Sir Elton John at Ford Arena, Beaumont, 3/12/2014
"My first show was in 1974, and the tickets were $7.50 then. A lot has changed since then."
The man sitting next to me, Jeff Young, has now seen Elton John play 165 times, and is beaming as he recalls his encounters with the artist. On the other hand, that news floored me.
This was my first time at an Sir Elton John concert, and I drove 90 miles to Beaumont to see him. There is no Houston stopover on this tour behind last year's The Diving Board, but perhaps Beaumont was due for a visit. After all, it had been 14 years since he last played here.
As I chatted with Young about his Elton John memories, the folks behind me were trying to reassure a friend stuck in traffic that perhaps Sir Elton would wait.
"I bet it won't start. There's traffic backed up all around here," the man said with a soothing drawl. "I bet they're just gonna hold it up."
Then came a crash of ivory keys, and the one and only Sir Elton John.
As he led into the first notes of the opening song, "Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding," we were aghast. I've always known that John was a living legend, but watching him nearly destroy his piano from the moment he took the stage, all while hitting every single brilliant note, was surreal. I'm still a bit in shock.
I was even more in shock when John emerged from behind his piano after the first song, playfully bit his tongue, and then proceeded to place his foot atop the box beside him to survey the crowd, which reacted by going absolutely insane.
I understand their gusto, though; I've never seen such a fantastically talented artist onstage. With every move, every gesture and every song, I wondered if John wasn't close to ripping the keys off the piano.
Things would only go uphill from there. The first notes of "Bennie and the Jets" rang out in earnest once he shimmied back behind the piano, and the entire arena roared with approval. Even the big, burly cowboys in the audience joined in.
Review continues on the next page.