50 YEARS AGO: When Elton John played Boston's Gliderdrome
That gig – a landmark show in the Glider’s history, but far from the only one – took place 50 years ago today (Friday, February 24).
The venue had been hand-picked by Elton for his latest British tour, which preceded the release of his seventh studio album, the seminal Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. When speaking to The Standard, he told them he had ‘insisted’ the tour came to the Glider, describing it as ‘the best venue in the east’.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the show, we are reproducing our report from the time – as penned by Bob Neish.
In it, we learn which track got the audience on its feet, the cover that ‘brought the house down’, and why Elton’s night was easily better than his previous visit to Boston …
Elton John made a sensational start to his latest British concert tour at Boston Gliderdrome on Saturday.
And on this showing he should be leaving a lot of happy audiences around the country by the end of his month-long stint.
Elton had been looking forward to visiting Boston for a long time. Boston had been waiting just as eagerly for a chance to see the superstar in action.
So when the two finally met something special was sure to happen. And happen it did, with Elton and his band supplying an hour and a half of superb music, and the packed crowd lapping up every second of it.
Dressed in an outrageously colourful outfit, Elton John has the appearance of a loveable extrovert, the showman supreme.
But while he is the star, the name that receives all the accolades, the three musicians behind him should not be forgotten. They play just as important a part in creating the sound that has gained him world wide acclaim.
Davey Johnstone has left behind his folk days as Noel Murphy’s accompanist, to blossom into one of the most exciting young electric guitarists around. Drummer Nigel Olsson thunders away, almost hidden behind his massive kit, while bass man Dee Murray is content to remain unobtrusively in the background.
The music was flawless – their own unique blend of country funk and rock ‘n’ roll. But it is impossible to do it justice in print. You have to be there to experience it for yourself.
The set was cleverly balanced, between the sad, wistful songs like “Daniel” and “Rocket Man”, and the out and out rockers: “Teacher I Need You”, “Honky Cat” and so on.
“Your Song”, the one that launched Elton to fame was included, along with material from his latest album and the as-yet-unreleased “Love Lies Bleeding”.
For an hour the audience sat contentedly, soaking up the sounds, maybe stunned by the sheer brilliance of the music.
All the time one could sense the atmosphere building up, and when the band broke into the opening bars of “Crocodile Rock” the place finally erupted.
The crowd leapt to their feet moving instinctively to the irresistible piece of early-sixties rock that has given Elton his biggest hit to date.
From there on it was non-stop rocking excitement, right up to the last encore, a incredible version of Steve Wonder’s “Superstition” that bought the house down.
Fortunately, Elton John is a superstar without a super-ego. He is modest and self-critical, and above all a self-confessed perfectionist.
Despite having what was possibly the best sound system ever to be used at the Glider, he still needed to be be reassured that the music came over OK.
Elton has recently started his own record company, Rocket Records, because he says the larger concerns are “corrupt”.
He explained: “Maybe I’m being idealistic, but I want to give new talent a fair deal. The aim is to record young, up and coming groups who would not normally get the chance.”
First signing for the label is Long Dancer, a four-man group (that included future Eurythmics member Dave Stewart) who opened Saturday night’s show with a well-received set of acoustic numbers in the CSNY/America vein. Elton has great hopes for them in the future.
Of the tour, he says: “This time I took a personal interest in where we were going, instead of leaving it to the agents. We wanted to cover as many areas as possible, and I insisted on appearing at Boston, as the Gliderdrome is the best venue in the east.”
He remembers with amusement his first visit to Boston some six or seven years ago.
“I was playing at the time with some obscure backing group,” he went on. “It was snowing, the van broke down just outside Boston, and we ended up walking. It was murder.
"Since than I’ve been dying to come back, and arrive in style.”
The white Rolls waiting outside was ample proof that his wish had been granted.