It felt like the whole county was on high alert when Elton John came to the Eden Project to play his first Cornish gig in 30 years.
To say expectations were running high would be an understatement. When the show was announced back in November tickets sold out within a couple of hours. Now a pumped up crowd veering wildly from sixteen to septogenerian packed out Eden’s natural amphitheatre waiting for their first glimpse of Elton’s helicopter.
Everyone has a favourite Elton John song, even the most acerbic of cynics.
Eden founder Sir Tim Smitt summed it up perfectly when he said, whether you think you’re a fan or not, Elton has provided the soundtrack to most people’s lives.
It was a surprisingly understated, jazzy kind of beginning which reminded us what an incredible piano player Elton is but probably wasn’t exactly what the crowd were looking for. By the third song, however, we were into Candle in the Wind.
It’s impossible not to hear this song without recalling him singing it at Princess Diana’s funeral, that day’s undeniable pathos moment.
Seeing Elton at his piano singing ‘Goodbye Norma Jean…’ that famous bluesy voice just as powerful four decades later, for me encapsulated what all the excitement had been about - he really is a legend in the truest sense of the word. There’s the 40 year parade of hits, the sequinned diva dramas, the friendships in high places, the drugs, the flowers, Elton is indelibly stamped on the national psyche.
A word for the backdrop. I don’t think you could find a more spectacular setting than the Eden Project with its biomes lit up and flashing like disco balls. It was quite literally magical.
Occasionally I have friends in high places myself, so I watched my favourite Elton song Tiny Dancer standing at the side of the stage. Just six feet away was the guitarist Davey Johnston with his brilliantly 80s long peroxide hair and of course a direct line to Elton at his piano. Have to say it was right up there on greatest ever gig moments.
High points? So many. The set continued to build and build and by the time he got to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, the crowd were singing every word.
There was something very emotional about this show, partly. I think, the intimacy of the setting – Eden has a maximum capacity of 6000 – and partly because Elton is at the end of his career and gigs like this are unlikely to come along again. In fact he hinted that he might retire soon saying he wanted to spend more time watching his sons grow up.
The last ten minutes of the show were blinding – I’m Still Standing, Your Sister Can’t Twist, Saturday and then Crocodile Rock as the encore. He might be 67, he might be a bit more stationary than in his Seventies hey day but Elton still knows how to deliver a great party.
There’s much to love about living in the West Country, but, for me, Elton John at the Eden Project just shot to number one.