Elton John in Shanghai

4 Dec
The tour materials

The tour materials

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.

Elton John concert 1

Elton John Concert - 2

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.

Remember how I said most people enjoyed themselves?  This teenage kid was there with his dad.  He fell asleep about an hour in.

Remember how I said most people enjoyed themselves? This teenage kid was there with his dad. He fell asleep about an hour in.

This woman had her computer out and worked for nearly an hour and then left.  I don't think she was a fan.

This woman had her computer out and worked for nearly an hour and then left. I don’t think she was a fan.

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.

My favorite act of the night.  They were great!

My favorite act of the night. They were great! (but blurry in this photo)

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.

My coworkers at the show

My coworkers at the show

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?

9 Responses to “Elton John in Shanghai”

  1. Kristin December 4, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    You went to see Elton John, yay! A friend of mine happens to be his tour manager, so he got us backstage tickets for Elton John and Billy Joel in Seattle, and we were having a blast! I have to admit, though, that I am a much bigger Billy Joel fan than an Elton John fan… But hey, he is unique, and seeing him live was so much fun!
    Glad you enjoyed that special event!

    • gkm2011 December 4, 2012 at 7:52 am #

      It was pretty cool. Wow, you’ve seen Billy Joel live too? Both of them together must have been even more special. One of the best things is that the arena is only three subway stops away so it makes the events something that could be ordinary!

      • Carissa Hickling December 4, 2012 at 10:59 am #

        Had a flashback to a recent Mark Knopfler / Bob Dylan show Denzil and I caught in our Canada trip. Denz kept bugging me “Come on.. when next will we have a chance to see Bob?” Tickets for the Winnipeg concert were expensive and we didn’t get before leaving India. Once we reached, I mentioned my quandry to a friend in the ‘Peg who said “Can I call you back?” 30 mins later we had comps for the lower bowl (ie good seats). Thank goodness! It was one of those concerts where practically everyone seemed to be there to see him while they can… I gotta admit I’ve never been a big Bob fan but this was one seriously sad concert. Seen Mark several times and think he deliberately held back to not completely outshine his idol. Some living legends get better with age… some… well….

      • gkm2011 December 4, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

        Definitely agree, but now you can say you’ve seen Bob and I’ve see Elton. We can now move on to the next big thing (and the cello players really were awesome who opened for him).

  2. expatlingo December 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    Ha! Too funny that a woman pulled out her laptop and worked for an hour of the show!

    • gkm2011 December 4, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

      It was really funny, but you wonder if she paid for her own ticket. Or maybe she was a party official taking notes on the event!

  3. pencilreturns December 4, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    laptop part is funny

    • gkm2011 December 4, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

      Thanks, I think so too!


  1. The NBA in Shanghai | 中国 Jumble - October 25, 2014

    […] held the game at Mercedes Benz Arena – the last time I was there was when I went to the Elton John concert a couple of years ago.  This time I realized that the Chinese name is actually Mercedes […]

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