Sir Elton John reflects on first solo show in Edinburgh

Elton John performing at Easter Road Stadium in 2005. Picture: Colin Robertson

Elton John performing at Easter Road Stadium in 2005. Picture: Colin Robertson

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HE’S known the world over as the Rocket Man, but in June Sir Elton John returns to where it all began – Edinburgh.

The Festival Theatre in Nicolson Street was still called the Empire when Sir Elton first played the Capital in his own right in 1972.

Elton John at the Playhouse theatre in Edinburgh, June 1984. Picture: Bill Stout

Elton John at the Playhouse theatre in Edinburgh, June 1984. Picture: Bill Stout

Forty-four years later, he will make a welcome return to play an open-air concert at Meadowbank Stadium – his first live performance in the city for ten years.

Speaking exclusively to the Evening News, Sir Elton reflected: “The concert on June 25 will be my 15th in the remarkable city of Edinburgh, which also happens to be where my long-time guitarist and music director Davey Johnstone is from.”

One of seven concerts in his Wonderful Crazy Night Tour, promoting his new album of the same name, the Meadowbank gig will find the pop icon back in the city where he did his first ever “truly solo show” at the Playhouse in 1976.

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I can remember some wonderful nights in the Edinburgh Playhouse, starting with my first in September 1976, which scared me to death as it was my first solo full concert ever.

Sir Elton

“I can remember some wonderful nights in the Edinburgh Playhouse, starting with my first in September 1976, which scared me to death as it was my first solo full concert ever.

“But the audience was so warm and welcoming, as Edinburgh has always been for me, that I came off stage feeling exhilarated. It was a great theatre to perform in.”

However, some years before that, Capital music lovers had already taken the young Elton John to their hearts.

He said: “I have always looked forward to concerts in Edinburgh. I have performed in theatres, football stadiums and even a castle since my first show at the Empire Theatre in 1972.

Elton John smiles during his Edinburgh Castle gig. Picture: Susan Burrell

Elton John smiles during his Edinburgh Castle gig. Picture: Susan Burrell

“And even before that, here’s a little-known fact – in 1967, I filled in for Simon Dupree And The Big Sound’s ailing keyboard player for a spell and we played some shows in Edinburgh.”

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The Meadowbank concert, which will be fully seated, holds another special significance for Sir Elton, whose hits include Pinball Wizard, Candle in the Wind, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, Your Song and Sacrifice.

As the 69-year-old singer, who has given more than 4000 performances in a career spanning in excess of 50 years, revealed when the tour was announced: “The simple truth is I want to spend more time with my family, and I am only too aware of just how precious the time ahead is.

Elton John plays to a sell-out crowd at Edinburgh Castle. Picture: Susan Burrell

Elton John plays to a sell-out crowd at Edinburgh Castle. Picture: Susan Burrell

“My sons are growing up so quickly; their early years are just flying by and I want to be there with them. So this concert will give me the chance to thank the Scottish audiences who have been so faithful to me over these many decades.

“We cannot get to everyone, but I am going to try.”

In the past, the singer, who has won multiple Grammy and Brit Awards and sold more than 250 million records worldwide, has played Edinburgh Castle and Easter Road.

Looking ahead to June, Sir Elton added: “I am excited to be doing my first concert at Meadowbank Stadium and will be happy to be in Scotland once again.”

• Elton John: Wonderful Crazy Night Tour, Meadowbank Stadium, London Road, June 25, 5pm, £44.50-£89.25, 0844-847 2441.

lrudden@edinburghnews.com