Time still stands before me

Sorry I’ve been so absent lately. (More details soon.) I wanted to blog about this, though, because I’d been thinking about it out loud here, and because it finally happened! And since Richard Armitage attended a huge concert …


I bought this ticket for April 28, 2020 on October 29, 2019. The event was postponed twice and at one point, they offered to refund the ticket. I finally attended the concert on April 2, 2022. It’s a sign of the times — when I bought it, they insisted on sending a paper ticket, but by the time of the actual concert, everything was app / smartphone based.


I got a hotel room in Milwaukee (that was not part of my original plan back then — at the time I planned this trip, I would have had to get back the same night). This was, I believe, the first time I’ve slept away from home since I went to London for Vanya. The whole experience of packing — which I used to do all the time, sometimes 2-3 times per month — felt disconcertingly unfamiliar after so long.

I have a lot of sense memories from that day — zipping along down the highway to the big city in my little car in the sunshine, the smell of the city itself, the dampness of the spring melt as the day wore on and greyed over. I had reserved parking both at the hotel and at the venue, which I had worried was overkill but turned out to be the right decision.


Taken in the hotel parking ramp. I’m putting this here for Esther. I don’t think it’s the Greek Freak’s actual plate. The Bucks had bee in Los Angeles the night before, and they played at home the next evening.


I stayed at the Pfister (the closest I could still get, booking the week before, but I got an excellent last-minute deal). It’s the last historic hotel property in downtown Milwaukee.


The hotel lobby. Not my photo. It very much had that same turn of the 20th century look as the Palmer House in Chicago the last time I was there, although the scale is nowhere near as grand.


The hotel was completely overwhelmed, something else I hadn’t reckoned with. I was late arriving and it took me an hour to get into my room. So I didn’t have much time to enjoy the luxury. Just as well, perhaps; I only had time to occupy myself with how to get to the venue and not to get nervous. Apparently there are almost no more actual cabs in Milwaukee; everyone uses Lyft or Uber (sic). Since I’m really uncomfortable with those — I would never hitchhike in a big city, I mean, what are people thinking? — I decided to use my venue parking after all, which turned out to be less hassle than I had anticipated.

I got to the Fiserv Forum about an hour early, not knowing what to expect and not wanting to be rushed.


I didn’t find the Fiserv all that impressive — either in construction or location. It was fine. I think it’s mostly just the place where the Bucks play. But then, northeastern Wisconsin does not love Milwaukee. Honestly, it’s insane how bad the highways into the city and the streets around the stadium are. It would be comical if the counties around the city didn’t eat up the vast majority of the state’s road repair budget every year. (You may or may not be familiar with the local saying “in Wisconsin there are two seasons — winter and road repair.)


It was easy to get in and I wandered around a bit.


This is the second concessions stand I saw — the first expressed its intentions more baldly: “COLD BEER”. “Drink Wisconsinbly” is the state alcohol marketing slogan. It clouds the issue a bit in my opinion, because Wisconsinites are the heaviest drinkers in the U.S. and the pun on the “drink responsibly” slogan tends to hide that. If you drink like a Wisconsinite, you won’t be able to drive home. Anyway, there didn’t seem to be many takers. I was struck by the general sobriety of the crowd.


My “anti-stuff” mood lifted for the night, and so I bought a mug, a souvenir program, and a poster with this motif:


The new dates are printed on this, so it’s a more accurate souvenir than the ticket. I just bought a cheap frame for it. This will be the first time since leaving Tampa that I will have freedom to display my own art and memorabilia.


And then I went to look for my seat. I had checked about a week before, and I could have tried to resell my ticket and buy a seat on the floor. I decided in the end that would be too much hassle. It wasn’t an entirely sold out show, and the last minute prices hadn’t risen to the levels they would have several years ago, but my ticket almost held its value. I had a nice enough location — it would have been mid-court, were it a basketball game, and about twenty feet up off the floor. The seat itself was really uncomfortable, though — literally not enough space for my femurs and no place to put my feet. I’ve been on airplanes with more space per seat than that. Like most people, I spent the entire concert half standing, half leaning on the back of my chair. A sign in the stadium asked us to dance in our chairs, not in the aisles.


My view of the stage.

So, lots of logistics here, but remember, I’ve never done this before! So it was all new to me.

