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|Elton ‘helps save boy from Ukraine conflict’
Sunday, August 31 2014
Elton is believed to have helped the rescue of a six-year-old boy from the conflict in Ukraine.
Lev Ageyev, six, his brother Artyom, seven, and their grandmother Yulia Ageyeva were rushed out of the port city of Mariupol in a 740 km dash arranged by a foundation run by Elton’s close friend, socialite Olena Franchuk.
Elton has known Lev since attempting to adopt him in 2009. At the time he was unable to defy laws in Ukraine barring gay couples from adoption.
The rescue mission on August 30, 2014 took place as protesters in the city formed a human chain of more than 1000 people demanding that pro-Russian forces keep out.
Elton’s representative declined to comment, but it is believed Elton and David were involved.
Speaking from near Kiev, Mrs Ageyeva said: “I thank God for whoever helped us.”
Grandmother of Lev pleas for any help from Elton
Tuesday, May 13 2014 at 06:06:14
Sir Elton can have Lev ... if I can come too
Tuesday, October 6 2009 at 18:36:19
Elton John could become Ukrainian baby Lev's 'guardian'
Friday, September 18 2009 at 07:35:26
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|"Captain Fantastic" show in 2015
Friday, August 29 2014
Hercules has learned that Elton is planning to perform a series of special concerts in the US and UK in 2015.
These shows will celebrate 40 years since the release of "Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy" and Elton is expected to play most songs from that signature album.
Below you will find the unconfirmed draft set list that is currently under discussion. You can tell from its length that it will be shortened by the time of the concerts. Rehearsals are rumoured to take place in January 2015. While no exact dates and venues are known at this point in time, Madison Square Garden in New York and a venue in London are more or less confirmed.
Following is the draft set list for the "Captain Fantastic" shows in 2015:
- Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy
- Bitter Fingers
- Tell Me When The Whistle Blows
- Someone Saved My Life Tonight
- (Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket
- Better Off Dead
- We All Fall In Love Sometimes
- Your Song (solo)
- The One (solo)
- Grey Seal
- Where To Know St. Peter?
- Ballad Of A Well-Known Gun
- Take Me To The Pilot
- High Flying Bird
- Indian Sunset
- I Don't Wanna Go On With You Like That
- Blues Never Fade Away
- The Bridge
- Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters
- Rocket Man
- Come Down In Time
- All The Girls Love Alice
- Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
- Empty Garden
- Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
- I'm Still Standing
- The Bitch Is Back
- Crocodile Rock
- Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting
- Funeral For A Friend
- Love Lies Bleeding
- Candle In The Wind
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|Ice Bucket Challenge for Elton
Saturday, August 23 2014
Members of Kiss and Def Leppard closed out their show on August 22, 2014 by executing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge onstage at Klipsch Music Center.
The rock bands then called out some of the biggest names in music to join the fundraiser that's generated more than $53 million in donations to theALS Association.
Kiss vocalist Paul Stanley challenged Elton John, Rod Stewart and alternative-medicine advocate Deepak Chopra. Def Leppard vocalist Joe Elliott challenged Prince, U2 and Whitesnake vocalist David Coverdale.
After the show, Paul Stanley posted a picture of his band in the midst of the challenge, while announcing that their efforts had raised $10,000.
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|Woodside "End of Summer" Party
Saturday, August 23 2014
The Elton John Aids Foundation (EJAF) is looking forward to welcoming exclusive guests to the Woodside ‘End of Summer’ Party in association with Chopard on September 4, 2014.
It is going to be a fun party and a great opportunity for friends to regroup after the long summer break and enjoy delicious and fantastic food, entertainment and music, all within the gardens of Elton and David’s Windsor home.
Elton has been very busy organising an amazing line-up of “pop-up” performers for the evening including Gary Barlow, Tom Odell, James Blunt, Chrissie Hynde, Alfie Boe and of course, Elton himself.
To end the night EJAF will be unveiling an extraordinary night club, Grey Goose La Nuit des Étoiles, with a live set from Fat Boy Slim. Follow all the updates on social media by following #WoodsideParty.
Elton cancels his white tie and tiara party
Thursday, June 26 2014 at 06:21:56
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|"Billy Elliot The Musical" live in cinemas (update)
Tuesday, August 19 2014
On September 28, 2014, Billy Elliot the Musical will reach a whole new audience when a special performance of the show is broadcast live from the Victoria Palace Theatre in London’s West End to cinemas across the UK and around the world.
