Wrap up Pride with a technically perfect Elton John tribute show

Friday, July 15, 2011 14:26
Posted in category In the News, Upcoming Shows

You don’t want to miss this show, featuring songs from EJ’s 1970-75 catalog, this Sunday at Anthology

by MORGAN M. HURLEY – SDGLN ASSISTANT EDITOR

SAN DIEGO — If you are one who tends to feel all your Pride on Saturday and relax and kick back on Sunday, is there a treat in store for you, although standing on your feet maybe involved.

This Sunday, at 7 pm, there is an alternative way for you to extend or close out your weekend of Pride celebrations, by spending it with Elto

Elton – The Early Years (ETEY) is a tribute show that is coming this Sunday to Anthology in Little Italy.

Whether you are a rabid, lifetime fan of Elton John or were just a heavy listener of the (album oriented rock) AOR radio of the early 1970′s, you will be completely entertained.

Elton and three of his very memorable bandmates of the era are brought to life by four seasoned musicians; Kenny Metcalf as Elton John, Joe Alessandro on drums as Nigel Olsson, Bobby H.Q. Storm on bass as Dee Murray, and Dean Cooper on guitar as Davey Johnstone.

Who can forget the outrageous props and outfits that were all about Elton John during his stage performances and on his record jackets in those days? He even sang about them … electric boots and mohair suits … and a concert at Dodger Stadium in the mid-70′s produced a Dodger baseball uniform, with full bling.

That stage presence and the costumes embodied that period of Elton John’s career and helped skyrocket him to fame every bit as much as his melodic handiwork complemented by his songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin. The combination of all those things made him a superstar of iconic proportions.

This is the Elton John who just a few years before had been Reginald Dwight; a frumpy young bloke who had adapted a new name before releasing his first album in 1969 in the UK, an album that got little attention on this side of the pond. A year later, that same guy stepped off a plane in Los Angeles to play his first gig in the USA — at the Troubadour — on a trip that would not only inspire one of his biggest hits, Tiny Dancer, but finally launch his career.

Elton John created his own destiny back in the 1970′s, his songs demanded radio play and soon, domination.

His concerts were larger than life — just like his persona — long before his throat surgeries, hair implants, a misguided marriage and his drug and alcohol rehabilitation; long before both the AIDS epidemic and Broadway reinvented him into the activist musician and billion dollar empire he is today.

From 1969 to 1975 Elton John made ten albums and released a total of 13. He has since released 33 more studio albums, live concerts and other collaborations. But music enthusiasts know those early years are the period where he etched his name into the history books, and that is the man that Metcalf and his colleagues pay tribute to today.

“We currently pull our selections from around 30 songs from eight albums [between 1970 - 1975],” Metcalf recently told San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.

“You can only play so many songs in a two hour set, so we change them around a bit to keep it fun for us and entertaining for those who have seen us before. We are also continually working on new selections to add into the show, but timing is everything for us at this stage of the game.”

“The best tribute band ever”

Be aware that this show is not just some fancy karaoke group — all the music and the singing come from these four gentlemen, but you will put yourself right back where you were in 1974; because everyone in Elton – The Early Years is in full character and costume, and Metcalf’s costumes change several times per show to reflect Elton’s various moods and his style of the time period.

“The tribute show is a technical show and not a classic rock band playing Elton’s material,” said Metcalf. “We really want our show to be an Elton John 1970-75 experience that leaves the people blown away and for those who were there … to relive it.”

Although they primarily choose what are known as “radio cuts” for their shows — since there are plenty of those to pull from — they occasionally pull deeper cuts from some of those beloved early albums and add them to the set, as well, with Metcalf either playing solo on the piano (Sixty Years On) or the full band taking one on (Madman Across the Water, Have Mercy on the Criminal).

“We really strive to perform these as close as we can to how Elton played them, and I continually practice his vocal tones and delivery to continue to improve inflections that are his key voice signatures,” Metcalf continued. “If not … my voice can slip out and sing it sloppy and I don’t want Kenny Metcalf to be heard … I want Elton John to be heard, and that is when it is a real tribute to him and his fans.”

According to Metcalf, putting together the group was at first a bit of a challenge. Members had to be willing to learn Elton John’s most demanding catalog of songs, pick up signature licks, wear costumes, wigs and be willing to play at a moment’s notice. They reached out to friends in the business and after six long months, the current line-up was ready to start rehearsing for their first gig in May of 2010.

Some of them have been playing together for years in other projects, but not all of them have been lifelong Elton John fans. Metcalf’s appreciation eclipses Cooper’s long-held fan status, but bass player Storm was, and still is, traditionally a “metal head” bassist. And although ETEY was the brainchild of Alessandro, he has always been more into progressive rock and jazz, so clearly there was some “getting up to speed” required to make this happen.

Since that first show, they have been busy rehearsing, planning, scheduling, performing and adapting costumes that depict the time period. They’ve also continued to gel as a team, getting tighter not only in their delivery and ability to read each other, but also in the total show experience they provide for their audiences. Thanks to word of mouth and social media, the show has developed quite a following, too.

Click here to read the rest…

Via sdgln.com

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WHAT: Elton – The Early Years
WHEN: Sunday, July 17th, 2011, 7:00pm
TICKETS: $10-$29 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile