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My Evening With Sir Elton John

Kacey Deamer |
September 19, 2013 | 9:18 p.m. PDT

Operations Director

(Sir Elton John/Courtesy of Dietmar Quistorf/USC)
(Sir Elton John/Courtesy of Dietmar Quistorf/USC)
DISCLAIMER: This is not a news article. This is not a recap nor a review.  

This is a story about the three hours one of the greatest musicians of this generation — or any generation — spent on stage in Bovard Auditorium at the University of Southern California. Sir Elton John answers questions on stage at Bovard Auditorium, courtesy of Dietmar Quistorf/USC

You may have seen my tweets from the event. Many of them alluded to the fact that I was getting emotional. How could I not? The man, the legend, Sir Elton John was on stage in front of me. And I wasn’t the only one. The packed Bovard Auditorium echoed in sing-along. Smiles adorned the adoring fans’ faces and there were more than a few teary eyes. Two of them belonged to me.

I grew up with Elton John. My parents grew up with him. Some of my most cherished records are Elton John LPs my dad handed down to me. He is more than a musician, he is a friend that comes to visit through the sound system speakers.

To be in his physical proximity, even in an auditorium, was an event all it’s own. Let alone the fact that the concert was rather intimate, as if he was sharing these songs with me rather than performing them. It felt like he knew I was there, and would turn to me between songs and share a story or two.

He gave a similar performance at his alma mater the Royal Academy of Music. USC was the only other campus to host this event, a partnership with John’s record label Capitol Records, the Thornton School of Music and the campus initiative Visions and Voices.

A few incredibly lucky and equally as talented students from the Thornton School of Music had the opportunity to perform with John on stage. I momentarily regretted my decision to pursue a journalism career rather than one as a musician. It passed, but I was definitely jealous.

I can’t begin to imagine what the Thornton students were thinking, performing with Elton John. It was a true performance, too, not just some attempt to include the students; they played a role in the concert.

He even acknowledged the power of string instruments and orchestra in rock and roll music, warning the audience that they’d be turning the volume up. So much so, in fact, that ear plugs were offered. I did not want any inhibitor to the full concert experience, but some folks did take advantage of the offer.

Between John’s legendary piano playing, the orchestra, percussion, guitar and backup singers, the music could be felt through my entire body. My heart beat with the beat of the music.

Built into the program was a question and answer portion that gave insight into the life of Reginald Dwight — for the uninitiated fans, that’s Elton John’s birth name. Music producer T Bone Burnett introduced the Q&A, sharing his first memory of Elton John when the young musician played at the Troubadour in 1970.

“It stayed with me, the feeling, the sound, the crazy, wild attack,” Burnett said. “It was beautiful and free."

Burnett’s words rang true for my experiences seeing Elton John on stage for the first time, even 43 years after.

Reach Operations Director Kacey Deamer here.



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