There’s nothing lonelier than a one-man stage invasion. The crowd could spot it coming a mile off – the shady looking character, clearly too old for this sort of thing, sneaking through an unguarded barrier to the side of the stage, glancing furtively around for any onrushing security and then hopping onto the stage as rabble pirate punks Skinny Lister reach the riotous finale of their Camden Rocks set, thinking he’s leading the charge of a mass, kit-crushing pile-on.
He looks around, and nobody’s following him. The crowd look on confused, wondering why a man clearly too old for this sort of thing is suddenly onstage. Thankfully the guitarist seems to know him, gives him a hug and he hops offstage as quickly as he came, off into the cold, regretful night.
What can I say? It was my birthday and I was several Beaumonts in [Ed’s note for irregular readers, a ‘Beaumont’ is a pint of red Rioja in a plastic glass]. It was also the first step in my new life mission – to be more Elton.
You might have seen Rocketman by now, I’ve recently worked on a magazine devoted to classic archive interviews with Reg (in all good magazine stores now, and plenty of frankly shoddy ones too), and we’ll have all come to the same conclusion. Why aren’t we living our lives like Elton? I don’t mean hoofing away more drugs than a Tory leadership contest and demanding that hotel reception stop the wind – although if there’s even the slightest possibility that a phone call could curtail inclement weather, why not give it a go? No, I mean being more belligerent, flamboyant, demanding, confident, generous, ridiculous and life-loving at all times. When we’re not taking a very loud overdose and throwing ourselves in the nearest swimming pool, that is.
You see, we’re all born Elton, but a little bit of the Elton in us dies every day. As children we’re pure Elton – we dress up like princesses and Munchkin mayors, smother ourselves with glitter, throw petulant rolling-on-the-floor tantrums if we don’t get our favourite sherberts, and we believe anything is possible. On tour in Australia once, Elton saw a tram he liked, and got it shipped back to his house in England. So next time you wake up to find you’ve drunk-bought a blow-up Gareth Southgate or pissed another month’s wages away on Foxy Bingo, remember, Elton John once impulse-bought a fucking tram. Feel better? Thought so.
“As children we’re pure Elton – we dress up like princesses and Munchkin mayors, smother ourselves with glitter, throw petulant rolling-on-the-floor tantrums if we don’t get our favourite sherberts, and we believe anything is possible”
We’re endlessly generous as kids too, just as Elton has given the proceeds of all of his singles to charity for decades. And, the most Elton trait we lose as we age is the carefree self-belief – here was a dumpy, balding backroom pianist who decided he was going to play to stadiums dressed as a massive chicken (or Louis XIV, or a musketeer, or Widow Twanky or a short-sighted, piano-playing Rio carnival) and not give one shake of a gigantic powdered wig what the world thinks of him. Elton embodied a godlike lack of shame and self-awareness, much like Michael Gove must have felt every time he denied another teacher a job for having once had a crafty nose-up.
In all regards, Elton is a true totem of our age. In the present climate, why shouldn’t we stomp around demanding shit all the time, no matter how unreasonable? It’s done Nigel Farage no harm. And in terms of rabid music consumption, we’re all Elton now. Historically he would buy multiple copies of every single album ever released, one for each house he owned. He’d devour literally everything, from Bublé to Labradford, a one-man proto-Spotify. Many is the no-mark indie band who’ve had the unexpected Elton call, offering an audience. We should all aspire to hunt out new music with Elton’s relentless passion – he’s the Steve Lamacq with a fucking tram in his house.
So I intend to live the rest of my life always asking myself, what would Elton do? And what would Elton do when standing near an unguarded crowd barrier at a hog-wild Skinny Lister gig, drunk on his birthday? He’d think ‘this needs to be all about me now’. So if you see a man who’s realised you’re never too old for this sort of thing trying to start a stage invasion in future, hop up with him. He’s a rocketman, don’t let him burn out his fuse up there alone.