|Sir Elton conquers Tobago |
By VASHTY MAHARAJ Tuesday, May 1 2007
AFTER weeks of gay-bashing by some pastors who were against his performance, which left an air of unease in the sister-isle, international pop icon Sir Elton John conquered Tobago at the Plymouth Jazz Festival on Sunday, in a 90-minute performance that left some in tears and others dancing in gay abandon to his music.
Sir Elton’s performance brought the curtain down on the three-day festival which saw some of pop and rhythm and blues’ hottest international acts performing before thousands. On Sunday, the crowd was estimated at 15,000 and every single one of them was held captive by Sir Elton’s music.
Some shed tears, others stood on their seats, some swayed to the music, some went into full ballroom dancing. And everywhere you could hear them singing along as if Sir Elton walked with his own choir for the night.
Yes, somewhere out there someone was saying a prayer for the soul of the man, but it was Sir Elton’s night. He came, he sang and he conquered. And his soul, well it was alive and well and in full song.
Wearing a massive cross around his neck as if in refutation of all the drama that had gone before, Elton John kicked off his performance with “Philadelphia Freedom” followed in swift order by super hits including “Benny and the Jets”, “Daniel”, an amazing rendition of “Rocket man”, “Candle In The Wind”, “Sacrifice” and others.
Dressed in black tails and adorned in what must have been thousands of US dollars worth of jewelry, the “piano man” performed for a solid one-and-a-half hours, his voice as clear and strong as it ever was, the resonant tones bringing all to their feet as together they went on a musical journey with him.
Roars of approval went up for each and every song as the audience connected with times and spaces in their lives. When Elton sang his life-affirming hit “I’m Still Standing” people were on their feet with hands in the air as if acknowledging that indeed he had survived and triumphed. And after his signature finale songs of “The Bitch is Back” and “Saturday Night’s Alright”, Elton returned to the stage for an encore performance with “Your Song” which he dedicated to the Caribbean people and particularly those from Montserrat where he had written the words and music. As he sang the poignant words “I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words, how wonderful life is while you’re in the world,” the crowd screamed in appreciation, returning the compliment.
The night belonged to Elton. He was the man they all came to see, all 15,000 of them. But, of course there were the other performances of the night that also blew the crowd away.
Al Green was the first international act on stage and he decided it was time for a Tobago revival as he called on the crowd to say “Amen” and made frequent references to Jesus. The pastor also did a rendition of “Amazing Grace” along with some of his hits, reminding the crowd that many of them had been conceived to the sound of his music.
Earth Wind & Fire erupted onto the stage with an energy and passion that amazed and stunned the audience given the amount of time that they have been around. Machel Montano whose soca energy is already legendary in this country was also a hit and although he lost most of the crowd after Sir Elton’s performance, and the more than one hour-long delay between sets, it was he more than anyone else, who had the unruly VIP section practically pushing down the barriers at the stage as they wined and jammed to his frenetic melodies.