Elton John and Leon Russell live at the BOK Center

After years of trying and failing, a thirteen year, one cent sales tax increase was approved by a majority of Tulsa voters in 2003 to pay, in part, for a state of the art arena seating 18,000, plus. The measure was approved by a slim margin. Opinion about the sales tax increase, and building a new arena, was split down the middle.

Half of Tulsa, known as the “nay sayers” were adamantly against any tax increase. They talked a whirlwind of hyperbolic smack about how a large, world class arena in downtown Tulsa would be a total failure, and a financial black hole for future generations. Big acts wouldn’t come, they said, and if they did, no one would want to go downtown to see them anyway because tickets would be too expensive, there is no where to park, and [gasp] there are homeless people walking around down there.

Screw you, nay sayers. You were flat wrong on every count. Presently, the BOK Center is 5th in tickets sales in the nation, only outpaced by the likes of Madison Square Garden and the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Another rich fact the nay sayers can put in their pipe and smoke is that the BOK Center is 15th in the world–you heard it, knee-jerkers–15th on planet earth for ticket sales.

After being open for business for two years, I finally got to go see an event at the BOK Center: Leon Russell and Elton John, touring their new album, The Union. It was good. Though short on youthful looks, Leon and Elton left me without a doubt that what they lack in high energy theatrics on stage, they make up for in mastery of their crafts–playing good music.

Neither of these elderly giants of rock ‘n’ roll missed a note or sang one out of tune. Even though they were forgoing some of the higher notes they would hit effortlessly in their salad days, they played to their strengths, letting the chorus of girls on stage do some of the heavy lifting, vocally speaking.

They both played their own classics, like Benny and the Jets, or Leon’s Stranger in a Strange Land that brought down a packed house with deafening cheers. Of course, they played a sampling of their new music.

The idea of Leon Russell and Elton John collaborating to make a record and go on tour probably struck most as an odd union. On the one hand you have a British queen, known for his flamboyant life-style, and on the other, a burly and reclusive country boy from Lawton, Oklahoma. How’s that going to work?

Beautifully. It’s like Elton said, leaning across his obsidian grand piano, pointing at Leon, sitting behind his, “We are going to play some new songs off of our new album, The Union. I think they are some damn good songs, and I hope you do, too.”

Screw you, nay sayers. Oh, did I already say that?

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Posted by on November 13, 2010. Filed under Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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4 Responses to Elton John and Leon Russell live at the BOK Center

  1. osori

    November 13, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Sounds like a great show Collin.To be honest I didn’t know Leon was still with us, but evidence appears to indicate he is.

    Good thing the music was live, had there been a DJ it might have provoked an incident.There are people who don’t like the DJ’s choice of music and assault them. Hard to believe,I know.

    • C.H. McDermott

      November 13, 2010 at 12:35 pm

      You have got to wonder about folks that would disturb a DJ at work. Reprehensible.

      Yes, rumors of Leon’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

  2. A Michael J. Scott

    November 13, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I thought Leon was long since placed on the croak list. Nice to know his name is not there. Great stuff Mr. McDermott. Thanks 🙂

    • C.H. McDermott

      November 13, 2010 at 1:34 pm

      You’re welcome. I aim to please.