Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tribeca Film Festival 2011 Opening Night feat. Elton John, April 20, 2011

Finally! I've waited so long for this show and it finally happened, and it was about as surreal as I thought, and by the time Sir Elton John exited the stage, I was so amazed that on the way home I had to figure out whether it actually happened. Oh but it surely did, and it was beautiful.

I woke up extra early Wednesday morning so I could show up to the BMCC Performing Arts Center and pick up my free passes for the screening of the documentary "The Union," which was to be followed by a performance by the Great One himself. The Union is a documentary about the Elton John combination album of the same name, that he did in a collaboration with fellow music God Leon Russell, a man who John says is his greatest inspiration, at least as far as playing the piano is concerned. After waiting in a line for about eight hours (thank the Heavens the people I was standing with were all really cool) I got my passes and was ready for the show.

Before they went into the documentary, the host for the evening Dennis Leary came out to warm up the crowd a bit. He brought out The Bangles who did "Walk Like an Egyptian" with the choir from P.S. 22, it was a cute performance from the kids and the 80s group. After that a couple more people came out to say a few words, including Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal (Robert De Niro is the other co-founder, FYI), and NY native and film industry icon Martin Scorcese. It was cool because even Sir Elton himself came out before the screening, to thank everyone for coming out and to remind them to stick around afterwards. Yea, like we needed to be reminded!

The Union documentary came on after, wonderfully directed by film director Cameron Crowe, who couldn't make it to the screening because he was off filming another movie! Hey, the man has to eat. The documentary follows John and Russell through their creative process, working with different musicians as they put together the collaboration album that was released in October of last year. It's brilliant and heartwarming because you get to see two musical geniuses in their natural habitat. I won't give away too much of it (even if it is a documentary) but if you are a music fan or better yet an Elton John or Leon Russell fan, this would be a great documentary to pick up.

After it was over Rosenthal made it back on stage to introduce the man of the hour, Sir Elton John. He came right on stage and started in on the piano, going right into Tiny Dancer. It was right around then that I was having a hard time even realizing the show was actually happening. To make matters worse, the very next song on his short but extra sweet set was Rocket Man, which is my favorite of his songs, in a tie with Candle In The Wind. I sang Rocket Man while out at a karaoke bar with some friends this past Friday, so it was nice to hear what it was supposed to sound like! He did two songs off The Union album, which I was guessing he would have done. To wrap up the five song set, he talked about how NYC was his favorite place to play (of course!), and said that this next one is dedicated to you; the perfect set up for Your Song. A great way to leave the crowd with a great short set. I can only imagine that he would have played for longer had the weather been warmer, but it was a bit chilly, so really a 5 song set is a lot when you're playing the piano with cold hands and singing outdoors. Sir Elton John is one of the few remaining legit living legends, and I'm quite glad I got to see him at such a spectacular event. Hopefully you check out the Tribeca Film Festival, it runs until May 1st.

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