More to Elton John show than hits

John Mahon, who plays percussion in Elton John's band, keeps time during a 2010 show. Photo: Supplied
John Mahon, who plays percussion in Elton John's band, keeps time during a 2010 show. Photo: Supplied
Fans will see two Elton Johns when he takes to the Dunedin stage next year, both the storyteller and the hit maker, his bandmate says.

Non pre-sale tickets are being released today for Sir Elton's February 4, 2020 Forsyth Barr Stadium show as part of his farewell tour.

American percussionist John Mahon, who has played with the Rocket Man since 1997, told the Otago Daily Times the finality made these shows sentimental.

''In a lot of these places we have to go: 'Well we'll probably never come back here again'. The audience knows, too, that this will likely be the last time they will see the guy.''

While cities blur together on tour, Dunedin was locked in his mind.

''I do remember because there was a really big storm. We were in a little hotel on the ocean. I remember sitting out there watching this black seaweed bashing around.''

Mahon plays drums and other percussion for the band as well as providing vocal harmonies.

While growing up in Canton, Ohio, Mahon settled behind the drum kit as a way of making a living.

He was given some vocal parts when he joined the band in 1997, but became trusted on more complex tunes as bandmates realised his ability, he said.

Mahon (63) has a wife back in Los Angeles which meant a lot of video conversations.

His favourite songs to perform were Levon and Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.

Fans could expect a very ''informational'' show next year.

''Elton tells a lot of stories, talks a lot about the past. It's a long show, too, easily two and a-half hours.

''Every song is a hit practically.''

Sir Elton was a perfectionist and professional, he said.

''He knows exactly what he wants from everyone.

''He gives every bit of himself when he does a gig, even when he's not feeling well.''

He had moments when he would get upset, but ''who doesn't'', he said.

''I can clown around with him back stage, but as soon as you get on stage he's not that person anymore.''

The goodbye tour would last about three years, which was ''gruelling''.

However, he said, the band was able to take the occasional month off to keep them sane.

''As we get older it gets a little tougher. We're lucky to travel well and stay in nice hotels.''

Earlier this week many fans were left disappointed as 55,000 people tried to buy tickets to Sir Elton's Mission Estate show in Napier, for which there were only 25,000 tickets available.

jono.edwards@odt.co.nz

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