There was not a lot of dancing going on that evening except in the very front rows — the $1800 and up seats — and had I been a superfan, I would definitely have wanted to be in that section, as Sir Elton did interact with them quite a bit. It was also cool to the see the people who were cosplaying him. Still, on the whole, it was kind of a low energy evening.

The opening of the concert.

I totally got it (I felt the same way). The spring dawdled in arriving here, and the delayed thaw, along with COVID and all the other reasons for fatigue meant — I had the feeling — that a lot of us were just relieved to have finally made it to the concert. I had the impulse to say Shehecheyanu. It was probably not a coincidence that the song of the evening with the most enthusiastic audience participation was “I’m Still Standing.”

I was initially astounded at the volume level of the concert, but when I play back, it doesn’t seem all that bad. People were really excited, for sure. He wasn’t the most high energy performer that night, either. But then a lot’s happened to him since he sold me this ticket. SueBC and I were speculating two years ago whether he’d actually be able to make himself stop touring, since it’s clear that he adores it (and it’s quite lucrative — he was the world’s top tour earner in 2019, and at that point he was grossing $1.4M for each concert date). But he seems quite ready now to slow down — and he’s had COVID in the interval, and also a full hip replacement, things that would slow down even much younger people. It’s completely plausible that he’d want to spend some time with his husband and sons. I wondered if he thought the sun was maybe going down on him, if he quit touring, but he seems to have decided now that it won’t and that there’s still plenty do without the screaming crowds.

(I am posting this opening vid but apologize ahead of time for the quality. In the end I decided I’d rather experience the concert myself than film it, so these are all pretty horrible vids and you don’t have to watch them, I’m not offended! I’m hoping for a “farewell tour” DVD or something of the like, and since EJ is the master of merchandising, I’m quite optimistic.) Here’s the setlist, incidentally.



The atmosphere on both sides was warm, and if I had to say how I spent the evening, it was really two and half hours of 50,000 people singing all of Elton’s favorite songs with our idol. He talked a bit about his career, about how the US had “got” his music before the UK did, how he appreciated all the support we’d given him. He mentioned playing Alpine Valley and the Bradley Center (and kindly omitted the infamous appearance in Milwaukee that most people in Wisconsin still remember, with varying degrees of bemusement).



The encores began with “Your Song” — unfortunately marred by the failure of the backup band to play in the same key as Elton was singing / playing for the first third of their entry — and ended with Elton’s latest hit with Dua Lipa. It was a weird moment just because one thing I always notice about his performances on youtube is how much attention he gives to his fellow performers. His voice is definitely not the same as it was forty and more years ago, but he’s still got plenty there. And he still really and obviously enjoys performing and shares that joy with the audience. And that’s the main thing.


The visuals were really impressive, I thought, and Elton had three costume changes, including coming out at the end in a bathrobe.

Like this one.

And there was plenty of this, which I thought was cool, never having experienced it before:


Cheap fun. Although I felt sorry for the huge squad of people who were waiting for us to leave the venue so they could sweep up.

This has been, from my perspective, a somewhat lackluster post. I’ve been trying to write it for about four weeks at this point and so I think I’m just going to leave it here — I am not going to go back and talk about my reactions to each song or anything. But I think it’s symptomatic of my general feelings at the moment: simultaneously inchoate and shocky. A lot’s been going on here and I’ll do another post soon with some updates.

I remember when I read the word “juddering” for the first time: in a pornographic novel, describing the physical element of ejaculation. But it has struck me more than once that the word applies to my own situation at present. Or maybe “sputtering.” I have emotions, they creep up on me, they burst out of me, I sit on them, I feel numb, I don’t know what to say, I only know what to do and so I keep on doing those things. I imagine it will be this way for a while.

~ by Servetus on May 30, 2022.

22 Responses to “Time still stands before me”

  1. I am glad that you finally got to see EJ, the hotel lobby looks fab. I hope also that you are all right.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It was neat. I’ll go back some time for a weekend, maybe during deer hunting. The nicest part was the great breakfast on Sunday morning! It had been a long time since I’d done that.

