Sir Elton & the Stones

The week of September 29th to October 6th was concert week for the Deobald’s. When the announcement came out that the Rolling Stones were coming to Regina, I went about snaffling up tickets for the Sunday show (his birthday) and then when the Friday show opened up, made another stab at getting even better tickets. In the end, I was the proud owner of 11 tickets in various places and times. I was fortunate to get rid of all the tickets we didn’t need without taking a bath on them. (I sold two on Ebay for cost and four to friends for cost).Then, a week before the Stones were set to arrive, Irene’s boss announced that he had “won” tickets to Elton John from the local radio station. In actual fact, they were a peace offering from the radio station for screwing up on some of his promotional campaigns, but hey, let’s not quibble. The main thing is that he had no interest in going to see Elton John, so, in the end, he gave the tickets to Irene.

So, on September 29th (A Friday), Irene and I took the afternoon off and headed to Calgary. The tickets were pretty good ones, five rows up just inside centre ice. With the distance that the stage projected onto the ice surface, that put us fairly close to Sir Elton, close enough that we spent more time viewing the concert in person than peering at the big screen. Which is good, because that’s a bugbear of mine – attending a live concert and watching it on video.

Elton John in CalgaryThe concert itself was great. He played for over 2 hours straight, left the stage, came back out for the encore, but spend about 10 minutes signing autographs first. Then they performed for over a half hour again. In total, the concert was a full three hours long. And the old fella still has both the chops and the pipes. We were a little surprised that there were no wardrobe changes, though (he never left the stage). The best part of the concert was when he let his band have a break and he just played the piano and sang. The worst part was the acoustics in the Saddledome, which occasionally, through some miracle of acoustic distortion when the keyboard and lead guitar met on some high note, would generate a horrid screech that had the old tympanic membrane crying uncle. The other minor disappointment was that he didn’t play more of his new stuff. He did short set of about 5 songs in the middle, but that was it; other than that, it was all the classics. I would have traded in “The Bitch is Back” (Blech!) for something newer, for sure. But hey, three hours of solid entertainment for free isn’t a bad deal.

Irene found a great hotel to for us to stay at in Calgary, the Hotel Arts. It’s not super cheap, but it’s reasonable, it has some really neat decor, and it’s EASY walking distance to the Saddledome (It’s on 12th and 1st SW, formerly a Holiday Inn, I think). Warning: it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but that changes the moment you walk through the door. Highly recommended.

Exactly a week later, we were taking another half day off to travel to Regina to see the Rolling Stones. Steven flew from Calgary, only a day after having returned from a business trip to India (more on that in another post). We just had time to collect him from Irene’s sister’s house, grab some pizza, go over to Aaron’s, to meet him and Jamie, his girlfriend, eat, and take off for the concert.

We decided to drive as far as Aaron’s work parking spot downtown and walk the rest of the way to Taylor Field, which turned out to be a fairly wise choice. We were later told that the lineups to get on the shuttle buses were very long and anyone who parked close to Taylor Field didn’t get away very quickly when the concert was over.

The concert was great. We had a great night for weather. A light jacket or fleece was enough to keep a person warm, although Mick complained at one point that he was a bit chilly and went to put on a long-sleeved shirt. I can’t imagine how he was cold, given the amount of aerobic exercise he was getting. The old bugger’s in pretty good shape, I would have to say, and Charlie’s holding up pretty well, too, considering that drumming for two hours straight has to be a bit strenuous for a fella his age. Keith on the other hand … he had his first on-stage cigarette at the beginning of the third song, and many more after that. I think he pretty much sold his soul a few decades ago, but unlike Dorian Grey, it ain’t his portrait that’s aging.

Even if the band wasn’t great – and they were pretty impressive – you had to be impressed by the sheer enormity of the production. Seventy five trailer-loads of equipment makes for a big stage. And when you start to consider just how many people that must involve, especially because they have two full stages and crews that leapfrog one another from venue to venue (The stage in Missoula Montana was being torn down and heading for Chicago as the Regina stage was being assembled).

Rolling Stones Stage

Rolling Stones Stage

And this pathetic little image of the stage, ladies and gents, is all I can show you of the concert because cameras were forbidden. I did take my cell phone with me, though, and when the security guard asked me if it took pictures, I said “no” and he didn’t question it. The irony of this is that the previous week, every man and his monkey were taking pictures at the Elton John concert, but I had forgotten my camera, and I didn’t take my cell to that event. So here are some shots I stole off the Internet (but they are actually from the concert we saw):


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