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Sunday , September 22 2019

John delivers message of tolerance

British singer Elton John performs on the stage of the ‘Stade de la Saussaz’ during his final ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’ tour at the 53rd Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF), in Montreux, Switzerland on June 29, 2019. The MJF runs from June 28 to July 13 and features 450 concerts. (AP)

Big music fest abruptly ended over security

MONTREUX, Switzerland, June 30, (Agencies): Elton John made his first and last appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival on Saturday, delivering a slick and energetic performance that ended with a message of tolerance and love.

The British singer’s 2-1/2-hour show, part of his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour begun last year, opened with “Bennie and the Jets”, followed by early 1970s hits including “Tiny Dancer”, “Rocket Man” and “Your Song”.

“I’ve wanted to play this festival for years and years. I’ve watched it on DVD and television. I never thought I would be playing it, but it is an honour to be here,” the 72-year-old told a sell-out outdoor crowd of 15,000 who braved a heat wave.

The five-time Grammy winner, seated at the piano centre stage, wore large black frame glasses with his name spelled out in rhinestones and a black jacket with sparkling trim.

“Sorry”, “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”, “Candle in the Wind”, “Daniel” and “Saturday Night’s Alright” were other signature songs, accompanied by his band including longtime drummer Nigel Olsson and guitarist John Jorgenson.

John performed at La Saussaz Stadium overlooking Lake Geneva, rather than the famed Stravinski Auditorium, an intimate venue renowned for its acoustics, where he was initially booked for two nights when the tour was first announced.

“This was imposed on us,” a Montreux insider told Reuters about the first-ever open-air concert of the Swiss festival. Festival goer Sebastien Cordey, 37, said afterwards: “I’m not a big fan of Elton John. But he had great energy on stage and his voice is still incredibly strong.”

Sting on Friday opened the 53rd edition of the festival which runs through July 13. Its eclectic line-up includes Janet Jackson, Chick Corea and Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke.

John said on Friday he was deeply upset by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comment that liberal values were “obsolete” and had been rejected by the majority of people in Western nations.

John, who is gay, accused Putin of hypocrisy for saying in the same interview that he wanted LGBT people to be happy. Russia has reportedly censored gay scenes in the movie “Rocketman” based on his life.

Appreciate

“I am sick to death of hatred, of racism and homophobia,” John told fans. “I am sick to death of people who claim to be religious and close to God and are far from God.”

“We should appreciate each other, we need to embrace everyone even if we do not agree with each other,” he said. Fans paid from 185 to 450 Swiss francs ($189.55 to $461.00) for the show. Former co-director Quincy Jones calls the festival the “Rolls-Royce of festivals”.

John said he met Jones before the show.

“I love him very much, the man and the musician. … He is still as vibrant as a teenager”, John said, dedicating the song “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” to the legendary American producer.

A music festival in Belgium featuring major stars like rapper Cardi B came to a chaotic end before it had even started.

Security concerns were ostensibly the reason behind the cancellation of the VestiVille festival in Belgium on Friday, though local officials have launched a fraud investigation.

That’s added a further layer of confusion and rekindled memories of the Fyre Festival, the failed music bash in the Bahamas in 2017 that was brought to the world’s attention in a smash Netflix documentary earlier this year.

Videos posted on Twitter show an elaborate stage apparently ready for the three-day music fest on a campsite in Lommel, in Belgium’s Flemish region. But thousands of festival-goers from around Europe and elsewhere got a shock as police, some with dogs, moved in to try to keep them out of the grounds.

Belgium’s RTBF network said Saturday that the Limbourg prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation on suspicion of fraud over payments and quoted spokesman Jeroen Swijssen as saying three of the festival organizers were questioned Friday night. The three were not identified. An investigating judge was said to be questioning them further over the weekend on an array of suspicions including fraud, laundering and breach of trust.

VestiVille wrote on Facebook and Twitter on Friday that Lommel Mayor Bob Nijs stopped the festival on security grounds. The posts said that after consulting security services and security for star rapper A$AP Rocky, “it was decided that the safety of the artist and the public could not be guaranteed.”

However, security issues were not currently included in the investigation.

A$AP Rocky said on Twitter that the promoters had told him that “security and infrastructure concerns” would have been “handled but unfortunately for you and me they didn’t.”

There was no immediate response to an email query to VestiVille about alleged deficiencies and other potential problems behind the cancellation, which recalled the Fyre Festival debacle. That was meant to be a music blowout in a luxurious setting on a Bahamian island. It never opened due to a bevy of problems from security to food.

Rapper Ja Rule, a co-founder of Fyre Festival, was to perform Saturday at VestiVille. He has denied any involvement in any fraud and has never been charged with any wrongdoing related to the failed enterprise.

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