Monday, June 8, 2009

Elton John in Thomond Park - from today's Limerick Leader

A HUGE crowd of 22,000 brave souls packed Thomond Park on Saturday night to see one of the world’s biggest music superstars deliver a storming set, despite the inclement weather.

After two weeks of glorious sunshine the heavens erupted on Saturday afternoon, but there was to be no ‘tantrums and tiaras’ from Sir Elton John, who blasted through a muscular 27 strong set of his greatest hits from his 40-odd year career, playing for just under two hours and twenty minutes on the hallowed turf.

The rocket man’ acknowledged the efforts of the crowd and his surroundings after his second song, the memorable Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting, declaring himself “very happy to be here – thanks for turning out in this rugby weather”.

Peter Aiken of Aiken Promotions, who began formulating the idea for concerts in Thomond Park several years ago, told the Limerick Leader that Elton John had been “very emotional” after he left the stage.

“Elton is a trooper and he put on a great show, he was very emotional at the end. I was at the far side of stage when he came off and he said, ‘that was amazing’,” said Aiken, speaking in the ‘Away’ dressing room in the bowels of the newly developed €40 million stadium after the concert.

“The great thing for us is that the audience were so good. We have a 100 percent satisfied artist, his manager was here tonight and was blown away by it.”

Over 400 people were employed on the night, and Peter paid tribute to the stadium and its management. “You can have a great venue but it doesn’t matter if you don’t have good people and there are good people here. This is one of the most accommodating venues we have worked in. This is one of the great stadiums,” he added.

Fans young and old, wet and dry, from the wheel heeled to poncho-wearing revellers, all danced their way through a tremendous set that showcased Elton John’s status as one of the best entertainers in the business.

Classics like Rocket Man and Tiny Dancer came early in the set, as did a number of songs from the seminal ‘Tumbleweed Connection’ album, while Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Candle In The Wind, a rarely heard Skyline Pigeon and the upbeat Are You Ready For Love whipped the crowd into a frenzy. 22,000 voices joined in unison for the Crocodile Rock, which closed the set, before Elton returned for a two-song encore of I’m Still Standing and Your Song.

“You’ve been an amazing audience, you must be freezing, but what do you expect from the Irish? It’s always a pleasure to come here, you’ve been so warm and welcoming, thank you Limerick,” declared Elton John as he walked off stage, before being whisked away immediately to Shannon Airport to fly home.

Watching proceedings keenly was John Cantwell, Thomond Park director, who heralded the stadium as a world class venue.

“It was a brilliant show, he really went for it and didn’t hold back, I thought the sound was excellent,” said John. “We are used to superstars here in Thomond Park and we had another here tonight. This was a great occasion for the stadium and for Limerick and hopefully this will have highlighted what a truly world class venue we have here.”

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