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Elton Appears On Ally McBeal
Wednesday, November 28 2001

Written by Reggie Zippo.

In contrast to all of the other "walk on" parts that Elton John has provided for USA TV series programs over the years, his appearance on the drama sitcom Ally McBeal (November 26, 2001) was indeed a refreshing change from the usual scripted dialogue that he was expected to recite.

For this episode, Elton was not given any speaking lines or direct contact with any of the principle players of the show, but was instead showcased as the featured singer in the bar lounge of a law firm building. The premise was that Elton wanted to test out some new material in a small venue before embarking on a world wide tour with his band.

The law firm represented on the show often adjourns to this downstairs bar after hours to reflect the days events and to interact with one another in a more intimate environment when relationships can either meld or split apart, depending on the subject matter of the script each week. During one such gathering at the beginning of this particular show, a female lawyer and a female judge were talking when the judge noticed that there was a "new" singer in the lounge. The lawyer exclaimed that the singer was in fact Elton John to which the judge replied by asking "Can't he turn it down?"

Apparently, the music was a bit too loud for this judge as she is a constant complainer on the show. Elton was joined on the small stage with his complete band, including Davey and Nigel, to belt out a lip-synched version of "The Wasteland". In fact, all of the Elton and band performances throughout this show was not actually live, but rather in the style of old American Bandstand type programs where the artist merely lip-synchs and pretends to play the instruments of their current hits. Elton and his mates made it very difficult to detect, but they were in fact lip-synching and gyrating to prerecorded music. And, although "The Wasteland" is not yet considered a hit, the song set the tone for the rest of the show. This week's episode dealt with the stereotypical relationships of older women loving much younger men that others perceive as frivolous and an embarrassment to certain social circles.

At about midway into the program, the cast found themselves back in the lounge again to witness Elton giving a convincing rendition of "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting". This song was actually recorded at one of Elton's New York concerts, but which one in particular is uncertain. As the show progressed to the finale, two of the principle characters contemplated the possibility of ever having an excepted intimate relationship, since one was an older woman and the other was a very young man, to which Elton provided the musical backdrop with his current hit "I Want Love". Overall, Elton's appearance on this TV program was both exciting and riveting, but it would have been more interesting if he had been given a few speaking lines to convey his own feelings about older people in love with someone much younger since he knows first hand about this subject.

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Elaborate Lives of the backstage superstars
Thursday, November 22 2001

Written by Reggie Zippo. Reference: The Smoking Gun: Archive

Since the advent of the "Superstar" artist within the ranks of the entertainment world, backstage demands of the touring divas, rock idols, and various musical celebrities have ranged from the mundane to the outrageous. Nearly every performer outlines exactly what is expected in each dressing room of each venue before any performance will be delivered. If these requirements are not met precisely, then the artist has the option of bailing out of the concert. For those not privy to the contractual agreements between the artist and the concert venues, a typical fan may think that it surely is not such a difficult task to accommodate these icons of the music industry. The following proves just how wrong this opinion can be.

Individually tailored for each personality, the detailed tour contracts - called "riders" in the industry - contain very specific instructions and feature lists of the foods, beverages, and all other materials that must be provided at each venue. Often times, these riders reveal more about the artist than what is generally known by the public. For example, in the 1980s the rock group Van Halen demanded that a very large bowl of M&M candy be placed in their dressing room, but if any brown M&Ms were in the bowl then they would not perform. The same can be said of the Country act Alabama. They will not perform if any live animals are present in the backstage area at any time of day or night of the concert. Shania Twain requires ten pounds of carrots in her dressing room and the Rolling Stones needs a pinball machine, a snooker table and racing video games, among other sporty recreational items.

Now we come to our Elton. His riders are not too terribly unreasonable, but it does require a lot of decorating before Elton will give his stamp of approval. Below is a sampling of the requirements that Elton placed on the venues during "The Elton John One Man Show" tour. Can you imagine just how much more is required if the band is touring with him as well?

Elton's Private Hospitality Room - This room should comfortably hold 10 people. It should have at least two 120 volt A.C. power outlets and one 230 or 208 volt 20 amp single phase supply (for our personal, portable air conditioner if needed). It should have private access to a minimum of 1 shower, toilet, and washing facilities, with hot and cold running water and a supply of 12 clean towels. This room must be kept clean and at a comfortable temperature at all times (60 degrees in the summer and 70 degrees in the winter). The Lighting in this room should be adequate for a relaxed atmosphere (i.e., table and floor lamps rather than overhead fluorescent). If this room is a Locker room, it must be completely draped by 12 noon on the day of the show. This should be carpeted and furnished with 1 six foot sofa, 1 love seat, 2 easy chairs, 2 chairs, 2 table lamps, 2 floor standing lamps, 1 coffee table, 2 six foot banquet tables (covered with white linen table cloths), 4 large green plants, 1 large arrangement of colored flowers (NO Chrysanthemums, Lillies, Carnations, or Daisies).

