Elton John namechecks Disclosure and The Strypes as he receives Brits Icon award
Rod Stewart joined the singer onstage for his first performance since being hospitalised with appendicitis
In his first performance since having to cancel a scheduled show in Hyde Park this summer due to appendicitis, John kicked off with 'I'm Still Standing', followed by 'Your Song'. The concert, filmed for an ITV special to broadcast on September 13, also featured interviews with Plan B, Josh Homme, Ellie Goulding, Ed Sheeran and tennis champion Billie Jean King, for whom John wrote 'Philadelphia Freedom'.
Dermot O'Leary hosted the event and interviewed the singer between each song, covering topics from his early years and first success in the US to his drug and drink addiction, flamboyant clothing and his constant championing of new music. Commenting on his favourite current bands, he singled out Disclosure, James Blake and John Grant among others.
"John Grant's not young but he's new to me and I love his albums," he said. "Disclosure are another band I love, I can't stop listening to their album. And The Strypes, who are signed to my management company.
"As soon as I saw them I wanted to meet them, they're the most exciting band I've seen in years," he added. "They've just got so much energy. If you could plug them into the grid they could power London. I love youth, and it keeps me young,. I love hearing new music, and I feed off it. Like a vampire."
He went on to talk of his own flamboyance and the importance of putting on a show for fans, singling out The Killers as a band who understand the idea. "Brandon makes the effort," he said. "That's one of the reasons they're so popular, they gives fans something special. U2 know about that too. I went to see Coldplay last year and their live show was incredible. I love bands like Little Feat and The Band that didn't have to do it, but I have to get dressed up. Mick Jagger the same. He couldn't on stage in his street clothes, he'd feel naked."
Asked by O'Leary whether he would be upset if his sons Zachary and Elijah, aged two and seven months, came home in their teens drunk or on drugs, John replied: "By then I'll be on a Stannah stairlift and I won't give a fuck."
He also spoke of the advert he answered in NME, looking for songwriters. It came at a time when he was considering quitting music, having performed "cabaret with fish-and-chips and chicken-in-a-basket singers."
"I'd been playing in blues clubs with the likes of Long John Baldry, but I was fed up and I thought there must be more to life than that, so I took a chance on that advert and thank God I did because I met Bernie and the rest is history."
To finish the show, Rod Stewart arrived on stage to present his "dear old mate" with the Icon award. They then performed 1984 hit 'Sad Songs (Say So Much)', from John's album 'Breaking Hearts'. Take That's Gary Barlow, Lulu, Pixie Lott, Maverick Sabre and Liz Hurley were among the audience. Elton John headlines Bestival this weekend. It was feared the show wouldn't go ahead after the singer's recent illness which has seen him cancel the rest of his scheduled UK tour.
Elton John played:
'I'm Still Standing'
'Bennie And The Jets'
'Sad Songs (Say So Much)' [with Rod Stewart]