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Elton John glitters at Duluth concert

How to out-flare the bedazzled king -- or rather, knight. Elton John fans packed into the most-chattered-about concert in Amsoil Arena's brief history with feather boas, floor-length sequined coats,

Elton John
Elton John played to a crowd of about 7,600 at Amsoil Arena in Duluth on May 6. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)
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How to out-flare the bedazzled king -- or rather, knight.

Elton John fans packed into the most-chattered-about concert in Amsoil Arena's brief history with feather boas, floor-length sequined coats, novelty sunglasses, platform shoes and glitter for the sold-out show on Friday night.

Sir Elton John himself came on stage about a minute into the synthesizer intro to "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding." He wore a black coat with tails, a colorful juke box, piano keys and a guitar on the back, a maroon silk shirt, and tuxedo pants with single matching maroon stripes down the outside legs. Glittery notes decorated the front of the coat. His glasses had red-tinted lenses.

According to Duluth Entertainment Convention Center officials, there were about 7,200 tickets sold. There was a large double-sided screen hung on both sides of the stage. A wall lit with individual changing bulbs was glowing like a Lite-Brite.

Victoria Peterson, 24, found oversized tinted sunglasses with decorative frames on eBay, under the heading "Elton John sunglasses." She was at the concert with her mom -- just two years after seeing Elton John pair with Billy Joel for a double-wardrobe-change show where she had nosebleed seats.

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"Elton John was on my bucket list," said Peterson, who came to Duluth from the Twin Cities area. "I really wanted to see him -- well, before he died."

Elton John was light on conversation, heavy on the piano. He would play, every once in awhile turning to raise his eyebrows and grin at the audience. At the end of a song he would jump off his bench and point at individuals standing in the front rows, smile with his famous gap-toothed grin and mouth "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

His first song to really whip the audience into a froth was "Levon," then "Tiny Dancer."

The man of few words said: "This song has a really good chorus if you want to help me out," then kicked into "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."

His songs had extra long instrumentals, like remixes on the B-side of a cassette tape. "Rocket Man" lasted about 20 minutes and Elton John went optional with the high notes, usually leaving them to the audience and taking the low harmony.

It's hard to believe he was at the royal wedding last week, and now he's in Duluth, noted Rhonda Grussendorf.

He hit "I Guess That's Why they Call it the Blues," the tune Jeri Cummins and Danae Lambert of Barnum were waiting for. The lifelong fans of EJ both wore boas and Cummins had a tiara in her blonde hair.

"Brings back memories," Cummins said. "This is a super star. There are very few people I'd spend the money for. Most of the other ones are dead."

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There were plenty of emotions going around the arena. Terri Franson of Superior and friend Lida Malmgren of Bayfield were most looking forward to "Your Song."

"We're going to cry," Franson said. "I've got my first friend, my sister with me."

Fan Elsie Kovala of Duluth had tears of frustration before the show even started. She had purchased one ticket from Ticketmaster and another from a secondary seller. But the one from the secondary seller didn't seem to exist when she got to the ticket window. Her husband was ready to bow out until they found someone in the lobby selling tickets. They hadn't planned to sit together anyway.

"I just think he does such nice music," she said. "A couple of those are tear jerkers."

Christa Lawler is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.
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