The Rocketman came and he delivered. An adventure to see Elton Johns last show was going to be epic and much more fun because I was with my mother. For four days I was having a holiday, being told to eat more and seeing Elton John in Lille…
What was the event?
Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
The tour was going to be a tour like no other. Because this would his last ever tour. For me to see an Elton John concert was a personal bucket list but now to spend it with my mother was even better.
What happened at the event?
Lights dimmed at 20:07 and the appearance of a sole figure from stage right sent the packed arena at Stade Pierre Murrouy into an absolute frenzy. Walking on to the stage was the legend of Elton John. He walked over to the piano and without a word said – he spoke to the audience through music. The hairs on my arms lifted and swayed (not literally) to the music as his show was beginning as he was ending his “career”.
Elton John has been an idol of mine since I was a wee boy. I loved his music, his personality and also the fact he wrote the music for Lion King. I had never been able to go to a show. But when I saw the dates would align with Mother Lamb arriving to Paris – I thought THIS IS FATE. I got two tickets and I was immediately excited. It was all a surprise. Mother Lamb had no idea. But also I had no idea until 3 weeks ago that the concert was actually no where near Paris. It was in Lille. Excellent. With a quick change of plans it all worked. That’s a story you can read in my book next year.
The night was full of more than just songs. It was packed with emotional. The programme, which cost 25 Euros, was more than an encyclopedia of his life – it was an opportunity to see the impact Elton John has had to music and also on society. Creatively the show was simple with Elton his bands and large screens but it was more than that. The videos being played and that had been created were fitting into the stories and making the song more than just a song. Videos included some of his past work from the Aids Foundation. Some had black roses being broken bit by bit. Some had the original music video including Tiny Dancer, which only had a music video released for the first time two years ago.
But lets go back to the start. Lets go to the arrival to the arena – walking from the train station we arrived at 18:15 and Elton was on stage – no warm up act – at 20:00. The train station was full of police and security waiting for the thousands to arrive while me and my mum came off a carriage with five people on it. The undercover police were being briefed and the information team at the train station were having a quick bite to eat. Standard calm before the chaos.
Signage wise – nothing special unfortunately. The security guard (probably last time be a good compliment regarding security) was trying to ease the people waiting. I stood with my programme and he asked have I been a fan for long. That is a simple question it does a million things and it did. I was smiling and it was a positive process to get me relaxed and ready for the show. Not many security processes think about things like that. Nothing else had been put in to create a “exceptional customer journey” which was unfortunate but one of these things.
Elton highlighted that this was his 50th year of touring. He had been on a blessed and incredible journey. You could tell that this speech, although he says it in every city he goes to, really does have an impact on him. He will miss it because touring was and is a big part of the success he has had. However, in his programme he highlights he will not give up on writing music and songs –but he will not be touring and if he ever did a show it would be where he lives.
As someone who enjoys to consume music – Elton Johns concert was not only a farewell concert. It was the end of a certain generation of artists. A time when artists were “Partists” and music had something special in peoples lives. When stadiums were sold out and would be on the front page of the newspapers the next day. When music was the release people needed after work and together as family and friends. Although still its all about family and friends after talking to a few people they say “music concerts…have an expiry date”…interesting point. You will be able to read more about this point in my book next year. “Around the World in 80 Events” in all very good book shops.
One thing to take away…
Playing music to thousands of people is an honor. People give there money because they like you, want to experience what you produce and so on. Events producers need to remember that the perfect journey is about ensuring you keep the value of the product that high…and that’s exactly what Elton John did.