The Pilgrimage Part 2: Another (captain) fantastic day!

On Sunday, November 21st, I awaken to the realization that I get to do this all over again tonight…this is going to be another (captain) fantastic day! And that’s a first for me – two nights in a row of EJ!

After a nice, relaxing morning enjoying the Daytona Beach scenery (A big blue canvas painted by the Master’s hand / The shifting clouds above and endless miles of sand) and reminiscing about the concert, Lisa and I drive 2 1/2 hours to the next venue – the Lakeland Center.  The hotel is right next to – repeat: right next to – the arena.  Which means we can wear our dancing shoes again (since we won’t have to walk very far).  Lakeland, you’ve been forewarned!

7:00 arrives and we head over to the arena…the doors were not yet open, so we decided to head back to the hotel for a drink.  Oh my!  The hotel was not prepared for the throngs of fans getting ready for the show (as if one can ever be prepared for throngs of Elton John fans).   Although it took quite some time to get a glass of wine (how hard can that be?), it was nice to share the excitement with fellow fans (and commiserate about the teeny tiny sizing of women’s concert T-shirts – I mean, who do they think Elton John fans are?).

Our Rocket Club seats were amazing!  14th row, center stage…I believe these were the second-best seats I’ve ever had at an Elton concert.  (The best were the front row, left-of-center, right in front of his piano bench seats that I had in 1982, but that deserves a blog in and of itself).  Although we did have a bit of a time figuring out how to actually get on the floor.  We almost convinced security (if that’s what you can call a 70+ year old standing guard) to let us in behind the curtains where the Elton John equipment trunks were, thinking we might get backstage, but alas…strike two…

The view from the 14th row!

As I mentioned in Part 1, I wish I had gotten up and danced to Hey Ahab and Monkey Suit during Sat-uh-day night’s concert.  I decided tonight I was going to, whether the crowd around me did or not.  So, Lisa and I turned to the people behind us and let them know that we’d probably be dancing during a couple of The Union songs.  And one of the ladies responded, “No problem. Get jiggy with it!”

And so it begins.  “Good evening, Lake Land”…(So cute! I love his accent – it’s a little bit funny the way he says things sometimes)…

Elton gets it started in here

Elton primed the crowd for how the night would unfold.  And even though I knew the set list and pretty much knew what to expect, it was STILL. JUST. AS. EXCITING. (Perhaps even more so, since you feel kind of like an insider).

Leon was extra talkative tonight, saying “Hey, how you all doing tonight” when he sat down at his piano.  And when he dedicated “A Song for You” to Elton, he must’ve spoken for a whole 2 minutes…talking about how he got a call one day, “Hey Leon, this is Elton John” and how Elton, “in his inimitable style,” convinced him to collaborate and record  The Union, “a pretty good album.”  To say the least.

The loquacious Leon

Leon’s Set (with the Leon Russell Band)

  • Tightrope
  • Prince of Peace/Out in the Woods
  • A Song for You
  • Delta Lady
  • Rolling in My Sweet Baby’s Arms

The crowd was on its feet for most of Elton’s first set – yea! That’s the way it should be.  And it was great being with other Rocket Club fans, because they knew the words to every song, just like me.

Elton’s First Set (with the Elton John Band)

  • Saturday Night’s Alright for Fightin’
  • Philadelphia Freedom
  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  • Rocket Man
  • Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
  • Bennie and the Jets
  • I’m Still Standing

Next it was time for The Union, and the crowd (as expected) was seated – although very appreciative – of the new music.  But Lisa and I did make good on our promise, and we (bit our lip and) got up and danced to Hey Ahab and Monkey Suit.  And, since there was no one in the 13 rows in front of us up and dancing, I just know that Elton saw us.  Victory!  And it was such fun – you HAVE to dance to those songs.

The Union (with the Elton John Band):

  • If it Wasn’t for Bad
  • Hey Ahab
  • Gone to Shiloh
  • Jimmie Rodgers’ Dream
  • Monkey Suit
  • The Best Part of the Day
  • A Dream Come True
  • When Love is Dying
  • Hearts Have Turned to Stone
  • Never Too Old (To Hold Somebody)
  • In the Hands of Angels

Leon got a well-deserved standing O after In the Hands of Angels – and it looked like Elton was telling him that he would miss him (this was the last date on The Union tour).  Elton just looked pleased as punch to see the appreciation and love that the crowd was sending out to Leon.

Now it was time for the final set.  I absolutely love Burn Down the Mission live.  And the improvisation before Take Me To the Pilot was as glorious as I’ve ever heard it, and I’m pretty sure it was longer than the night before.

Elton’s Second Set (with the Elton John Band):

  • Burn Down the Mission
  • Levon
  • Tiny Dancer
  • I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
  • Daniel
  • Candle in the Wind
  • Take Me to the Pilot
  • Sad Songs Say So Much
  • The Bitch is Back

And of course, the concert ends with the encore, Your Song.  Especially bittersweet this time because the pilgrimage is winding down.  And who knows when I’ll be able to see Elton live (my Mandalay) again.  But I promise to myself that I will hold this exhilaration, this abundance of spirit in my heart (and now my blog) forever.  Today, if you asked how I am, I would just say “inspired.”

The Union Tour (Lake Land, Florida – November 21, 2010)