Zurich Hallenstadion, Wednesday, December 3, 2014.
Author Nualan O’Brien
Photos: K.Thomopoulos (c) Zurich-Events.com
Elton John: The Facts
- Over 300 million record sales
- 50 plus top 40 hits, including seven number 1 US albums
- He is one of the best-selling musicians in the world
Elton John: The Performer
The stage is black, darkened. The arena is full and silent. We wait. A light shines on Elton John. The ebony yamaha glistens. His sparkly blue suit reflects the stage lights. All at once, his sonorous, powerful voice fills the large arena. His deft fingers caress the keys of his piano with the ease and familiarity of a man for whom piano playing is like walking for most of us. In fact, he has been playing the piano since he was three years of age.
This artist has been in show biz for 46 years, longer than most of the audience has been alive I noticed. The audience ranged from teenagers, twenty somethings, to fifty somethings. I must confess to being ‘too lost in music’ to remember the first actual song he played. I just know I enjoyed it. Very much.
‘Good Evening Zurich’ he says to the audience in his very British accent, telling us the first four songs were from his Yellow Brick Road album, released 40 years ago in 1974. Songs included ‘Goodbye Norma Jean’ and ‘Believe’. “Believe” he tell us, is his favourite song as its subject is love. ‘We need more love in the world,’ he declares. The audience claps.
He is a generous artist, thanking his band members individually, acknowledging his lyricists and often naming other artists when introducing songs. Artists he has worked with include: Eminem, Gary Barlow, George Michael and Tim Rice.
Elton John engages well with the audience, explaining the philosophy behind his songs. In the Circle of Life, from the Lion King, his favourite line is: “You should never take more than you give.”
He tells us he still loves to tour. But he does not need to tell us this, as it is clear from the expression on his face. This love of performing is also evident in the faces of his band members. They say that youth is wasted on the young, and I find it a beautiful thing when older people are so youthful that they make the young in awe of them.
The Challenges the Artist Faced in his Life
Elton John has had challenges in his life. He lost friends, including Freddie Mercury to AIDS. Let’s not forget the vitriol with which homosexuals have been treated with. He admitted to being bisexual in the 1970’s and then to being gay in the 80’s. In 1952, Alan Turing, the British mathematician who cracked the Nazi Enigma code, which was instrumental in the Allies defeating Hitler in World War 2 was prosecuted for engaging in ‘criminal homosexual’ behaviour. That was only 20 years prior to Elton John saying he was bisexual.
Songs in the Zurich repertoire included:
- Sorry seems to be the hardest word
- Something in the Air Tonight
- I’m Still Standing
- Something in the Way you Look tonight
- Circle of Life (Lion King)
- The One
- What Can I do to Make You Love Me?
- Candle in the Wind
The man is 67 and yet his voice and presence seems to be even better than when he was younger. He tells the audience he is happier now, he is “grateful for the love of his partner of 21 years and his two beautiful children”, whom they had with a surrogate mother.
This is a man who is ‘content dans son peau’ as the French say, ‘happy in his own skin’. He thanked the audience for the love they showed him. “When I go home after a concert, I cannot sleep as I am so excited,” he shared with us.
The Best Memory from Elton John’s Concert in Zurich
What did I like most about this concert? This concert was all about the raw music. Elton John’s music has enduring and classic appeal. He does not need sinewy dancers, or to be hoisted up on platforms by ropes, or any other paraphernalia to create a memorable show. Why? His music is enough. The quality of the his naked voice, accompanied by his skilful piano playing and band are enough to move us, to make us want to dance and to make us feel alive.