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Rocket Man Sir Elton John knows how to keep his Aberdeen fans waiting

Sir Elton John performing in 1971.
Sir Elton John performing in 1971.

Rocket Man Sir Elton John is no stranger to keeping his Aberdeen fans waiting for over a year to see him perform.

Sir Elton was forced to postpone two nights at P&J Live in December until June 2023 to undergo hip surgery after a fall.

The same thing happened back in 1971.

Then, of course, he was just plain Elton John.

He was on the rise to global stardom when he started his Winter 1971 Tour following the release of the Tumbleweed Connection album in October 1970.

He performed in Stirling, Glasgow and Dunfermline before illness forced him to postpone the February 18 1971 concert at Aberdeen Music Hall.

The date was not rescheduled during his revised 1971 tour but Sir Elton couldn’t forget his Aberdeen fans and was determined to make it up to them.

Sir Elton performed in the UK, Europe, America, Australia and Japan during a busy 1971.

He finally performed at the Music Hall on March 1 1972 during his Winter Tour to promote Honky Château and it proved worth the wait for 1,200 fans.

Tickets were 50p.

He walked on stage at the Music Hall wearing a silver jacket, orange T-shirt, red velvet knee-length trousers, red-and-white hooped socks and yellow boots.

Sitting alone at the piano he opened the show with Tiny Dancer before being joined by his band to perform songs from his first five studio albums.

He played songs from Honky Château which would go on to become a staple part of Sir Elton’s tour set lists for five decades including Rocket Man and Honky Cat.

Here was a performer at the top of his game and riding the crest of a wave although his 1972 appearance didn’t please everyone who was in the audience!

Evening Express review

The Evening Express reviewer described the star’s first gig in the Granite City as “an entertaining evening, certainly, but not wholly satisfying”.

The review stated: “All the old favourites were obligatorily applauded after the first few bars, although the best reception was reserved for the single Your Song which was received with a united gasp of pleasure and was listened to in rapt admiration.

“Border Song and The King Must Die were other goodies from the past, and although the audience obviously preferred to hear familiar material, the group did play a selection from the new album Honky Château.

“Throughout the evening there was an uncertain feeling of disappointment about the performance, and it wasn’t until the finale that things really came alive.

“That the man has talent there can be no doubt, but at times it would have been nice just to have been sitting at home listening intently to Buckmaster’s sensitive arrangements and Taupin’s ingenious lyricism.

“The combination of these three make Elton John and Elton John on record provides so much more than his concert companion.

“It must be said that the ‘alter ego’ generates a lot of live excitement and certainly puts on a rocking good show, but lacks the subtlety and inventiveness that is so obviously lurking beneath the surface.

“Sound balance in the hall was poor, with many of the vocals lost in competition with the rest of the group, where the drummer at times seemed to be trying to break out of jail!

“The addition of another keyboard would at least, to these ears, have been more rewarding than another guitar in order to give the sound fullness and depth, but nevertheless the group did manage to get things together in a storming closer.”

Madman Across the Water and Take Me To The Pilot were following by Whole Lotta Shaking and Honky Tonk Woman which closed that first Aberdeen show.

The EE reviewer did praise the show for having the distinction of being the “first one in Aberdeen to actually start on time and stick to schedule”.

Memorable Aberdeen gigs

Sir Elton’s fans and the great man himself saw things differently of course!

Before his last performance in Aberdeen in 2015 he reminisced about that first date.

Sir Elton John performing at the AECC in 2015.

He said: “I can still remember playing at the Music Hall at my first gig in the Granite City in 1972, and am very grateful to the AECC for giving us the chance to construct our own stage for this show.

“I cannot wait to bring my band which includes guitarist Davey Johnstone from Scotland, who has been with me since 1972, back to Aberdeen.

“I am sure we will all have a fantastic time.”

Dressed in a green shirt and a black and green sparkly gown, he ended the UK leg of his European tour with a hit-packed set that lasted almost two-and-a-half hours.

“What better way to finish a tour than in Scotland,” Sir Elton told the crowd.

No moment demonstrated that better than his version of Scotland the Brave, played on a saltire-draped piano, which sent the audience into raptures when it segued into Rocket Man.

That gig in 2015 was his first in the Granite City since 26,000 fans packed Pittodrie Stadium in 2004.

Back then Sir Elton and his band ordered 16 cod, chips and mushy peas from the Ashvale in Great Western Road before going on stage!

Fans were overjoyed as he performed much-loved hits including Crocodile Rock, I’m Still Standing and Candle in the Wind.

Sir Elton at Pittodrie in 2004 after enjoying a fish supper before taking to the stage.

And Sir Elton even had time to thank Aberdeen City Council for kindly leaving the airport open late so he could nip home.

Since his career began in 1969, Elton has played more than 3,500 concerts in more than 80 countries.

He is one of the top-selling solo artists of all time, with 37 gold and 27 multi-platinum albums as well as 58 Billboard Top 40 singles, and he has sold more than 250 million records worldwide.

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