AS the final notes echoed through the crowd at Glastonbury, marking the end of an era for the legendary Elton John, fans and music enthusiasts couldn’t help but reflect on the iconic singer’s remarkable career. While the spotlight may have been on his last show in England, it’s worth delving into the past and revisiting the momentous occasion when Elton John played his first gig in Wales back in 1970.
Last night, Glastonbury witnessed the culmination of a celebrated journey as Elton bid farewell to his UK fans. The festival, renowned for its vibrant atmosphere and eclectic lineup, has become a national treasure. It embraces the familiar, like the Pyramid Stage, which has stood as a beacon of light, and the exuberant performers who entertain with their circus-like antics. But Glastonbury also welcomes newcomers from various walks of life, adding fresh energy and surprises each year.
Looking back to the early years, the festival’s spirit of embracing new talent and unique performances was already evident. In 1970, a young Elton John graced the stage at Narberth’s Queens Hall, a venue etched in the memories of Pembrokeshire residents. The gig, held on June 13, marked his first-ever concert in Wales. Tickets were a mere 12 shillings and sixpence (60p), a far cry from the current prices for his farewell tour.
Back then, Elton John, referred to as “Chart and Top of the Pops star,” performed with his backing group, former members of the Spencer Davis Group. The Queens Hall audience was in for a treat, as they experienced one of the earliest renditions of the timeless classic “Your Song,” a track that would catapult Elton to international fame.
This historic gig at the Queens Hall was somewhat shrouded in rumor until recent times. Thanks to a local community history project, an original flyer and a wealth of incredible memories resurfaced. The confirmation from Elton John himself, during his final Welsh performance, added a touch of validation to this cherished event.
Those who were fortunate enough to witness Elton’s mesmerizing show at the Queens Hall still recall the magic of that summer evening. As the sun set and the excitement in the air reached a crescendo, Elton took the stage. His first words, now etched in the annals of music history, were a playful complaint about the piano being out of tune. But with his talent and ingenuity, he turned it into an unforgettable performance. The audience watched in awe as Elton played with his head, feet, and hands, captivating them with his genius and showmanship.
The significance of that evening in Narberth became apparent as Elton’s career flourished. The Queens Hall gig served as a stepping stone, propelling him toward stardom. His subsequent visits to Pembrokeshire, including his supporting role for Long John Baldry at the Riverside Club in Haverfordwest, solidified his connection with Wales.
Now, as Elton John bids farewell to his legions of fans, memories of that unforgettable night in Narberth intertwine with the grand finale of his illustrious career. From the intimate setting of the Queens Hall to the monumental stages of Glastonbury, his journey has been one of constant reinvention and artistic brilliance.
As the cycle of life spins on, Glastonbury will continue to evolve, welcoming new talents and captivating performances. But let us remember the timeless magic Elton John brought to Wales in 1970 and the indelible mark he has left on the world of music. His final bow may have been taken, but the legacy of this extraordinary artist will endure, resonating with audiences for generations to come.