Tickets to see Billy Elliot the Musical Live in cinemas across the UK and Ireland can be purchased via BillyElliotLive.co.uk. Tickets for the special performance of the show itself, which begins at 2pm, are available via the Victoria Palace Theatre box office.
To date, screenings have been announced in the countries listed below. Further international screenings will be announced shortly.
"Billy Elliot The Musical" live in cinemas
Saturday, June 14 2014 at 17:31:58
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|Family holiday in Saint-Tropez
Tuesday, August 19 2014
Elton’s enjoying some well-deserved down time before his latest tour around the States and Europe kicks off in September 2014.
So he and his partner David decided to whisk their two gorgeous sons Zachary, three, and Elijah, one, away for a family holiday to Saint-Tropez on August 18, 2014. The family of four were joined by friends for a bite to eat at beach-side restaurant Club 55 before heading off on a boat to their next destination.
Little Zachary lovingly held onto his parents’ hands while Elijah was carried by David. Later on the blonde bub tottered along by himself on the wharf wearing an orange safety vest before boarding a boat. However, dad David soon picked him up and helped him walk across the wharf.
67-year-old Elton opted for a casual navy T-shirt, white shorts and trainers. He accessorised his look with a pair of trademark edgy sunglasses, this time stepping out in a reflective blue pair. Taking after his famous father, Zachary sported a pair of cute colourful specs.
Meanwhile David added a splash of colour with red boardshorts which he teamed with a black T-shirt. The pair recently said that it was their duty to get married, once the laws, which allowed civil partnerships but prohibited gay unions, were changed.
In April David told Attitude magazine: "Elton and I will marry - as a high-profile couple, we feel it is our duty to do it, to make sure that everyone knows that this is something that many gay men living in this country never dreamed would happen." Elton and David were one of the first couples to enter into a civil partnership in 2005.
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|A brief history of Elton's retirements
Tuesday, August 19 2014
On August 17, 1984, Elton John shocked the world by telling fans everywhere that he was retiring.
It's something that was less than shocking then and even less shocking if he did it in 2014 (which he did), as Elton has always seen fit to dangle his retirement in front of us just to make sure we're still paying attention.
Here's a brief chronology of Elton's most famous bluffs.
1977, at Wembley Stadium
"I haven't ben touring for a long time and it's been a painful decision, to decide whether to come back on the road or not," he began, inducing a misunderstanding cheer from the audience, who believe he's about to decide in their favor. "I've made a decision tonight...this is going to be the last show."
A half cheer, half groan goes up as if the audience isn't sure how seriously to take it. Elton appropriately played "Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word." By 1979, he'd be back and recording again.
1984, following the "Breaking Hearts" Tour
Elton toured heavily in support of 1984's Breaking Hearts and it began to take its toll on him. What opened with the "European Express" of the tour—through Europe—and then wrapping up in the United States. The effects of the touring was evident when Elton received oxygen while onstage at Madison Square Garden. The performer stayed strong and finished the set, but he had had it with the road. Bernie Taupin began working with others, but Elton was playing live in the "Ice On Fire" tour by 1985.
2010, in GQ
Elton was 63 when he spoke to GQ during 2010 and he was feeling old. He grumbled during his interview that he couldn't compete with modern pop stars and he didn't have enough energy to be a rock star.
"Look, I'm 63. I don't want to be on VH1 or MTV. I'm not going to compete with JLS (Jack The Lad Swing...a British sensation) or Lady Gaga. I'm at that stage where I don't think I can write pop music any more. I can't sit down and do a proper rock song. It was OK when I was 25 or 26, but not any more," he said. "I've made 40-odd albums. People aren't screaming for another Elton John record and I'm not screaming to make another record."
2012, reflecting on fatherhood
Elton described the birth of his son Zachary as a major turning point in his life, and that he would mull retirement when his child reached schooling age.
"While I'm feeling good, I'm going to keep working. When Zachary goes to school, that's another different thing," he said. "I want to take him to school and I want to pick him up. I don't want to miss that part of his childhood."
At what age does "school" begin? That was two years ago and Zachary is quickly approaching the age where one might need a ride to kindergarten. Keep you fingers crossed.
2014, at Festival de Carcassone
Elton was playing a festival in France when he once again hinted to the crowd that he would be formally retiring from the music business, saying "no more shows, no more music, no more songs." Less than a day later his media representative had clarified that the performer was only joking, but at this point fans have to start wondering. The icon has dates planned through the end of 2014 as part of his "Follow The Yellow Brick Road" Tour. Will there be another show come 2015?
