Friday, 29 October 2010

Elton John and Leon Russell.

Elton John, The Roundhouse

Elton John opened up this year's BBC Electric Proms last night, playing live at The Roundhouse* in London. Starting with a few of his older ballads, he was pretty subdued, nothing at all like the Elton John showman machine you would expect. Playing Tiny Dancer provoked a near riot, with one man apparently going on bended knee to propose to his girlfriend. Totally awesome.

After an appearance from Plan B, who sang a decent version of I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues, Elton introduced Leon Russell, a songwriter and session musician who he collaborated with back in the early 1970s. Rumer Willis came on and sang This Masquerade, which Russell wrote, with all the stage presence of a dead pigeon. And then Elton and Russell proceeded to play the entire of their lengthy new album, song after song.

Elton John and Leon Russell, The Roundhouse

The crowd started getting itchy at this point, with the guy next to me tweeting several angry tweets that are too rude to repeat, along the lines of, 'I didn't pay my ticket money to come and see Elton do his entire new album'.

But Russell is clearly a master songwriter and despite the usual frustrating boredom that goes along with new album material, especially when the performer has a catalogue as exciting as Elton John's, it was enjoyable to watch two clearly top-class musician and songwriters perform.  Apparently in ill health, it was a privilege to see Russell perform songs such as the wonderful A Song For You. Check out this clip of him singing it. Utter dudism. An enjoyable evening for me, but I could see how hardcore Elton John fans might leave feeling shortchanged.

*Read on for my rant about The Roundhouse and their ticketing policy.

I have to moan here. Every single time I buy tickets for gigs at The Roundhouse I am messed around. Last night, I turned up to pick up my tickets with the bank card I booked them on to be told, 'Sorry, you need photo ID to pick these up.' When I freaked out slightly and said, 'Look, I have the confirmation email on my phone, here' I was told, 'You can have half an hour to get photo ID and come back and you're lucky I'm giving you that.' Er, really? I paid £57 for two tickets and I'm lucky you're giving me the chance to pick them up?

Luckily I live a mile away from The Roundhouse so could jump in a taxi and get my passport (although that cost me £15), but there were others who weren't so lucky; a middle-aged woman was shaking and swearing into her phone because she couldn't get in. She didn't really strike me as the ticket tout type.

Last year when I bought 4 tickets to the Electric Proms to see Smokey Robinson I had 2 tickets cancelled a few days before the gig and refunded straight back to my card, with a curt email from The Roundhouse saying they were trying to stop selling tickets on. My two friends whose tickets they were luckily managed to buy them back, but isn't that insane ticketing policy?

Another time I was refused to pick up tickets to see Q-Tip at The Roundhouse until a couple of hours before the performance, again because I might 'sell them on'. Er no, they're for my friends. And you're really messing me around here.

Reselling tickets in this country is not illegal even if I wanted to do that but I don't: I buy tickets because I'm a music fan. Get over it, The Roundhouse. You are not protecting music fans here, you're penalising them. And at the very least don't bullishly enforce your stupid policies on people who you can see are genuine. Oh, and your staff SUCK. 'Lucky' to be allowed half an hour to pick up my tickets? I'll bite my tongue here. Thanks for reading.


  1. Dear Caroline, Tiny Dancer is my favourite Elton song. "Stage presence of a dead pigeon"... hilarious!! Have a great weekend xx

  2. I've only been to the Roundhouse once and can't remember having troubles, but how totally rubbish! They must teach their staff to be a-holes, it must be horrid to work in a place that should be fun only to spend all your time being nasty to people. Glad you enjoyed Elton anyway

    ps we must live quite close to each other, if you are at chalk farm. We are on Parliament Hill, only a 15-20 min walk!