In days of old, knights would sit around and regale the masses with stories of their accomplishments, whilst minstrels and jesters performed. Tonight however, the tables have turned. A real life modern day knight, Sir Elton John, performs for us, while the minstrels and jesters of this crowd will tell this tale until their dying days. This certainly is a ‘Once In A Lifetime’ performance.
When first learning of Sir Elton’s tour of regional areas of Australia, i was taken aback. Not knowing why he would choose such shows or how he could fill the venues planned. It was obvious the moment i stepped on the plane from Brisbane, 90% of the people onboard were travelling from far and wide to bear witness to one of the most influential performers of the modern age. A showman like no other and a love for his fans that it is unequaled, Sir Elton delivers a performance tonight that was reminiscent of his early days in the business.
Local Rockhampton duo Busby Marou has been chosen as our best and brightest to kick things off for Mr Fantastic. The pairing of Thomas Busby and Jeremy Marou, is exactly what is required to warm up the crowd. A mixture of gentle, acoustic, lullaby-esque melodies coupled with some groove inducing up tempo toe tappers, these boys put on a solid performance to get the crowd ready for Elton’s imminent arrival. Telling the crowd they have “the best job in the world for the next couple of weeks”, you can hear the excitement and elation in Busby’s voice as they give their all into each and every song as they serenade the masses.
Smashing onto the stage, Sir Elton delivers the mother of all opening tracks with ‘The Bitch Is Back’. The 15,000 strong crowd of BB Print Stadium Mackay jumps to their feet, showing the regal guest that his attendance is appreciated to no end. With a very short break between the first two songs, we leap head first into ‘Benny and the Jets’ as the patrons settle in for one of the best, smash hit filled setlists that we will ever get to see in person.
Bringing it down a notch, after a thank-you to one and all, we slowly sink into the beauty that is ‘I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues’, with everyone echoing the chorus right back at Sir Elton much to his delight.
Being at a performance of this magnitude is awe inspiring. To know that he has been doing this for so many years and still delivers a show that would make even the most flawless performer envious, is jaw dropping. It’s not until you’re in the presence of greatness that you can truly appreciate the work that has gone into such an extensive career. The sheer energy that radiates off the crowd is amazing in its own, with everyone feeding off of each others positivity until you can’t help but be consumed by the music.
Every song’s a smash hit. We’re treated to more recent songs such as ‘Looking Up’ and ‘A Good Heart’, but a great of this calibre knows what the crowd wants to hear. We’re treated to a piano performance like no other, giving us the perfect demonstration as to why he is the best at what he does. He tickles the ivories like some of us breathe, effortlessly and flawlessly. He almost makes it look easy. ‘Rocket Man’ and ‘Tiny Dancer’ are obviously high on everyone’s list as they both launch one of the most tremendous sing alongs i have ever had the good fortune to witness. Its eerily haunting to hear the chorus of the former sung by such a large crowd, the open air setting ensuring that all of Mackay gets an earful of our pristine vocal chords that are sure to be aching in the morning.
By the time we’ve got through a touching tribute to his close friend George Michael in ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me’, Sir Elton knows that it’s time to shake loose all the restraints and get this gathering really moving. Giving us the trifecta of ‘I’m Still Standing’, ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’ and ‘Crocodile Rock’, security couldn’t do anything to stop us from getting right up to the stage and showing our honoured guest why Mackay has the best dance moves, energy and love for Sir Elton and his band.
After a brief step backstage, he emerges once more to not only sign some autographs for the privileged few that managed to get all the way to the front but to give us one final hurrah with the ever beautiful and timeless ‘Candle In The Wind’. We sing along in unison, delivering our best performance possible to show the Duke of Dazzle that the love for him and his band is alive and plentiful in Northern Queensland.
We shuffle back to the shuttle buses, all the while engaging perfect strangers in conversation to see the elation in their eyes as they comprehend the massive 2 hour performance that we all shared together, spanning an extensive 5 decade long career that is Sir Elton John. It definitely was a ‘Once In A Lifetime’ performance, one of which i shall remember and cherish for the rest of my days on this great earth. Sir Elton, we love you.
Photos by JD Garrahy