The search was relentless. But at long last, I’ve found the one person in all of Mankato who was not stricken with Elton Fever on Sunday.
Around 7 p.m. on April 22, 2012 -- the precise moment when the cosmos aligned in such a way that Billboard’s third most successful artist of all time thought fitting to swing through south central Minnesota -- an MSU student named Jasmine sounded a decisive “meh” to the Twitterverse: “Let’s go to the Elton John concert in Mankato tonight, said me never.”
Honest, ambivalent, refreshing.
Though, let me be clear: I love Elton John. I sang “Levon” to calm my infant son. Had I been there, I most assuredly would’ve embarrassed myself for the shrieking.
But, I can still appreciate those unimpressed by the hype that gripped Mankato music fans in the weeks leading up to the concert. Hype is a powerful force indeed, and I respect those immune to its clutches.
Every radio station in town, it seemed, had a ticket contest leading up to the concert. The oldies station played Elton all day on Sunday. Searches of social media sites yielded a trove of Elton plaudits and anticipatory messages too numerous to count.
Kara called it an “unforgettable evening.” Anna took a moment to invite “Sir Elton John ... to enjoy our fine city as we are happy to have you.” Mary proclaimed her hatred for “everyone in Mankato” who was at the concert (presumably, because she wasn’t). And Lynda summarized the concert as “fantastic, three hours of pure music.”
Mankato has hosted big concerts before (Bob Dylan and Aerosmith for starters) and will host big concerts in the future. But Elton John is one of those rare acts that crosses genres, overcomes barriers and defies the generational gaps that have left other, perhaps equally talented, artists playing casino gigs and scantly attended auditoriums to the few who remember what the songs sounded like on vinyl.
That “Rocket Man,” however, is still played on oldies stations, pop stations, classic rock stations and college radio stations alike remains a testament to the fact that Elton John is a performer unlike the vast majority of others. That is, he’s one of the few artists that grandmother and granddaughter can share.
He still plays sold-out shows wherever he goes. Even the films that tout his musical arrangements -- “Lion King” most notably and “Gnomeo and Juliet” most recently -- strike gold.
In short, there are preciously few acts who deserve their hype -- and Elton is unequivocally one.