Friday, June 14, 2024

“Elton John – It’s a little bit funny” at the Corn Exchange

It is, indeed, “a little bit funny” to report now on one of only a handful of live performances which have occurred at the Corn Exchange since March this year.

On Friday, 30th October, I was very lucky to be in the audience for Martin Kaye’s “Elton John – It’s a little bit funny”. This was staged twice there, in the gap between the first lockdown and the announcement of the second lockdown. The new auditorium structure was in place – specially spaced out rows of seats with perspex screens between household bubbles. Everyone had to wear facemasks, except when taking a sip of their drink.

It turn out to be a huge privilege to enjoy and support a great performance and remind ourselves how important the arts are.

Martin Kaye lived up entirely to his website’s description of him as…

…a high-energy pianist, singer, songwriter, and all-round showman. Shoe-less with socks always mismatched, he exudes energy beyond anything you’ve ever seen, and his distinct showmanship and dynamic flair make every performance, and Martin himself, a genuine tour de force.

The set-up for the show didn’t sound particularly promising: ‘This guy bumped into Elton John in Las Vegas decades ago and presents a show about the great man based on that…”

But actually, it was an incredible show and really did justice as a tribute to Elton John.

It turned out that “bumping into” Elt (“Don’t call me ‘Elt'”) was more than just that. Kaye relates every moment of an unbelievable evening with Elton John.

It started when Martin Kaye tentatively walked up to a plush grand piano in the crowded lobby of a Las Vegas casino one busy evening. Noone seemed to notice as he started playing the piano. Emboldened, he launched into some raunchy Elton John classics. After a while he was conscious of a bloke sitting down beside him and joining in on the keyboard. He carried on until he finally realised that his duet partner was actually Elton John.

There then ensued a fantastic encounter, woven into a great night’s entertainment by Kaye, who told the story of Elton John in amusing and revealing detail.

All this was underpinned by Kaye’s personal story. His father (who, exceptionally, was present in the audience when I attended the show) was a great Elton John fan and played his tunes on the piano in Kaye’s childhood home. Kaye had learnt John’s tunes himself later and was reading a biography of the bespectacled superstar as he performed in “Million Dollar Quartet” at Las Vegas.

It was a great to hear a wide selection of Elton John songs. As the title suggests, the show was book-ended by “Your Song”. I loved hearing the beautiful “Skyline Pigeon”. There was “Bitter Fingers” – which you don’t often hear. “Someone save my life tonight”, “We all fall in love sometimes”, “I guess that why they call it the blues” – as well as the usual hits – “Rocket Man”, “Saturday Night’s alright” etc.

All in all, it was an exceptional night. Martin Kaye is a great entertainer. This was a poignant reminder of the power and precious nature of live performances. We can only hope and trust that there will be plenty more of them soon at the Corn Exchange.

Image above is by INTVGene Flickr CCL