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the elton john concert
by Audrey Poff • photo illustration by Brittney Guest

My friends and I were just kids when Elton John released “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” in 1974, but the music from that iconic album has definitely been a part of our lives for the past 40 years. When we found out that Elton John’s current tour was coming within driving distance of Jonesboro in March, three of my longtime friends and I decided to add Elton to our own “Concert Bucket List Tour” and make a road trip to see him.

Of the four of us, Daya Shipman and I were the only two who had never seen Elton in concert. Although Lynn Howerton and Shawna Barber had seen EJ in concert many times before, they were game for another chance to see him and were equally as excited about the road trip. The four of us met while we were pledging Alpha Gamma Delta at Arkansas State in 1986. Although we have remained friends over the years, things like jobs, kids and life in general make it nearly impossible to coordinate lunch, much less a road trip these days.

Although we still aren’t certain why this particular venue was on Elton John’s concert tour, our destination for the first stop on our Concert Bucket List Tour was, oddly enough, Bancorp South Arena in Tupelo, Miss. The concert venue was nothing grand, similar in design and size to the ASU Convocation Center. One major advantage, however, was that the hotel, a few local restaurants and
Bancorp South Arena were all within walking distance of each other. Kudos to the folks in Tupelo who made that happen.

After dinner at Tupelo’s Fairpark Grill, an excellent locally owned restaurant located on Main Street, we headed back to the SUV to pick up a few surprises I had brought along for the concert. Hot pink feathers floated through the air in the parking lot as I distributed four very cheap boas. I then asked each friend
to choose a pair of brightly colored foam sunglasses that I had purchased. For just a few minutes, we turned Daya’s Tahoe into a temporary craft shop as we bedazzled the glasses with stick-on jewels and brightly colored feathers. I suspect the feathers are still swirling around in her car, and I’m pretty sure the Red Wolf on her license plate is still sporting a stick-on jewel on his forehead.

Sir Elton John did not disappoint. The set list for this stop in his Follow the Yellow Brick Road Tour included an amazing 27 songs, and he belted them out hit after hit. The legendary singer, who turned 67 last month, doesn’t move much on stage anymore, and I was a little sad that there were no costume changes during the Tupelo concert. I’m guessing that at this point in his career
Elton saves the costumes for the bigger venues.

We sang, we laughed, we danced and we got to wear cheap, feathered boas and brightly bedazzled foam glasses. What more could you ask for? We got our Elton fix, and the first stop on our Concert Bucket List Tour was a rousing success.