The Friday after Thanksgiving Elton John and his entourage swarmed into Shanghai. He is a legend – and since I had the opportunity I decided to go to his concert. I put it into the same category as to when I got to see Tony Bennett at Ravinia a few years ago in Chicago. One of my coworkers knows a “professional ticket reseller” and managed to get us seats on the floor for a reasonable price.
Mercedes Benz Arena (the same place that I rocked to Maroon 5 in September) was rocking, but there were still empty seats which was a little strange. I think part of it may be that Elton John’s career spans the opening up and development of China, so the majority of his music catalogue are pretty much unknown here.
While at the show I did a little research (smart phones are incredible). Sir Elton John is 65 – whereas the average 65 year old Chinese citizen has gone through the cultural revolution and the Great Leap Forward which don’t seem to be things that you mention in the same breath as Elton John. His flamboyance with that age group is not necessarily a positive difference.
That said there were lots of foreigners out in force and folks seemed to (for the most part) enjoy the show. It was a more sedate concert, so we didn’t need to stand for the entire three hours. Elton John is a great performer – he performed for nearly 2.5 hours straight without a break and we got to hear lots of his greatest hits.
My favorite part of the concert though wasn’t Elton, it was the opening act. He had two cello players (2 Cellos) who did some amazing things. They covered Michael Jackson, U2 and a couple of other hits, using only two cellos. It was a great start to the evening.
Elton himself, despite the energy level, he didn’t sound as good as in my head and on my iPod. I could tell that his voice can’t hit the high notes that I love to listen to in Rocket Man (which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year) and the acoustics in the stadium just didn’t do his voice justice. The guitars and bass overpowered him and I left with a headache, which was unfortunate. I still had a really good time, but I wouldn’t pay to see him again.
It was a nice start though to the holiday season – getting out and dancing in the aisle and running for the last subway train will make it a night I won’t soon forget. The singing – well, that came in second for once.
Have you heard someone live that just didn’t hit you the way they record? I never want to see John Mayer live because I’ve seen his videos and when he sings – to me – it’s just not attractive. Is there anyone else on your list?