19 Mar 2013
- Written by Christopher Hope/Special to The New Tri-State Defender
Downtown Memphis was the place to be on Saturday night. Patrons flooded Beale Street celebrating St. Patrick's Day. The Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. regional convention was going on and the weather was perfect for just hanging out.
And, oh yeah, over at the FedExForum, a music legend – Elton John – was in town to do his thing.
Hundreds crowded the FedExForum plaza before the show, drinking and having a pre-concert party of their own.
"As a kid in the 70's, the first time I heard 'Your Song' I was hooked," said Mike Payne, one of many in the crowd. "His music has never grown old to me."
Inside, the arena filled to concert capacity.
"We usually block off the seats behind the stage, but for this show we had to open it up for more ticket availability," said one of the ushers.
Elton John hit the stage at 8:04 wearing a custom red jacket that was bedazzled with gems of a dragon wrapped around it and flames on the sleeves.
His opening song was "The Bitch Is Back," followed by the ever-popular "Bennie and the Jets."
The night before, John's Birmingham show had been canceled after he became ill. He gave the Memphis-area fans a little warning.
"I was sick last night and had to cancel my show. But I'm here tonight Memphis! If I pass out, don't panic. Just pick me up and put me back at my piano," said John with a sarcasm-laced laugh.
After that, it was on!
Fans in the first two rows were given wristbands allowing them to approach the stage after the show for autographs.
Completely at home on stage, John then went from one end of the stage to the other giving the fans exactly what they wanted – an unforgettable night.