Hamilton, Ohio – The words, memorable. The tunes, iconic. The songs of Elton John play on the soundtrack of generations of pop music fans. Few of Sir Elton’s songs or albums were – or remain - as popular as Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
So much so that the Fitton Center for Creative Arts decided to bring them to the stage.
Three years ago.
“We got the idea before the release of Rocket Man (the 2019 bio-pic version of Elton John’s life),” said Fitton Center Executive Director Ian MacKenzie-Thurley. “We conceived it in 2019 and it was supposed to go up in 2020.
“When we do a tribute show, it’s a tribute to the music more than the performer. It’s about the essence of the music and trying to bring that to life in a new way rather than somebody dressing up and trying to be Elton. You can’t be Elton; only Elton is Elton. But his music is accessible in a lot of ways.”
Between the movie and John announcing his farewell world tour in 2018, suddenly a 70-year-old man who had been around forever was the hottest thing in music. Fitton Center was ready to ride the wave.
Just as suddenly, the global pandemic put the show on ice.
Now with the farewell tour into its fourth year – and no end in sight until 2023 – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: A Tribute to Elton John tackles the twin questions posed in the title song: “When are you going to come down? When are you going to land?”
The answer: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 21 in the Fitton Family Theater.
“Finally,” MacKenzie-Thurley said. “It’s been a long time coming, but definitely worth the wait.
“The music – and the quality of the musicians performing the music - the projections and the whole atmosphere, we’re going to bring some fun to all of this that maybe audiences haven’t had a chance to experience before.”
Danny Manning leads the Just Strange Brothers band – a core of outstanding local musicians with specialized artists and singers added for each new show – and handles the music.
“There’s a reason we keep bringing these guys back,” MacKenzie-Thurley said. “Just Strange Brothers are a big part of what changed the Fitton Center for the better. We talk about Before Bowie and After Bowie when we brought them in for their first show here in 2016. “It was more than a guy and a guitar dressed up like Ziggy Stardust. They brought this incredible energy and musicality to the stage – a 10-piece band with multiple singers - and it was a show unlike any the Fitton Center had seen before. They’ve been great friends to – and great favorites of - our audiences ever since.”
Spoiler alert: Just Strange Brothers will be back on the Fitton Center stage in the fall to open the 2022-23 season’s Showstopper Series with their Talking Heads tribute, Burning Down the House.
First, though, Elton John.
The audience can expect many hits. Now nearly 50 years old, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road dropped in September of 1973. The original “Candle in the Wind,” and “Bennie and the Jets,” - to name just two legendary tracks - appear on the first of the double album’s four sides.
But there will be some deeper cuts, too. In addition to at least one Just Strange Brothers cover of Elton’s cover of a song by the Who.
Curious? There’s only one way to get the entire set list.
Tickets are available online right here or by phone at 513-863-873, ext. 110; cost is $37 ($29 for Fitton Center members).
The Fitton Center for Creative Arts is located at 101 S. Monument Avenue on the Riverfront in downtown Hamilton, Ohio.
Building Community Excellence through the Arts and Culture