Pop superstar Elton John did not forget his Dundee fans when he was riding the crest of a wave as the world’s biggest solo performer in 1976.
The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who and David Bowie were just some of the artists which performed at the Caird Hall during the 1960s and early 1970s.
By the mid-70s Dundee was described as “rock-starved” with top acts now forsaking the city in favour of performing at bigger venues in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
That wasn’t the case though with Elton who could remember having “so much fun” when he performed in Dundee during his 1972 Honkey Chateau tour.
The 29-year-old was now the highest earner in the history of pop and would bring his Louder Than Concorde (But Not Quite as Pretty) tour to the Caird Hall on May 22 1976 which was in support of his 10th studio album Rock of the Westies.
Elton was box office and tickets for the gig sold out immediately with some people camping out overnight to be first in the queue.
The Weekly News spoke to Elton before the Dundee gig and described him as “Britain’s successor to The Beatles” after selling 75 million records since 1970.
Elton was promoting his Rock of the Westies album
Elton was just as widely known for his extravagant outfits as his music and he said his stage clothes put him in the right mood for a performance.
He said: “Without them, I just wouldn’t feel like Elton John at all.
“I don’t take my outrageous appearance seriously.
“The way I look is only a part of me.
“It is the ‘performer me’.
“I just enjoy it, a freak-out, and hope other people do too.
“I’ll always defend the music I make, but as for the extravaganza that goes with it…well it’s really just a game.
“It’s a good laugh, a send up.
“I know some of the things I wear are completely absurd, but, at least it gets the audience thinking: ‘God, what is he going to come on in next?'”
Elton wore a golden banana around his neck
Elton appeared on stage wearing an oversized suit jacket, tracksuit trousers, trademark glasses and a large, golden banana, which was dangling from his neck.
The opening song was Grow Some Funk of Your Own and six fans succumbed to the heat or hysteria and recovered in a make-shift ambulance room.
Elton’s hair was thin, but his singing voice was very strong.
Set highlights included Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Rocket Man and Bennie and the Jets which would go on to become a staple part of Elton’s tour set lists.
Kiki Dee performed Don’t Go Breaking My Heart with Elton which would be released as a single the following month and become his first song to top the UK charts.
A few seats collapsed under the pressure during the encore when Elton jumped back on his sequined piano and rocked out to Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.
It wasn’t quite the end.
Your Song, which catapulted Elton’s career to stardom, was dedicated to his devoted fans before the two-hour show finished with The Who’s Pinball Wizard.
Ross Niven recalls how the crowd went wild for Kiki Dee
Ross Niven from Monifieth was among the 3,000-strong crowd in Dundee.
“The concert was big and loud in every sense,” he said.
“The Caird Hall was packed and full of expectation.
“The excellent support act was Murray Head and he got the usual friendly Caird Hall applause which always said: ‘Thank you, but we’re here to see Elton!’
“Elton had been making hits for about seven years when this concert took place and he played around 21 songs from those early days of his career.
“Kiki Dee came on as a surprise guest.
“They duetted with the Elton-penned hit Don’t Go Breaking My Heart and the crowd loved this!
“Hit after hit was played and everyone was standing up when they played Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.
“Everyone went home from that concert very happy.
“I have tickets to see Elton on his forthcoming farewell tour and I know we won’t be disappointed.
“It’s amazing to think that 45 years have passed since the last time I saw him in concert!”
The Caird Hall acoustics were no problem for Elton
The Courier review from May 1976 said Elton “was there to enjoy himself”.
“Almost from the first hefty slice of rock and roll, the sweat began to glisten and pour as he made sure the audience would have as much fun as he did.
“The Caird Hall acoustics, which usually defy most rock groups to sound anything but muddy, were no problem for Elton and the reproduction of the music, if you were not too near the front, was crystal clear.”
The Courier described Elton’s backing band as “one of the finest around” and highlighted percussionist Ray Cooper, “who was great visual entertainment as he lurked about his drums, tubular bells and congas like a refugee from a Hammer horror movie”.
The review continued: “Many years of touring have taught Elton how to handle an audience and the concert built to peak after peak, ending with Pinball Wizard, the Who song, which Elton has somehow managed to make his own.
“Although concentrating on material from his later albums and the heavier side of his repertoire, Elton did not entirely neglect the vast wealth of melodic and poignant numbers he has at his fingertips.
“The title track from the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album was just one of the evening’s many high spots.
“Elton’s version of the Lennon and McCartney classic, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, was another.
“The concert had an added bonus in the form of the delectable Kiki Dee who helped out on backing vocals.
“Before closing with Pinball Wizard, the band hammered out the highly aggressive Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.
“Dundee folk know better.
“Saturday night’s for listening to Elton John.”
Elton decided to take a break from the yellow brick road
The UK leg of the tour ended in Cardiff in June before going on to North America and concluded with a record-breaking seven-night run at Madison Square Garden.
As Elton’s tour was winding down, he made it known that he would be taking a break from performing and broke up with his supporting band.
He enjoyed a massive hit with Song For Guy at the end of 1978, which crowned a decade of classics like Your Song, Rocket Man, Crocodile Rock and Daniel.
Elton returned to the stage in 1979 after a two-year break from touring, and four decades on, the singer-songwriter is still one of the biggest stars on the planet.
He returned to Dundee to perform at the Caird Hall in 1982 on the Jump Up! tour where he would party afterwards in the legendary 80s nightclub Club Feet.