This past Friday, April 8, I was fortunate enough to watch Sir Elton John for the second time in my life and in my own backyard at Thompson-Bowling Arena. Not only that, but this is the last tour before he calls it a career. The performance was one that I will never forget, and the clear consideration and care John has for his fans is unparalleled.

John took the stage promptly, making his entrance right at 8 p.m., as the showtime said he would. This was the first notable thing for me because, as some of you may know, musical acts do not always take the stage right on time.

For instance, when I saw The Rolling Stones this past fall in Atlanta, they took the stage about an hour after they were supposed to make their entrance. Sure, the argument can be made that they’re older and such things should be expected from legends like that. Although, this is Elton John we are talking about — who has sold more records and won many more awards than The Rolling Stones while also being in the same age group as the Stones. This isn’t a dig at the Stones, rather, a commendation to John. John is 75 years old and mentioned early into the show he was stuck in Atlanta until 6:15 p.m. but somehow still arrived at the venue to start things off on time.

I grew up on Elton John, so I had an affinity for him through familiarity of his catalogue, but he is also one of those rare musicians that culturally and stylistically survived the eras he was most popular in through to the present. The crowd I was in had people from all demographics because John is a transcendent talent. He has laid bare all parts of his life for us to see. That includes his battles with addiction, struggle to find love and the freedom and grace in which he broached his sexuality, part of what has made him a pillar of the LGBTQ+ community.

Beyond his honesty and activism, his music is also great. This isn’t subjective at this point, it's objective fact. He has won five Grammy Awards, two Academy Awards, one Tony Award and has been honored by countless other organizations and bodies.

For me, it can take a moment to get into the rhythm and energy of a concert. There’s a lot of shifting around, people cutting through cramped aisles to get their seats and musicians getting a feel for the crowd.

The moment I got sucked into the concert last Friday was about 15 minutes into things when John played “Rocket Man” and then added at least three minutes of improvised instrumental play to the song.

It was epic and felt like something only a master pianist and seasoned musician such as himself could do. That, in essence, was the rest of the night for me watching Sir Elton John. Moment after moment of special feelings while listening to music that has always been a part of my entire life.

I may have grown up on Elton John’s music, but I certainly did not have to continue listening to it. I chose to keep listening, not only because of how long I’ve known it but because there are still songs I’m finding from his extensive catalogue that I love. The thing I loved most about the concert though … It’s how Elton John understands how much he means to people, and in turn, he gives us all he can both on stage and off it. I am so appreciative to have had the opportunity to see him live in-concert twice because there will never be another Elton John.

Sure, there will be others like him, but none could ever be all that he is.

Grant T. Mitchell is a graduate student in the College of Communication and Information. He can be reached at gmitch16@vols.utk.edu.

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