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|Ten songs Elton should bring back on tour
Monday, August 18 2014
By Scott Johnson
I saw Elton three times on the UK leg of his tour this year. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy the shows, either, I undoubtedly did (albeit his standout performance at Leigh was somewhat marred by some the more worse-for-wear attendees). It's just that there was something ever-so-slightly lacking.
I read the reviews, and they were (for the most part) upbeat and positive about his performance. I read the thoughts of fans worldwide on several dedicated forums, and it seems that the (vast majority) had a ball. But in the back of my mind, I couldn't shake the feeling that Elton was sounding just a little like... well, as strange as it sounds, as if he was almost trying too hard to rock.
Davey Johnstone has teased recently on his blog that next year's setlist will see something of a shake-up. How widespread and deep-rooted this will ultimately be remains to be seen, but it set my mind in train. Elton John remains one of the most versatile artists of our time (just listen to his recent smokey smooth rendition of "Streets of Philadelphia"; his contribution to a tribute night celebraing the work of veteran rocker Bruce Springsteen), with a catalogue of hits and non-hits that showcase the very best of modern music. Each and every track deserves to be heard, in its own way. I'll admit there are some which just wouldn't work on stage in front of an arena crowd, but Davey's pledge that we can expect "lots of surprises" next time around lifted my spirits just a little.
It's not that I'm tired of hearing or seeing Elton; no, far from it! It's just that I can't help but feel that a shake-up of his setlist would be the best thing for him too. Towards the end of this last European tour (and it's the first time I've ever thought this), I was beginning to think that he was going through the motions. An Elton John concert should be much more than that. It should be a musical journey, a tour de force through the best and the most exquisite extracts from the lyrical and melodical partnership that is John and Taupin.
Elton fears (and he's said so himself, not least in the programme that accompanied this latest tour) of straying too far away from "the hits". I understand that completely and it's something I'd struggle to argue with, despite the inner fan that is desperate to shout otherwise. To sell tickets, to keep the crowds pouring in, he has to play the likes of "Your Song", "Rocket Man", "Candle in the Wind" and "Crocodile Rock" each and every time. The soundtracks to many a childhood are the songs that people are drawn there to hear. But, as I said when I wrote about his performance at Leigh this summer, it struck me how Elton's lesser-known material was being so warmly received by a crowd that, whilst peppered with the hardened and stalwart followers of his career, was made up largely of those who remembers only "the hits". Yet "Oceans Away", for instance, earned him a standing ovation - at all three shows I saw! "Hey Ahab" rocked the house, and the crowds were enthusiastically on their feet and dancing as it was played, even if they didn't know the words. Elton, too, looked more vibrant and enthused as he sang both of these songs; as if the shift out of his comfort zone and the detour from playing Elton-by-numbers gave him a new lease of life, allowed his on-stage creativity to flourish. For a few tracks (too few, sadly), UK crowds were treated to a glimpse of the Elton that exists outside of the songs that we've heard played hundreds of times before; the performer who has a catalogue of wonders beyond what is heard on commercial radio.
But there has to be a balance. Fans make lists (I know, I've made them too). They make playlists on their iPods too. The ones where we build the kinds of concerts that we'd love to hear. The ones where he plays deep cuts and album tracks that only the most dedicated would part with their hard-earned money to hear. Oh, they're wonderful setlists.
And on our iPods, where we piece together those imaginary concerts where there's not a "Daniel" or "Sad Songs" in sight, we can listen to them to our hearts content.
But, in real terms, it's time to release our grip on that fantasy. Elton isn't going to play a concert which is wall-to-wall deep cuts from albums that (I'm sorry to say) most of his audience haven't heard in a long time, if ever. Yes, Elton is far more than his greatest hits, but there has to be a balance. And, if the tease on Davey's blog comes to fruition, I honestly believe a balance is perfectly achiveable. If Elton and his team are really looking through the whole catalogue in a bid to roll out some of those "surprises" we're promised, then they have the perfect opportunity to flesh out the setlist with tracks that, whilst not as widely known as "Candle in the Wind", have the potential to be no less appreciated. Elton needs to diversify if he wants to stay relevant. He needs to tone down the "rock as hard as we can" approach, learn when to pack a punch and when to simply let the piano and vocals speak for themselves. "Tiny Dancer" isn't, and should never be, played as if it's in competition for the Most Rock 'n' Roll Performance of the Night prize. Elton doesn't (or, rather, shouldn't) need to shout over the band. A ballad is a ballad, and should stay that way. (Similarly, a rocker is a rocker, so let's hear it!)