In addition, this room should be supplied with 4 large San Pellegrino bottled water or 12 small bottles, 4 large Evian or 18 small bottles of water, 8 Diet Coke (MUST BE IN CANS), 4 Diet 7-Up and/or Diet Sprite, 1 pint of fresh squeezed orange juice, 1 pint of fresh 2% milk, 1 hot water kettle, 1 assortment of teas, coffee, sugar, uncut fresh lemons to include English Breakfast Tea, and Equal brand sweetener. Please be aware all drinks need to be iced down. We will use approximately 40 kilos of ice on a show day. The room should be set up for 4 people and include 1 fresh fruit basket (the fruit left whole), ABSOLUTELY NO COLD CUTS, 6 cups, saucers, plates (stoneware), knives, forks, spoons (no plastic), 12 drinking glasses (no plastic), 24 large plastic cups, 2 lined trash cans, and 2 bottle openers.

Elton's rider contains many more revealing details, too numerous to all list here, but one can only imagine the lengths a concert promoter must go through just to pamper the weary traveling Superstar.

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Verse One - The Tour Begins
Saturday, November 10 2001

Written by Reggie Zippo. Compiled from Fan Reports and news releases.

On October 5, 2001, Elton John and his band of musicians, technicians, and a core of long time professionals unleashed a cornucopia of songs to a hungry audience at the Convocation Center in Cleveland, Ohio. For this premier concert, nestled within the expected selections, Elton chose to include several classic gems such as Roy Rogers, Country Comfort, Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters, (Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket, and Holiday Inn. At later venues he will eliminate some of these, but will add other cherished treasures. One song in particular that was included on the first set list was Mansfield, which is an odd choice in itself since most fans have expressed a dislike for it altogether. Elton undoubtedly sensed this notion by eventually deleting it from the set list for later shows. It had been quite some time since Elton had toured world wide with his band mates and, if the Cleveland concert is to be an indicator, this outing will prove to be quite impressive with many twists and turns of the piano strings.

On October 6, Elton and crew crossed the USA/Canadian border to perform at Toronto's Air Canada Center with a set list that nearly matched the Cleveland show the previous evening. Hercules fan correspondent Cynthia Galpin reported that Elton was very apologetic for playing the new songs. Since the set list was interspersed with mellow classics and the new songs were largely unfamiliar to most fans, the audience members were relatively subdued, but responsive with cheers and applause at the end of each song. After Toronto, Elton made his way to Ottawa for an October 9 engagement, which was reported to be as amazing as the Toronto concert. To end his stay in Canada, Elton traveled to Quebec City to perform at the Colisee on October 10. Sadly, Roy Rogers was replaced with I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues. Perhaps Elton felt that this classic didn't receive the expected acceptance during the previous concerts, but hope is that Roy will find his way back in the saddle again.

Dipping back into the USA, Columbus, Ohio, fans were treated to a rousing performance at the Value City Arena on October 12. Mansfield was finally replaced with This Train Don't Stop There Anymore while the rest of the set list remained untouched. For the conclusion of the first leg of this world wide tour, Elton blessed Detroit, Michigan with an appearance on October 13. Hercules fan correspondent Tony Centofante reported that Elton's new sound system, which was recently advertised in Billboard magazine, was perfect beyond belief. Tony further reported that the audience was rather calm at the beginning of the concert and then a bit uneasy and disturbed when Elton blasted the Reagan administration before launching into a fast paced version of Ballad Of The Boy In The Red Shoes. This awkwardness was visibly expressed from the audience by taking the opportunity to go to the concession area. Elton, however, won back the audience's favor by singing his version of the Star Spangled Banner and dedicating Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters to everyone in New York City, after which he yelled into the microphone "Let's Get Those Bastards!" That single comment brought a two minute standing ovation. From there to the end of the show, Elton bonded with the crowd. On October 20, Elton took a break from the tour to perform 3 songs at the now famous New York City Tribute concert. He included Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters, but opted not to make the same comment again. Audience reaction was still equally matched. Expect to see this song on the set list for the entire tour.

