Was it the image? The hard-to-define musical DNA? Whatever cloud of illusion I was travelling in has now been lifted. Could anyone squeeze more joyful sunrays into Cork’s annual Big Top fiesta than Mr Entertainer supreme Elton John?
His champagne repertoire is just the icing these last few balmy days deserved. Sunshine and Elton — if there is a god, the People’s Republic shall see both again one day soon.
It is hard to believe that Elton John is 70. The energy he burns up on stage has, literally, left generations of pop stars exhausted in his wake. A total pro.
At 8pm, he steps out. A quick bow, at 8:02, he’s straight into new song ‘The Bitch Is Back’. He takes the applause and at 8:05 it’s ‘Benny And The Jets’, plenty of sequins on his diamante marine evening jacket but no other frills, and absolutely no messing about.
“Good evening, Cork,” says he, with, I think, maybe a subtle attempt at a Leeside accent. “It’s good to be back. Let’s see if you remember this one.”
Eh, yes Elton, we do. It’s ‘Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues.’ The hits keep coming all night. ‘I’m Still Standing’, ‘Rocket Man’, ‘Tiny Dancer’, ‘Daniel’, plus good tracks from the current album, including (rightly!) his own favourite, ‘A Good Heart’.
Of course, he has aged a bit, his voice sometimes barks where once it might have purred, but his powers of showmanship are in no way diminished. Having parked his courtesan fop costumes of the 1970s, with this Crazy Wonderful Tonight tour (from the title of his 2016 album) he somehow manages to be just as entertaining though less flamboyant than any of his old ball gown alter egos.
However, he’s more than a song and dance man. He also broached the subject of recent terror attacks in the UK.
“It has been a weird few months in England, with Manchester, London. As a musician, all I can really do is sing a song for the families who have lost someone. We live in a funny world, and all I want to do is pray for a safer world for our children to grow up in, a world with more understanding.”
His five-piece backing band is awesome. Ready for business in sharp charcoal suits, the guitarist and keyboard guys even with matching Harry Styles-like shoulder-length grey-blond mops, a bit like how Miley Cyrus will look like when she turns 60.
Returning after one extended Elton piano solo, a few of the band members, feeling the sweltering Cork evening sunshine (if this is 2050 and you’re reading our archives, you are reading this right!) had shed the suits and ties.
"Thank you, Cork. This is one of the best places in the world to play. That's why I keep coming back," Elton said introducing the classic Candle In The Wind, his only encore.
Elton burned on like a crazy diamond. Not one bead of sweat.
Burn on, you legend. Am I a fan now? I’m off to Sequins ‘R’ Us. I’ll make my mind up when I get back home.