Thursday, September 18, 2014

'What The Papers Say'

Here's a first...a blog post about a blog post. Or to be exact the reaction to it.

When I started this blog last year the purpose of it was to get Elton's music out there. For too long the 'other side' of his career...showbiz, drugs, drink, relationships, shopping, flowers and so the list goes on...seemed to take precedent over the music. For me it starts and ends with what happens on disc and on stage. All those other extra curricular affairs bore me to tears. Too many indeed. Anything that gets Elton's music output to the forefront of peoples consciousness has to be encouraged. As time has gone on the reaction I've got to the blog has been incredible. So thanks to everyone who has popped in for a gawk. One of the mandates here is that a consensus is not required when viewing. Agreement or disagreement is both expected and tolerated. .

I've been reading worldwide online reviews of Elton since the late 90's when they became easier to access. There's been some right pelters flung in his direction during that time, not just one either. Some of the late 90's one's were particularly savage. A backlash to the whole Diana spectacle no doubt. In fact, I myself challenged a well known reviewer as to the validity of his comment. BP Fallon, one time associate member of the Plastic Ono Band, published a quite scathing review in the Sunday Independent of Elton and Billy at Croke Park in 1998. So with keyboard in hand, I became a warrior. The difference being with today's equivalent of said sage of the internet, I put my name to it. The paper published my letter the following week challenging his misinterpretations and ultimately convincing those who were led astray. At least that's what I hoped it did. I'm no stranger over the years to standing up for Elton when unfair commentary has been broadcast. I may tell the story another time of some of my various radio appearances over the years doing just that.

However since the turn of this decade there's been a generally overwhelming, dare I say, total agreement among reviewers about Elton's live prowess. I'm always cautious when there's a common policy of opinion formers, the police department of thought can manifest itself in various forms. The initial reviews of The Diving Board were all copy and paste jobs from Rolling Stone until freedom of expression broke up that group think convention. As late as this month when you saw the reviews of the Kate Bush residency in London they all seem to quote and emit a reportage along the same tried and trusted lines. You kind of wonder do they huddle together after the show and compare notes. 

This review appeared earlier in the week for the opening night of the current leg of the tour in Vancouver. Anyone who knows my work on Facebook will be au fait with the fact that I post up the latest concert reviews as soon as they appear. This one, whilst being earthy in it's delivery, still got the message across. Elton and the band put on a damn good show. From beginning to end. And it was the end that got Elton all hot and to speak. 

We've all got our setlist fetishes, some more bizarre than others. However once we cross the Rubicon of the auditorium all that is left where it belongs. Hanging on some message board to be discussed later. Showtime starts and off we go. Once we come out we can then dissect the bones. I suspect the reviewer, Newt, didn't know the setlist beforehand. Which is a good thing I suppose. But he does know his Elton onions. His pointed remarks in regards the ending of the show with Circle Of Life/Can You Feel the Love Tonight medley was interesting. If you read Elton's comments on night 2 in Vancouver he pointed out why he does both those songs. It's his show and all that. But we pay to go in so I think we can pass fair comment too. It's kind of a score draw in the end, isn't it. I'll let people read what Elton said in relation to the review and make their own minds up.

So it's interesting when a setlist  is decided, there's a personal aspect to it and a general desire to please everyone. What do I think though? Circle Of Life with the band in it's MDP version as an ending is epic beyond words. It's thunderous overture leaves a sharp echo in the ear long after you've gone home. However when it's tacked onto Can You Feel The Love Tonight for a solo affair, especially after the rock out segment, it appears on paper to ease off the adrenaline rush a bit too quickly. In June 2013 when I saw him he finished with Circle Of Life solo and it put a calm swathe over everyone. The power of the song is spellbinding and has plenty of muscle to stand on it's own. Can You Feel The Love Tonight isn't one of my favourites though, so it's never going to send me home in a buzz as much as Circle Of Life would do. But that's just me. Am I wrong? Well, no. I think I'm right. Because if I thought I was wrong I'd be disagreeing with myself. 

I love reading any review of an Elton show. Especially those I'm not at. I want honesty and sincerity. I'll make up my own my then as to what to believe or not. I'll never close off the super highway of information that comes my way. It's funny, you read some forums who welcome news, views, etc. but only along the lines of a predetermined policy. A demonstration of autocracy rather than democracy being demonstrably practiced. 

Sometimes though it pays never to be too harsh. Newt I suspect, whilst sticking to his guns, will have those two highlighted sentences as an epitaph casting a long shadow over him long after what he wrote before has been forgotten. You just never know who's we?!

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