Page 33 - Simply Abu Dhabi Magazine VI

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W
hen we heard the news that Sir Elton John would be
performing at Yas Island in March with the renowned
percussionist Ray Cooper, we were absolutely thrilled.
Elton is quite simply a once in a lifetime singer-songwriter: a much
loved musician of huge talent.
Elton (he’s such a much-loved figure that it seems only appropriate to
call him by his first name!), is one of the most respected musicians in
the world, and has performed with a huge number of people over the
years. A former student of the Royal Academy of Music in London, he
left school and immediately began his path in the music industry. His
first band, Bluesology, was formed in 1961. He met Bernie Taupin in
1967 and in 1968 the duo became staff songwriters for Dick James'
DJM label, farming out music to budding pop stars. Elton and Taupin
went on to work a huge amount together, creating over thirty albums
and developing an incredibly close understanding. By the time of
Elton's self-titled breakthrough album and evergreen hit Your Song in
1970, it was said that Bernie could present Elton with a lyric and he
could compose to it within the hour.
Elton has also performed with many other musicians, including those
of the stature of John Lennon. But despite this hugely impressive
history, his partnership with Ray Cooper is something special. Cooper
is a brilliant musician in his own right, renowned as one of the greatest
ever rock percussionists: he has performed with musicians like George
Harrison and Eric Clapton, and has been developing a musical
understanding with Elton since they toured together in the seventies.
Then, as now, the beauty of the voice, piano and percussion
combination is its simplicity: it allows the sheer quality of the songs to
shine through.
An incredibly moving performance
We had come with thousands of other fans to Abu Dhabi’s fantastic Yas
Island venue. In the last three years this place has welcomed over 50
artists and 2 million fans through its gate – and with performances like
this, you can see why. When Elton began to play his biggest hits – like
‘Rocket Man’ and ‘Daniel’ - the crowd went delirious. It’s almost
impossible to pick a top moment from a performance that was packed
to the brim with star quality. But if I had to choose one, it would be
when Elton sang “Don’t let the sun go down on me”. It was written in
1974 and has lost none of its emotional power since then. Although it’s
been covered by countless artists, to see it sung by its original author is
incredibly moving. There are fewmusicians in the world who combine
this kind of writing and performing ability.
Elton has been doing both for four decades - and he has been rightfully
recognised for his achievements. He has made seven consecutive No.
1 US albums, 56 UK Top 40 singles and nine No. 1 single hits. He has
won six Grammy Awards, four Brit Awards, an Academy Award, a
Golden Globe Award and a Tony Award. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked
him 49th among the 100 greatest artists of all time.
Wow! It’s no surprise that Elton was inducted into the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame in 1994. Nor that he received a knighthood fromQueen
Elizabeth II for "services to music and charitable services" in 1998.
These honours are fully deserved. But when you see Elton perform,
what strikes you most of all is his continuing enthusiasm for the stage.
It’s a pure delight in music that transfers itself to everyone in the room.
His enthusiasm seems the same as it was back in the
seventies when he broke through as a young singer-
songwriter.
Music that has never aged
The event was organised by FLASH entertainment
and despite the capacity crowd, everything went
without a hitch. After the evening, FLASH
Entertainment said “Elton John was fantastic, and the
understanding he and Ray Cooper have really makes
this show unique.”
We can certainly agree with that. There seemed to be a
feeling among everyone there that we were watching
a truly exceptional musician in action, as we sang and
danced along with the other fans to Elton’s hits. We
met Marcia from New York, who had come from
Dubai, and who said: “This is my third Elton John
concert. I’ve seen him twice in the US. This is the first
time I see him with Ray Cooper… I am very excited”.
Everyone seemed to be lost in the moment: it’s not
every day that you get to see someone who has written
the best-selling single ever perform live. But the
success of 1997’s Candle in the Wind - a song re-
written to mark the death of Princess Diana that has
sold over 33 million copies worldwide - illustrates how
Elton has gone from strength to strength in recent
years.
In the nineties, Elton established the Elton John AIDS
Foundation, a pioneering charity dedicated to
breakthrough work on behalf of those around the world suffering from
HIV and related illnesses. He went on to release the double platinum
album The One. Through his collaboration with Tim Rice on music
for Disney's The Lion King, he gained not only a Best male pop
Grammy but also his first Academy Award. Elton has since collaborated
with Tim Rice again on the Broadway smash Aida. 2005’s Billy Elliot
TheMusical, withmusic by Elton John and lyrics by Lee Hall, was also
staggeringly successful with both audiences and critics.
Perhaps the crowning moment of Elton’s career was following the
release of Rocket Man – a collection of his biggest hits – inMarch 2007,
when he celebrated his 60th birthday with an absolutely astonishing
60th concert at the legendary Madison Square Garden in New York.
No other entertainer has come close to matching this record.
We were truly privileged to see Elton John perform: this was the kind
of night you remember for the rest of your life. Watching him makes
you realise that his music really has never aged. It has the power to
transcend boundaries and appeal across generations. Having
experienced this incredible performance, we’re sure that it will remain
relevant and popular with fans for many years more to come. In short,
we can’t wait for him to come to Abu Dhabi again!
For more information on Sir Elton John please visit:
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