Guest blog by Mark Kull
Kimoreena has attended, nay, devoured twenty-three Elton concerts. Lisa, our sister and HER faithful wine smuggler, now can count seven, without a single arrest. Cindy, another sister (gosh, how many more can there possibly be?) was gently coerced to attend one. Even brother Paul has literally rubbed elbows with Sir Elton as he was part of the military security detail assigned to Hillary Clinton’s fiftieth birthday bash. I may now proudly boast of two.
Continuing the numbers theme… four thousand seven hundred and thirty-nine refers to the number of days between my experiences. Both were official event openings of new or refurbished arenas. The first was Philips arena in Atlanta on September 24, 1999; we surprised Kimoreena with tickets while she was in town on business. One of the first performances of the Medusa Tour, the arena setting became intimate… just Elton, his piano, and twenty thousand of his closest friends (and me). I recall not being particularly enthusiastic about attending the show, my interest in Elton tempered by memories of an adolescence in which sister number three commandeered the phonograph and Elton dominated the playlist. Much to my delight (and chagrin) I was awed by the musicianship (less the over-the-top showmanship of my youth) and by the exuberance with which my sister absorbed the show. Elton, the part-time Atlanta resident was on point and as charming as any life-long southern gentleman. Although not on the set list that night and written well before he put down roots in the A-T-L, an excerpt that reminds me of that evening, the beginnings of an interest in his entire body of work, and my time spent there…
Oh Georgia take me to your Southlands
I sometimes feel that life has passed me by
Oh Georgia lead me through your heartlands
I need to see them one more time before I die
— Georgia (1978)
The second was the Sun Dome in Tampa on September fourteenth of this year. The headline from Gabe Echazabal’s review (CL Tampa Bay) “Elton John Doesn’t Let the Sun Dome Down” is descriptive of both the power-packed production and the energy exchanged between performer and crowd. With a full ensemble, the additional percussion, vocals, and strings, it was the perfect complement to the one-man show from thirteen years prior. AND one of the back-up vocalists, Rose Stone, is a founding member of Sly and the Family Stone… Fuh-git-a-bow-dit! If only the Teflon-topped Sun Dome could have held up its acoustical end of the bargain. I enjoy the “hits”, of course, but I found myself wanting for more of the obscure tracks as my knowledge of his catalogue has been expanded thanks to Kimoreena subtly sending me a starter kit of EJ albums and sporadic additions arriving via Amazon from time to time. Also noted is the diversity of his fan base as every segment of society was excitedly represented there (including two sisters who never ceased “getting jiggy with it” throughout the entire show). Needless to say, I enjoyed every second of it… all nine thousand seven hundred and eighty of them.
Songs with numbers in the title, for your considerATION…