If this sounds overly critical, it isn't meant that way. Elton and Bernie's work is at its best when it is understated, perhaps even stripped down (although I'm not one of those who advocates Elton returning to a three-piece band on small stages as he sails towards the twilight of his career). But I do believe that "softer" segments of his concerts should be introduced, as some of the songs I'm about to suggest below, demonstrate. He also needs to save the rock and roll for the end of the show - there's nothing like a rock and roll finale by Elton to end the night, prior to the encore, and songs like "The Bitch is Back" and "I'm Still Standing" will pack a greater punch if Elton and the band haven't over-indulged in a blizzard of rock and roll arrangements from the very beginning.
"Softer", of course, doesn't need to equate to downbeat. Elton's admitted himself that he loves singing sad songs, but it's possible to slow the pace of the show somewhat without casting gloom over the arena.
So, after chatting with fellow Elton fans (some casual, most concert-goers in their own right), Elton collectors, and indulging in my own look back through the archives, I've come up with this list. Ten songs that, if Elton wants to shake up his setlist, he should bring back on his next tour.
If the man himself, Davey, or anyone else is reading this... I won't mind at all if you decide to steal every last one of these ideas! I'd be willing to bet that, if you did, you'd see a whole new Elton on that stage; re-energised, dramatic, versatile and (most importantly) bringing the house down once again.
1. Simple Life
I'm one of the few who thinks that "Funeral for a Friend" and "Love Lies Bleeding" isn't the best concert opener. I know, I'm in the minority - even Davey is against me on this one, so I'm probably not going to win the argument. But cast your minds back to the 1997/98 tour that Elton played in support of "The Big Picture" album. There, he opened his shows with a percussion-heavy rendition of "Simple Life", those glorious drumbeats announcing his arrival, before delicately sliding into piano-heavy "The One", the duo of songs collectively making a 12-minute opening akin to "Funeral" and "Love". "Simple Life" also ticks the box of being a track that Elton could do justice to with his lower register. What about a refresh that beings right at the start of the show?
2. If the River Can Bend
Tracks from the 1990s are few and far between in Elton's setlists these days, as he prefers instead to concentrate on his 1970s heyday. But if ever there was a 90s piece that deserved resurrection, then look no further than "If the River Can Bend". A gospel-heavy, upbeat number to get the audience on their feet. It received raptuous receptions during its debut tour in 1997 and 1998, so would benefit from a welcome comeback.
3. Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy
2015 will mark the 40th anniversary of the "Captain Fantastic" album; the 1975 masterpiece which is (sorry!) even better than "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", musically and lyrically. It seems only fitting that the first album ever to enter the Billboard charts at Number One should be recognised during its anniversary year. Elton has a fun story to tell behind this song (he wrote the music on a boat sailing from Southampton to New York) and it encapsulates everything that's good about his partnership with Taupin. It's a great number, will give Davey a chance to shine on guitar, and would be a perfect mid-point centerpiece to next year's shows. And it deserves to be heard again in the UK too!
4. Come Down in Time
There are only a few songs that ever leave you truly lost for words, but "Come Down in Time" has to be one of them. At least it did when I first heard it. Elton's admitted himself that this is one of his personal favourites (described once as "one of the best ballads I've ever written"). It's from the 1970s (so likely to be remembered by more than a few of his long-term fans) and it's been dusted off for both US and European tours before, both solo and with the band. It's more than deserving of another day in the sun.
5. Oscar Wilde Gets Out
Elton may be over-critical sometimes, but he hit the nail on the head when he admitted that many of the songs from 2013's "The Diving Board" aren't, as he described it, "arena songs". As much as those who love the album would protest differently, I struggle to see the gorgeous "The New Fever Waltz" being played in somewhere like, Madison Square Gardens or the UK's Manchester Evening News Arena. It just doesn't fit. Nor does the more creative "The Ballad of Blind Tom", as much as the catchy "Play me anything you like / I'll play it back to you" deserves to be much more widely appreciated. Aside from the lead single "Home Again", and the recent flavour-of-the month "Oceans Away", I'd argue that "Oscar Wilde Gets Out" might be the only other track that would work in a modern day Elton show. And work wonders it would! It's concert debut came at the Leeds Arena, just before "The Diving Board" was comerically released. It's concert arrangement seemed to me at the time better than the album cut, and listening back, that holds true. Let the band give this one their all, couple that with the delectibly catchy melody and a whirl of creative piano playing from Elton, and "The Diving Board's" second track might - just might - become a concert staple.
6. Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)
There used to be a time when Elton would only play this track in the titular Madison Square Garden, a somewhat personal tribute to the dearly departed John Lennon who sang there on stage with him on that historic night in 1974. Then there have been exceptions to that rule, which was never hard and fast to begin with: Elton re-introduced the song to audiences across the UK and US on his Medusa tour in 1999 when he played it solo. More recently, it's become a centrepiece of The Million Dollar Piano shows in Las Vegas. Already rehearsed by the band for the Vegas residencies, and with Lennon's name so widely known across the globe, it's an ideal song for Elton to use to reflect on his career and provide a hail to decades gone by. It's also a brilliant song.
7. Blue Avenue
"Sleeping with the Past" might be one of Elton's most under-appreciated albums. Released at the sunset of the 1980s (a period from which Elton seems reluctant to pick out selections for modern-day play), the album contains one of the most poetic and tear-inducing Taupin finales in the form of "Blue Avenue". I toyed between including this, or Ice on Fire's "Shoot Down the Moon" in my list, but figured that, of the two, this was the more likely to see the light of day again. Last heard during the 1992 tour in support of "The One" album, it's a song that Elton's post-2000 voice could still do justice to and provide a little variety with in the slower segments of his shows.
Looking back at the "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" tour, I'm amazed this one didn't make it in. A fan favourite, "Harmony" has dipped in and out of setlists across the decades more than perhaps any other non-hit single. It is, as Elton once described it, his "most famous non-played number". It was a staple of the solo tours in the late 1990s, found itself rolled across the lawn of Central Park in 1980 (mercifully before the Donald Duck outfit was unviled) and has been peppered throughout the 1990s and 2000s whenever the mood seemingly takes the Elton John band. I was taken aback that it didn't feature in the 40th anniversary celebrations, given how often it has made a return to the stage. It works so well in concert, the fans love it, casual audiences will remember it. Go on Elton, it's time to bring back the never-leaving Harmony.
9. The Last Song
I'm one of a rare breed who actually believes that "Your Song" isn't the best closer to an Elton John concert. Yes, I know it's the one everyone longs to hear and it's so often been thought of as the ideal track to bring a curtain down on the night with. But if Elton really wants to refresh his setlist next year and bring about a real revival of his live shows, then he could do worse than take a look back at the format of many of his 1990s tours. Those were the days - when many of the tracks I've already mentioned were slipped into setlists so casually and recieved roaring appreciation. Ironically, one that lasted the course (from it's 1992 debut right through to the 1999 "Medusa" tour) was the AIDS-inspired and tributory "The Last Song". In it's early appearances, it was the closing number for the first "act" of the show, before the sombre bars of "Funeral for a Friend" opened the "jukebox" segment. It worked just as well in the mid 1990s when Elton used it as - well, the last song of the show, performing both this and the aforementioned "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" as an encore. It's a winning combination, and despite Bernie's own concerns about the lyrics (he doesn't, from all accounts, rank them amongst his best), Elton's delivery of the line about misjudging love between a father and his son is heartbreak at it's most acute; and deserving of one more curtain call.
10. We All Fall in Love Sometimes & Curtains
So if one were to follow my argument and agree that "Your Song" actually works better part-way through a show rather than as its finale, what else (aside from the afore-argued "The Last Song") might be a deserving closing number? Cast your minds back, if you can, to Madison Square Garden in 2005 when the Voice of Atlanta delivered a rousing rendition of "Curtains" alongside Elton; those "lum-de-lums" rebounding off every corner of the arena, quite akin to nothing that we'd heard before. The duo of songs that rounded off 1975's "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy" album are a seminal masterpiece of artistry; "We All Fall in Love Sometimes" is one of Bernie's most adult and bittersweet lyrics, a perfect finale to both the story of a songwriting partnership and a love song that is frankly (sorry, Elton) miles better than "Your Song". Last used as a closing number back in 1997 and, like the opening track from the album, celebrating 40 years in 2015, Elton could do worse to his fans than dust off this epic and let is crackle on the speakers for a few more nights.
(Narrowly missing my list of "most wanted" were "High Flying Bird" and "Ballad of a Well-Known Gun", but I solemnly restricted myself to ten tracks, and ten is where it stayed.)
Agree with my choices? Hate them all? I'd love to hear from you.
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