      I’m basically okay: just a lot of big deal stuff happening.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. so happy for you, you finally got it ! wonderful singer for sure I guess you enjoyed so much. Great day for you and all EJ fans. This “no farewell” of EJ was a piece of good news after the news of DM Fletch demise which I felt so sad for. Thnaks for sharing Servetus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes — the news of Fletch’s death was really upsetting. I have had DM on hard rotation for years.


  3. Yay, you finally got to go! I took my BFF to see him pre-COVID at the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State as a birthday present. He was high energy when he needed to be that night but mellow, too. I most remember “Rocket Man” and “Saturday Night’s Alright,” which I was happily surprised he performed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He wasn’t sleepy or anything. He got a lot of energy going in some of the up tempo songs. But he spent a lot more time seated than I thought he might, and he was clearly tired at the end. I will probably most remenber “Saturday Night’s Alright” and “I’m Still Standing.”

      I’m really glad I went. This is really not my scene and the expense was kind of nuts, but I’m glad I had the experience and I’m glad I had the chance to experience him in person.

      (And I wondered if he has to ice his hands after a concert)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So nice to see you finally went to that show. It sounds like a beautiful concert. I heard that EJ will be in June in Paris (11 & 12). As i’m not a big fan, I’d rather save my money to see Midnight Oil for their last tour (Paris, in July). 1st concert since Covid…

    Liked by 3 people

    • I found the price absolutely exorbitant. It was worth it to me in this particular weird context that I’m in — but I don’t know he finds this many people who want to pay that much to see him in city after city. Well, I kind of do. He is definitely someone who loves entertaining and I didn’t feel cheated in any way. But it was a lot of (too much) money.

      I hope Midnight Oil is everything you want it to be!


  5. It is good to hear you got to see the Elton John concert finally. I had seen a program on Wisconsin PBS a few years ago about the Pfister hotel, would be a experience to stay there from the program. I was in shock to hear of Fletch from DM death, so sad. DM is one of the groups that I thought would be a great show to go and see.

    Liked by 2 people

    • it’s very much a hotel of that time (i.e., the rooms aren’t huge) but the decor, especially in the public areas, is definitely worth the visitor’s attention.

      There was a tour film of Depeche Mode made in 2019 — “Spirits in the Forest” — that I can recommend.


      • Maybe if I ever get to Milwaukee I will have to stay at that hotel. I knew about the Depeche Mode Spirits in the Forest but have yet to see it. I have watch some of the concert footage from that tour. I still like to watch 101 tour footage from the Rose Bowl with Alan Wilder.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I found what i enjoyed most about the film was what fans were saying about what the band had meant to them. Although there was great concert footage, too. Let me know if you ever get around to it — I would be interested in your impressions.


  6. I’m glad you got to see him after all!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Always glad to see when you have posted, especially since a lot has been going on in your life… I, too am returning with excitement to seeing my favorite performer in concert again, singing and dancing and shouting!
    Over weekend I finally watched The Crucible; had been waiting so long to read your reviews and analyses on the blog. Watched it twice, am still so affected by the whole production and what Richard did, his physicality, his emotions so visceral at times had to pause and am still thinking on it today. So, enjoying reading abt your sojourn to see Sir Elton, as well as 7 years ago to the Old Vic and John Proctor. 🤓

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I was wondering how your Elton experience had been. Thanks for sharing! Looks like Elton really made a show of it and how fun that everyone sang along. He’ll be in NL at the end of next week, briefly considered going but as I like him but am not a huge fan and we have too many other expenses right now, I couldn’t really justify getting tickets…

    Wow, that hotel looks beautiful. I just showed my son that Antetokounmpo number plate. He liked it but also thinks it unlikely that would actually be his car. Thank you for inclucing it for us! By the way, he loves the Antetokounmpo biography I bought for him as per your suggestion. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I talked SueBC into going when he’s in her city, but she also felt the tickets were (too) expensive to really justify it. (So, I mean, even if you didn’t have other priorities, the face price on the tickets will make your jaw drop.)

      Whoever’s car it was, they are a real Milwaukee patriot. There was a Cream City Brewery bumper sticker (which also made me think it probably wasn’t Giannis). So glad Mr. Esther jr enjoyed the book!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Yay, finally!
    Your post sounds like this was a lot of fun, thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. So glad you have been able to see him. Your wish came true. 😀

    Here, Celine was again, I think it is the 5th time now, postponed for 18th March.

    Liked by 1 person

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