The man who wrote Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is about to say “hello” to Red Deer for the first time ever.
But getting Rocket Man singer Elton John to cool his (Bennie and the) Jets in Central Alberta for an April 25 performance at the Centrium took seven months of negotiation.
“We’ve been working tirelessly with (concert promoter) Live Nation to get the message out that we can put on a premier event with a huge artist like Elton John,” said Erin Gobolos, marketing manager for Westerner Park.
“We had to convince them that we have the capacity. We have a premier facility, great staff and a great city,” Gobolos added — with enough hotels and restaurants to serve fans who are bound to arrive from Edmonton, Calgary and beyond for the local concert.
“This is a great opportunity for Westerner Park and for Red Deer,” added Gobolos, who believes that Jerry Seinfeld’s successful appearance at the 6,000-seat Centrium last fall helped Westerner Park secure another world-class act.
She believes the chances of snagging international entertainers will increase when the Centrium is expanded by 1,000 seats by this fall.
With John’s upcoming concert, she believes the city will have another occasion to demonstrate that “we have the best of both worlds — big-city services, combined with small-town hospitality.”
Much of Red Deer was abuzz on Tuesday with the news that the internationally famous performer will be bringing his five decades of greatest hits to the Centrium for a solo show. John is taking a break from his Las Vegas show to embark on a smaller centre tour that will also stop at Lethbridge and Grande Prairie.
“There is a huge vibe in the city about this,” said Gobolos, “Absolutely, we’ll be attracting (out-of-town) people. This is definitely a huge tourist event for Red Deer.”
Red Deer Chamber president Maureen McMurtrie predicted a “fantastic economic spin-off” from the concert for the local hospitality industry. “Anytime we can bring on an attraction as big as this it helps our local businesses.”
Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling said, “We are very excited that Red Deer is able to attract one of the most successful artists of all time. We look forward to a fabulous evening of music and song.”
It will be John’s first ever appearance in Red Deer.
His concerts are known for leaving people dancing and singing along to such classic 1970s and ‘80s tunes as Philadelphia Freedom, Crocodile Rock, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, Someone Saved My Life Tonight, Levon, The Bitch is Back, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, Island Girl, Little Jeannie, I’m Still Standing, Sad Songs (Say So Much), Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word, and Your Song.
The British singer is one of the top-selling artists of all time, with 35 gold and 25 platinum albums, 29 consecutive Top 40 hits, and more than 250-million records sold worldwide.
John’s rewritten 1997 version of Candle in the Wind, to honour the late Princess Diana, was the biggest selling single of all time.
Tickets to the Red Deer concert are $91.50 or $151.50 (plus service fees) and will go on sale Friday through Ticketmaster. There’s an eight-ticket limit per customer.