May 29, 2008

Elton John in the 49th State

Elton John stepped onto the Sullivan Arena stage on Wednesday night like he owned the place. While I have no doubt that with nearly 50 years of albums and tours, he can afford the place; it took a unique interaction with an Alaskan crowd to win the favor of the whole town. To recap the degree of buzz surrounding Sir Elton’s Alaskan journey, you must know that big name artists don’t come to Anchorage. And sometimes if they do book a show in Anchorage, there’s a long history of artists canceling their shows. As I mentioned in a previous post, Elton John originally booked 2 Alaska shows as part of a complete the USA effort to play all 50 states. The Anchorage show sold out in 58 minutes, which led to concert promoters scheduling a second Anchorage show for Friday night, which apparently sold out in 55 minutes.

With a little back story it should come as no surprise to you that there was a lot of energy in the air Wednesday night. Fairly promptly after 8pm, Elton John took the stage to thunderous applause. He made a point to wave and salute each section of the arena. Throughout his performance he consistently smiled and waved, and acknowledged the entire crowd. Speaking of the performance…it couldn’t have been better! He kicked off the two and a half hour set with “Your Song” and mixed in with several lesser known songs from older albums, he thrilled the crowd with classics like “Tiny Dancer”, “Daniel”, and “Levon.”

Above all it was a great reminder of how much Elton John has contributed to the musical landscape over the past 40 years. Everyone has their “Tiny Dancer” moment like one of my favorite Almost Famous scenes. Everyone has a “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” moment or “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” moment. And whether images of Marilyn Monroe or Diana, Princess of Wales come to mind during “Candle in the Wind” the point is that Elton John’s music has done one of those amazing things by moving you, sticking in your mind or just bringing a pleasant memory back to you.

(Anchorage Daily News review)

May 20, 2008

New Music Tuesday: Re-Arrange Us and Get Better

I've had "Get Better" rattling around my head for the last few weeks whenever something else isn't distracting my mind. I purposely avoided the pre-release that Mates of State was offering on their myspace page...and boy did it pay off. This morning I grabbed the new album off of AmazonMP3 ($7.99 as opposed to the $9.99 iTunes is charging) and I love it. I've only listened to it twice all the way through it, but already love the energy and feeling of the album. Don't ask me to explain any deeper meaning of the video below for "Get Better" just know that it's my song of the summer so far. As I've done before I highly recommend checking out 2006's Bring It Back and add Re-Arrange Us to the list of must have albums for 2008. I will warn you now that this album could lead to smiling, dreaming better dreams, foot tapping and a general feeling of hope. If I were a Portlander still, I'd drop everything and drive to Bend to see them play the Schwab on Saturday. Enjoy the vid.

May 11, 2008

My Mother's Day

My mom is the greatest! Here are a few pics to show a few of the ways that she is great.

My mom met INXS.My mom always has time for a trip to Disneyland.My mom loves a good time and always knows how to dress for an occasion.My mom is a great leader, especially when an adventure is afoot. My mom loves to hike and is never afraid of where her feet might take her.My mom is cringing at having these 5 pictures of her up on my blog but is so polite, I won't hear about it. Love you, Mom.

May 10, 2008

There's A Lesson To Be Learned From Elton John

When Elton John announced he was coming to Anchorage, there was a buzz in the city. I can't tell you how many friends and co-workers asked "Are you going to Elton John?" There was an excitement with people young and old.
Let's back up a bit. My understanding of what is bringing Sir Elton to Anchorage is there are a handful of states he's never played in the US, so with his greatest hits tour, he scheduled himself in places like Vermont and Alaska. He scheduled one show in Anchorage and one in Fairbanks.
So, back to Elton.
The tickets went on sale Monday morning at 10am local time. I'm a big fan of old Elton, and can occasionally tolerate new stuff when I don't have control of the music. I find myself singing along with his songs...even occasionally a Lion King era song. So in light of it being a greatest hits tour and the novelty of him coming to Anchorage, I logged into my lucky account at 9:50am and rested my browser on the Elton John/Sullivan Arena page. At 9:58, I hit refresh and where it previously said "Not Available Until May 5 at 10am" now said select your tickets. Grabbed best available and had the confirmation email by 10:02. I watched Anchorage Twitterers chattering about trying to get tickets and soon after received a breaking news email from that the Elton John show sold out in 58 minutes. He has since added a second night after the Fairbanks show that goes on sale Monday (5/12), but this is where the lesson can be learned.
No it's not a lesson of how a lucky account can beat people who camp out all night at the brick and mortar box office, no it's not a lesson in how Twitter can guide you to the least busy Fred Meyer (though, it could've), it's a lesson for musicians and bands that ignore the Anchorage market. Sure there isn't a great venue, sure it costs a lot of money to bring extravagant sets and 100 piece bands, but what Elton John can teach you is that if you make the effort, Anchorage will show up. I haven't seen any stats on how fast Wilco, Third Eye Blind or Son Volt tickets are selling for their summer dates, but many more people have heard of Elton John than any of them.
So let this be the summer that re-defines Anchorage as a must stop on any North American tour. We're hostages of ClearChannel up here so the discovery of new music is a challenge for the average Alaskan, but even when Colin Hay came up last summer the Discovery Theater was packed, not to mention plenty of local talent that would love to say they opened for a big nationally recognized band. So, for the record, when Elton plays Sullivan Arena on May 28th, I'll be singing along from row 15.