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Elton John World News: Preparing for Belfast

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Wednesday 27 May 1998 @ 2:00 - GMT

The finishing touches to Elton's huge Stormont stage set have been completed and all is set for a night to remember, reports the Belfast News Letter May 26, 1998.

 

Elton will fly into Belfast two hours before the May 27 concert

starts and will be on the plane back to London shortly after it

finishes.

 

The set-up consists of a huge stage, Jumbotron screens and over 60 gigantic speakers.

 

Eight 40ft trucks have converged on the venue to transport 75 tons of equipment while a further 22 trucks will deliver the sound and lighting equipment. Even Elton himself uses two trucks to transport his personal items to each venue.

 

"It's certainly an extraordinary set and the Stormont arena is the best we have played at since the world tour began five months ago," said tour manager Keith Bradley.

 

"Elton and the rest of the crew working on this concert are very aware that we are coming here at a truly historical time so we want to make this a night to remember for the Belfast crowd.

 

"Stormont is a unique site to stage such a big concert.

 

"Unlike most arenas where the crowd have to look up at the act, fans attending this concert will actually be looking down on Elton on the slope.

 

"It is totally unique in the fact that there isn't a bad view in

 the whole arena.

 

"The Stormont grounds are perfect for an event like this and

anyone attending will see how the beautiful surroundings lend

themselves to such a big event."

 

Although no support act has been announced to join Elton,

organisers are confident that most of the remaining tickets will be snapped up today.

 

"We have put out the invitation for some other names to join Elton but at the minute we are not sure of anything.

 

"The fact that Elton will be performing an extended set will

certainly attract even more fans.

 

"On the rest of the tour Elton and Billy Joel have performed for an hour each. At the Belfast concert he will be performing for around two and a half hours. It's going to be a challenge of his stamina but he thrives on that.

 

"I think fans will be attracted to the fact that they are getting a full Elton concert - rather than just an hour. This is the only part of the whole world tour where he will perform such an extensive set."

 

Efforts to set up the stage area proved difficult as the entire

Stormont site is situated on a slope: "It made things quite difficult but it is worth the extra trouble to play to a venue like this," he said.

 

"I would certainly endorse any plans to stage future music events in the grounds of Stormont even if it is not strictly a rock or pop concert.  It would be a shame to waste such a great area and not open it more to the public."

 

A crowd of 15,000 are expected to attend and weather forecasts suggest that the rain will stay away.