his prodigious talent that was discovered when he surprised his family at the age of three by playing The Skater’s Waltz by ear…that means with no music and having had no instruction. At present, Elton John “is one of the most acclaimed and successful solo artists of all time, achieving 37 gold and 27 multi-platinum albums, has sold over 250 million records worldwide, and holds the record for the biggest selling single of all time,” which was “Candle in the Wind” in 1997. “Over the five decades since his career began in 1969, he has played more than 3,500 concerts in over 80 countries.”
His breakthrough hit was “Your Song,” followed by “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” “Daniel” and others, all written in the 1970s. He performed John Lennon’s comeback hit, “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” in 1974 with Lennon at Madison Square Garden, which would be Lennon’s last concert performance, and resonates with Elton John as the most memorable of his own career.
Elton John sang all of those songs and many more Friday night with a voice that seemed not to have aged over the last five decades. And he played his Yamaha piano with the same passion and competence he has always had, which drew sincere admiration from the audience. It was truly an amazing performance that was so worth the money and the trip for all of us. My Christmas list will include a CD of his music, which I should have bought years ago.
After some shopping in Sioux Falls and Mitchell the following day, we traveled back to Sanborn County with a memorable weekend experience in our hearts and plans to attend another concert at the Premier Center in the future. Our only objection was the few exits that are in the building. It took 15-20 minutes for those on the upper levels to get to the main floor and out of the building, but those on the lower levels had their wait as they tried to get out of the parking lot.

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