Picture this : Dubai...24 degrees...Perfect breeze...Sir Elton appearsIt is October 31, 2002. No mirage, it really happened!
Dressed in the usual Versace uniform with a diamond (?)-laced jacket with the trademark Medusa at the back, Elton makes his entrance to the instrumental of Aida.
He appears tired, puffy-eyed and, yes, quite tense.
The fact is that he arrived the night before at midnight on his private jet (along with his 600 suits, 120 pairs of tailor-made shoes and 60 pairs of sunglasses that we all know of), from New-York (10-12 hour flight on top of the 10 hour time-difference!).
He started off with Your Song, maybe to break the ice (in Dubai? no pun intended).
"Hello Dubai! Its taken me quite a while to come here but I finally made it!
He was scheduled to come to a private party for the Dubai Air Show last year, which got cancelled as the aviation industry was in a no-party mood after 9/11
Then came Border Song, Greatest Discovery and Someone Saved my Life Tonight to finish off the Classics.
On to Ballad of the Boy in the red shoes to introduce the new album. he carried on with Daniel and Honky Cat. (One of my friends misunderstood and thought the song was called Horny Cat.bless her)
Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters followed a hearty rendition of Rocket Man with a great vocal ending. Where does he get this vocal power from, one wonders
He then decided to rock the audience with Im Still Standing which was well received.
Tiny Dancer calmed the atmosphere down a bit as well as I want Love.
Nikita appeared to be quite welcome, followed by Philadelphia Freedom, but it was Candle in the Wind, which got, of course, the biggest roar so far! Another no1 hit ensued with Sacrifice.
Sorry seems to be the hardest word was as awesome as ever, followed by I guess thats why they call it the blues.
Two of Eltons (and mine) favourite songs of the new album were introduced, ie Original sin and This Train dont stop here anymore.
The mood then switched on to a reflective mode with Carla/Etude and Tonight and then gained pace with Take me to the Pilot and Benny and the Jets.
The finale was obviously Crocodile Rock which got the 14000 souls on their feet.
This is when he admitted that he was quite nervous tonight, (quite unusually) coming to a new country, as he did not know what to expect but called it a magnificent country.
Dont Let The Sun Go Down On Me was I guess one of the favourites judging by the number of people who beautifully sang along.
He then said that prior to coming here, he had heard a lot of political noises, which he brushed aside to realise how welcome he had been. But I judge people by the way the behave and Ive been made so welcome here and looked after so well, God Bless Dubai!
Thank God, that means hell be back!
He concluded the show with a song that changed his life, appropriately called : Circle of Life.
So 2 and a half hours and 26 songs later (the show was supposed to last only 1.5 hour), (not bad then! He must have enjoyed himself, in fact the more he played, the more relaxed he looked), he made his way back to the Fairmont Hotel where a 5-bedroom suite awaits him, set on 2 levels for him to choose from and 4 jaccuzis with leather chairs (?).
He will also have a guarded rooftop and a barbecue patio. There will be a fully-functional kitchen and a personal butler on standby 24 hours inside his suite, as well as special hangers for his Versace clothes. There is a specific request for flowers to be changed every day. The hotel is liaising with Paris to have them flown in. He will require special temperatures for himself, his clothes and voice. His diet would include white-flour food, no fat and no fresh juices. There also obviously is a private lift straight to his floor.
No wonder he felt welcome!
I had seen a few solo shows before (indoors) and sometimes missed the band for the great punch it adds, but he was so into it tonight that he was a full orchestra on his own! And his voice was also in top shape, as well as his piano-playing.
The audience was very patient with the old/new slow songs, receptive and appreciative. Overall, a great atmosphere reigned. The only downside was that the first two or 3 rows were cordoned off not for VIPs, but VVIPS (some real ones, some for one night only), preventing him from having a real interaction with his real fans! And we all know he hates that! But I guess money ruled the way here (at $550 a seat), not only music!
What a schedule, just landed from New-York, hes off tomorrow to India where he plays at the Palace Grounds in Bangalore on November 2, 2002
But "I Guess Thats Why They Call him : Madman Across the Water!
This was my ninth EJ concert and the only problem I have now is thatIve got to make it ten now, really, for, what a night it was!
The complete set list of the Dubai show on October 31, 2002:
- Your Song
- Border Song
- The Greatest Discovery
- Someone Saved My Life Tonight
- Ballad Of The Boy In The Red Shoes
- Honky Cat
- Rocket Man
- Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
- I'm Still Standing
- Tiny Dancer
- I Want Love
- Philadelphia Freedom
- Candle In The Wind
- Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
- I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues
- Original Sin
- This Train Don't Stop There Anymore
- Take Me To The Pilot
- Bennie And The Jets
- Crocodile Rock
- Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me
- Circle of Life