I once wrote a joke headline about Prince playing Widnes Labour Club to illustrate something highly improbable.
Then Elton John announced he would be coming to town and playing at the home of Widnes Vikings and suddenly that headline didn’t seem that funny.
Elton, with his Vegas residency and 300 million worldwide record sales, would surely not be pitching up in Lowerhouse Lane.
Not THE Elton John. Has to be a tribute act.
And yet, at exactly 7pm on Sunday June 18th, there he was. Emerging into the sunshine from the side of the stage in a long sparkly jacket to a rapturous ovation and launching into a beefy version of The Bitch is Back.
I was moved to comment that it was the weirdest thing I’d ever seen.
After a couple of songs he greeted the crowd with the words `Good evening Widnes’ and the weirdest thing I’d ever seen title had lasted for just eight minutes. We had a new winner.
Twenty-four hours after watching Guns n Roses tear it up at the London Stadium I was near enough in my own back yard watching someone who could scoff at the 100 million units they’ve shifted and point to seven number one albums in the US in one incredible three-year period, Tony, Grammy and Academy Awards and just about every other honour the music world can bestow.
And he was really good.
Not in a life-changing, blowing the roof off (metaphorically speaking as the Select Security Stadium has no roof) OMG what have I just seen kind of way. But in a professional, honed, perfectly judged, hit-laden kind of way.
He delivered sincere tributes to George Michael and those killed in the terrible incidents that had shaken London and Manchester, and also to the thousands who were in attendance.
Elton’s songs are the part of the the very fabric of the 70s and 80s and he treated us to a fair selection. Your Song, Rocket Man, Philadelphia Freedom, Daniel, Tiny Dancer, Sad Songs, I’m Still Standing – the list just grew and grew.
He ended with a solo version of Candle in the Wind, the crowd swayed and then he was gone.
But he’d really been there…hadn’t he?