It all started back in July when a little concert announcement got everyone, (especially those who grew up in the ‘70s) hyped up, not only with the possibility of getting a ticket, but just the very idea that such an icon in music would grace a stage in little old Cape Breton, was something to be celebrated.
Tickets went on sale on one of my weeks of vacation and I remember setting a plan to make an attempt while knowing the odds were not on my side. On the morning of the sale I became part of a tag team of three approaches to ticket buying, each with the intent on securing three tickets and keeping each other updated on the progress throughout the morning. I was planted at my PC, connected to FaceBook, email and headphones connected to radio station so as to keep up on ‘how many tickets were left’. What had started out as a calm endeavor, had now turned into a battle of wills, as we justified this crazy situation by saying, yes it would be worth it and we don’t care if the seat is so far away that we can’t even see him, we’ll be in a building listening to Elton John, and that’s all that mattered, a once in a lifetime chance! Throughout the morning I came pretty close, actually having tickets twice all the way to that second before confirmation when I would be bumped once more out of the queue. SOLD OUT.
I was surprised by my own acceptance of the defeat, reminding myself of the numbers of people spending a morning in July in pursuit along with me. And for the next 8 weeks I had to drive through the lights at Ashby each and every morning, seeing an almost life sized Elton and two peace signs waving at me as I passed that bus shelter. And I’d think about the lucky people who had tickets and console myself that it was not the end of the world that I wouldn’t be there.
And then, on that 8th week, the unthinkable happened. We get a call from friends who said they were given two tickets to Elton John, would we like to have them? WOULD WE LIKE TO HAVE THEM?? It was 3 days before the show and though they didn’t have them in their hands they were almost certain that by the evening of the show they would be ours. With just the slightest possibility that it might fall through, I dared not share my inner excitement with a soul (a “little” bit like it must be for those who win the lottery but keep it hush hush until they collect) lest I be reduced back to publicly settling for Elton’s morning wave with commuters.
It was at 5:30 on Tuesday that we get confirmation that we are going to see Elton John and the rest of the evening is certainly one to mark off the bucket list, no matter what your age. From the moment we entered Centre 200 you could breathe in the excitement, which multiplied by thousands as each fan took their seat. The crowd was as diverse as any I have ever seen. Folks dressed up in their finest, and those taking the more casual route in shorts and sandals. There were senior citizens on the arms of boomers, and pre-teens tagging along after parents; boas and giant glasses with flashing lights, and cardboard placards adorned with Elton messages. The crowd represented five decades of music with individual memories spanning several generations—quite a remarkable distinction.
The show was an emotional roller coaster as each song brought you back to a place whose memory came to life with the words and melody. Who can recall “Crocodile Rock” at a school dance, or chanting “B-b-b-b-b-b-b-Benny and the Jets”, or believing “Your Song” really was…yours; singing to Daniel in the car; or learning about Marilyn through “Candle in the Wind”; getting Goodbye Yellow Brick Road for Christmas. He spoke of the origins of the hits, paid tribute to mentors and applauded the work of local Aids activists. His appreciation for the loyalty of fans was evident, as he made sure to acknowledge each and every section of the crowd. His humility and respect for his audience was outstanding. He’s a true class act and there’s no mystery why he has been at the centre of the business for most of his life.
The concert was amazing and such a compliment to the island as a host community for such an event. A spectacular night that I and over six thousand others will never forget….and I think Elton will have very fond memories of the warm welcome he received from the world’s greatest little island as well. It was a different drive past Ashby this morning, there was Elton, arms in the air and it was one of those “I can’t believe this all happened” moments, and one that I will treasure for a very long time to come.