The rock ‘n’ roll years are drawing to a close. The greats are dead, or long retired. But still a few hardy souls keep on touring, rolling back the years for audiences all around the world….but for how much longer?
Don’t it always seem to go?
You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.
Top British broadcaster, author and journalist Steve Jenner describes a selection of concert performances by some of the world’s greatest rock stars in their later years as performers, and the UK venues in which he saw them.
Get your ticket to the greatest show on earth. Because when it’s gone, it’s gone……
Targeted Age Group:: All audiences except young children but predominantly adult, 25+
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 1 – G Rated Clean Read
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The realization that the people who played the music I loved were not going to be around ‘doing it’ for very much longer. I knew that there would be more people out there, across the entire world, who would be increasingly aware of this. And so, before it became too late, I decided to write down what I was witness to – and invite everyone in the English – speaking world to share in rock n roll’s late, late show. Or should that be ‘requiem’?
Cue monosyllabic keyboards; ‘Bennie and the Jets’. Those of us who bought the track as a 45rpm vinyl B – side ‘back – in – the – day’ and played it until the plastic went grey with wear love the ‘live’ sound of Madison Square Garden in the background. Granted, not quite so many shoe – horned into a packed B2net but enough to generate a considerable atmosphere within five minutes given the turbocharged start to proceedings.
A look around the audience is a revelation. Many, it appears, have come to show off their Elton John glasses and ‘seventies’ costumes whilst glugging the old champers and attempting to ingest as many stadium hotdogs as is humanly possible. Whatever floats your boat, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people come to a major live gig……and then pay only passing attention to what’s going on onstage and in some cases, the music, even….
‘Tiny Dancer’ features early in the set, recently reactivated and given a new lease of life by Ironik (feat. Chipmunk, whatever that means) as those huge, heavily – hit piano figures clang and clank around the stadium. Elton John hits that keyboard Hard – and I suspect this is one of his most successful Secret Weapons. Every massively successful artist has a few in the weaponry available to them and these are often the calling cards, the signature devices, which make an artist unique.
There then feature a clutch of the tunes which made the 1970’s worthwhile. Philadelphia Freedom, complete with that deep bass ‘thwack’ (forever drummer Nigel Olsson, take a bow now) which marks this out as a true blue – eyed Philly – soul classic; Candle In The Wind; Yellow Brick Road; Rocket Man.
If the body of work this man had produced stopped there, it would be remarkable enough.
Fortunately, it didn’t. Off to the 80’s we go; ‘I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues’, played faithfully and extremely convincingly by the band and accompanied with great gusto by the increasingly ‘warmed up’ audience who by now are in the palm of Elton’s hand, as he belts out a song, then leaps out of his seat and scuttles about the stage, soaking up the applause from all sectors of the stadium. Yes, he has done this before, but he treads the boards with all the ease and confidence of the consummate showman he is. Yes, there are probably fewer physical pyrotechnics than there were when he was a considerably younger man and yes, on the odd occasion there is probably a tiny bit less flexibility in the vocal range than there used to be, but that is nit – picking. He still sounds great and looks like Elton John. Which is what you’re paying for, right?
And then, ‘Sacrifice’. I have a favourite top 12 all – artist classic airplay songs which just seem to caress FM radio, every time you play them, doesn’t matter what time of day, wherever. And this is one of them. And just like some of the others eg. ‘Every Breath You Take’ by The Police, ‘I Won’t Back Down’ by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, they have one common denominator.
They’re Dead Simple.
There is absolutely nothing to the song ‘Sacrifice’.
And there is the true genius of the song and why it sat at number one on the UK chart for 5 whole weeks. Listen to the enormous spaces in the production and the sparing use of extremely beautiful studio trickery. What a delight then that something which does seem to be such a potent studio confection is performed with such eloquence and purity. Stunning.
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