This was a big deal for me as well as for my twin brother, Chris. We were 16. At that point the only other concerts we had ever seen were Fleetwood Mac on their Rumours tour in Miami [with Kenny Loggins and Chick Corea/Return to Forever] and Kiss on their Love Gun tour at the Forum in Los Angeles – while they were taping the Alive II album. Some upstarts called Cheap Trick opened for them, and we didn’t know what to make of them…yet.
We stole our dad’s ’67 Impala one night to check out the Kinks at the Universal Amphitheater a few months before the Elton show when they were out on their “Low Budget” tour. Dad is long gone now, and we never told him about that.
Anybody who knows me is aware that Elton John has been a major part of my life since I was a child – and my number one influence as a piano player. I have seen him seven or eight times.
The 1979 show was one of two early October shows at the Hollywood Bowl – part of Elton’s Back in the USSA tour supported only by percussionist Ray Cooper. I remember tripping out that the man himself was up on that stage – living and breathing – not very far away from where I was sitting in that open-air environment. It was almost too wonderful for words.
If you ever told me that I’d be watching Elton perform on his farewell tour at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, I might not have believed it. But that’s what happened earlier this month. Call it full circle for me – forty years later. And I’ll be damned if Ray Cooper wasn’t there – this time with some of the other old guard, namely guitarist Davey Johnstone and drummer Nigel Olsson.
Elton played for three hours. It was surreal. The sound was excellent, and from our perch we had a clear view of the stage. We were far away, but smack dab in the middle of the mezzanine. The fact that this was to be the last time I would see him live made me savor each moment as best as my undiagnosed ADHD would allow. But I tried to be in the moment as much as possible. What a night!
This is the first installment of a series of blog posts about my recent trip to New York. More to come.