The weather was overcast but stable as the open air concert kicked off. Not a night for the casual fan or someone on their first ever outside concert.
The audience had wisely dressed for temperatures more associated with November not June. It is cold, very cold. Dark clouds and damp air pervades the venue. This is as far as you can get from the warm Florida air Elton normally performs in.
The large stage perched on the edge of the Promenade looks like a galleon which had beached.
Half a mile from the venue a rock band plays in the Blue Room pub; no doubt annoyed that sound from Elton’s gig is floating through the windows of their venue.
Close to St John’s church a busker valiantly plays his set against the background sound of Elton’s gig which is only half a mile away. I smile at him in acknowledgment of his determination.
Many people outside of the venue are huddled in doorways, some take refuge from the wind in small sheds conveniently built by the construction workers but now occupied by Elton’s loyal following.
On the promenade in front of the Blackpool Tower, beyond the perimeter fence, a few tramps and drunks mingle with hundreds of people of all ages. There are men and women in their sixties who are decked out in storm weather gear listening to the gig. Alongside them are guys and girls in their twenties and thirties, small children, babies in prams, stag nights and hen parties all share a narrow space on the pavement; a few huddle into the makeshift wooden shelters which are there to stop people crashing into the scaffolding.
Elton rolls through the repertoire which his worldwide fans know.
‘Bennie and the Jets’
‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’
This is a small gig with many of the audience in prime positions for good sound. Those standing, only forty yards from the stage, are in the same position the sound engineer occupies at a stadium gig.
Rain starts to fall and the wind picks up. The covers on the stage start to rattle and give off noises which anyone on the Golden Hind or Mayflower would have been familiar with. The stage flaps which had a gentle rattle at the start now became ominous and threatening.
Elton continues to roll seamlessly through his and Bernie Taupin’s hits before a force six to seven wind blows up and the police abandon the gig after two hours for safety reasons.
The police were right to call a halt to the action. No doubt some of the public would have moaned but with the force of the wind hitting the back of the stage and blowing toward the crowd it was beginning to look dangerous. I suspect no one from security wanted the lighting gantry being blown toward fifteen thousand people.
The musicians and backing singers were a tight band and played well, ‘Funeral for a Friend’ and the seamless segue into ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ was exceptional; and unlike some of his contemporaries Elton’s voice is holding up well.
For the faint hearted it was not the best of weather to be sitting on the promenade. You needed determination and passion to attend this gig and for those who did they were rewarded with an excellent concert.
Other songs played (selection)
It was a night for Dunkirk spirits and people who like their music live and not played to them through a computer with a lip synching singer.