From New York, Elton headed south to perform four concerts in Mexico City. The first venue was on October 22 at Chapultepec Castle, a former Presidents home. Elton was scheduled to headline a private fund raising event for the Vamos Mexico (Let's Go Mexico) Foundation, which assists the poor. This brought angered protests from a small group of Mexican nationals who felt that Elton was not "Mexican" enough to grace the castle's corridors. They argued that Elton was too commercial and would not best represent Mexico for this affair. Undaunted, Elton arrived on stage as planned. Hercules fan correspondent Patricia Perrin de la Rosa reported that, although the presence of the "White Revolution Group" drew about 100 to 200 protesters, Elton's concert began without any type of problems. After 800 guests arrived through a private entrance, Elton performed solo for the entire evening with only about half of the set list represented and a few extra surprise classics.

October 22 found Elton back with the band again to perform at the National Auditorium (Auditorio Nacional). Patricia, who attended all four concerts, reported that at the end of the first song Elton's piano developed an illness, which needed to be remedied before he could continue. A technician came out on stage to fix the problem while Elton entertained by doing a little dance then joked "You'll have to wait until the piano is fixed or we buy another piano for the show!" Patricia said that it was a mere four minute wait, but it seemed like an eternity. Knowing his perfectionist attitude, Elton was probably seething inside, but he did not reveal it to the audience. Upon repair, he launched into Someone Saved My Life Tonight. A fitting song to say the least. The rest of the set list was radically different from previous editions by adding Honky Cat, Blue Eyes, The One, Sacrifice, and Nikita while other songs were cast aside. Another change was that part of the set list was performed solo.

For the third Mexico City concert, Elton switched back to the set list he had installed in the USA and Canada with only a few alterations. The audience for this October 23 show was more energetic than at previous venues, which undoubtedly charged Elton tremendously, and they responded wildly from beginning to end. Elton had not introduced his band mates the previous evening, probably because he was too preoccupied with anger over his piano problems, but this time he made sure to acknowledge each one individually. For the fourth and final appearance in Mexico City, Sky Cable System televised the entire concert live on October 25 for the Mexican public. Patricia reported that a lot of Mexican actors were in attendance for this event. As expected, Elton gave a stellar performance. During the concert, Patricia reported that Elton hinted that he will be back to Mexico soon, but it is unclear if he meant as a performer, on holiday, or for some other function. At any rate, the audience responded joyfully. When the concert ended and Elton said his good-byes, Patricia noticed many tears flowing. She revealed that a lot of those tears were her own.

Traveling back to the USA for an October 27 show in Reno, Nevada, fans were treated to an outstanding performance at the Lawlor Event Center. Hercules fan correspondent A. Tyler Mally reported that Elton was especially in rare form that evening with long piano riffs, piano top dancing, bench flipping, and solos to add to the overall experience. The only disheartening observation was when Elton apologized for playing songs from the new album. This seems to be a growing concern for him as he had made similar comments at previous concerts. It is puzzling why he feels this way since the new album has been so embraced by all of his fans and the critics have been most supportive of the new songs. Elton needs to rest assured that we all LOVE the new album without question!

Elton continues to tour on this world wide adventure, spreading his magic to all corners of the globe. With his never ending supply of energy and songs, Elton will always be well received from your town to the end of the world!

The following is a complete list of all of the songs that Elton has performed in October (not including the New York City appearance) and how many times each song has been included in the set list (in no specific order):

  • Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding (11)
  • Someone Saved My Life Tonight (11)
  • Bennie And The Jets (12)
  • Philadelphia Freedom (11)
  • Ballad Of The Boy In The Red Shoes (11)
  • The Wasteland (10)
  • Rocket Man (12)
  • Daniel (12)
  • Roy Rogers (4)
  • Mansfield (5)
  • (Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket (8)
  • I Want Love (11)
  • Birds (8)
  • Country Comfort (8)
  • Take Me To The Pilot (11)
  • Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters (12)
  • Holiday Inn (10)
  • American Triangle (8)
  • Original Sin (8)
  • Levon (9)
  • I'm Still Standing (12)
  • The Bitch Is Back (11)
  • Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting) (8)
  • Believe (6)
  • Crocodile Rock (12)
  • Your Song (12)
  • Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me (12)
  • Tiny Dancer (11)
  • Candle In The Wind (9)
  • I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues (8)
  • This Train Don't Stop There Anymore (6)
  • The Star Spangled Banner (1)
  • The Greatest Discovery (4)
  • Honky Cat (2)
  • Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word (4)
  • The One (4)
  • Blue Eyes (4)
  • Sacrifice (3)
  • Nikita (3)

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