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Sir Elton makes memories for a packed downtown house

Published: Sun, May 2, 2010 @ 12:01 a.m.




Sir Elton John, the man who made so many memories during his 40-year career with his chart-topping music and showmanship, made unforgettable memories Saturday night for 7,000 area fans packed into the Covelli Centre downtown.

With hits like “Rocket Man,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “Levon,” and “Philadelphia Freedom,” the English performer lit up the stage with his five-member band for his Greatest Hits Live show.

John is one of the top-selling solo artists of all time, behind only Elvis and the Beatles, according to Billboard.

He drew fans from as far away as Atlanta at costs ranging from $39 to nearly $200 for a ticket purchased on eBay or from a broker.

In the hours leading up to the 8 p.m. show, downtown was brimming with couples, sisters and friends, many of them accompanied by a daughter or son who learned to appreciate John’s music second-hand.

The majority of concert-goers were in their 40s or 50s — old enough to remember his energetic early days.

Sixteen members of the Fackelman and Luther families of Girard prepared for the show at Buffalo Wild Wings on Wick Avenue several hours beforehand, explaining that John’s music has been passed from generation to generation.

“I’ve wanted to see Elton John for a long time — since I was young,” Michelle Luther said.

“My 16-year-old daughter Emily loves him. I think she was born in the wrong era,” she said. “She learned the words to “Tiny Dancer” when she was 2 years old — word for word.”

“I just love his songs,” Emily agreed. “I’ve been listening to them since I was born.”

Michelle Luther’s brother-in-law, Steve Fackelman, said he and his wife, Carol, were persistent the morning the tickets went on sale and worked their computers, succeeding in getting six tickets each. All the tickets were sold in 30 minutes, but after seven minutes, only single tickets were left, Fackelman said.

Ed and Nancy Baran of Boardman didn’t score any of the $39, $89 or $139 Ticketmaster tickets online, but got two tickets behind the stage from a broker for $111 apiece.

“We are so excited. It’s probably my fourth or fifth time,” Nancy said of John concerts, dating back to her high school days in the 1970s.

“He was just different — Liberace outfits — but his music was incredible. Everybody was listening to him,” Ed Baran said.

Dortheann Metzinger of suburban Atlanta came back to her hometown of Canfield this weekend with her boyfriend, Alex Hutchins, to stay with her parents, Robert and Ann Metzinger, and attend the concert.

Her friend from St. Charles School in Boardman, Cris McFerren, called her on the phone when she learned that Elton John was coming to Youngstown.

“I called her up and said ‘You won’t believe it,’” McFerren said. “Dorothe introduced me to Elton when we were kids” around 1976, McFerren said.

“I’ve been a fan since about age 10,” said Dortheann, a 1982 Youngstown Cardinal Mooney graduate. “It’s one of my lifetime list of people to see.”

One of her fondest memories of those days is a particular pair of Captain Fantastic socks she wore with her Catholic school uniform.

The socks showed John as Captain Fantastic from the 1975 album Captain Fantastic and the Dirt Brown Cowboy. They depicted John wearing big glasses and hat, and the socks showed a colorful keyboard.

“It was our only form of expression,” Metzinger said of being allowed to wear any kind of socks they wanted.

This is the first time Metzinger has attended an Elton John concert, even though John has a home in Atlanta and has played concerts there.

“I know I’d never get to see him in Atlanta,” she said, explaining that with 4 million people in the Atlanta area, tickets are hard to get.

John Klimko of Poland said the concert helps put Youngstown on the map.

“To have someone that well-known in our town. This is good for the town,” he said. “I think we need more of this kind of thing. People will come from Akron and Cleveland. People will come.”

Sandy Durbin of Willowick, a Cleveland suburb, said she has seen Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac and Pat Benatar in recent years.

“I think it’s important to see the music icons while we still have them, and we’re going to see them in a 7,000-seat arena. It’ll be intimate. It’ll be good,” she said.

“I saw the tickets come up on Ticketmaster for Youngstown, and I was thinking THE Elton John?”

Sheryl Carabbia of Struthers, who was with about five coworkers and friends, said, “There’s a few things you just want to go out and do, and this is one of them.”

Paul Handza, 22, of Pittsburgh, came to the show with several relatives, including his mother, Lynn Handza of Ridgway, Pa., which is near the Allegheny National Forest.

“I’m surprised. It’s really pretty here,” Lynn Handza said as she sat at a table on the sidewalk in front of Rosetta Stone on Federal Street before the concert.

“I’m very interested in architecture, and there is some really nice architecture here,” Paul Handza said.


1CandyfromCanfield(172 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Elton John performed a killer show at the Covelli Center! Congrats to all who had a hand in bringing Sir Elton John to Youngstown, Ohio, and thank you for an incredible evening I will never forget!!!!

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2Askmeificare(810 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Whata wonderful evening ! My wife and I had no problem getting parking at 3:50pm at The Covelli Center for $20. Cheryl at The Covelli Center told me parking would be $10 but so what.

We had dinner at Overtures' Restaurant and it was a must do again. Brandon was our server and the food and the service at Overtures' were all incredible.

The show was everything anyone would expect from a world class professional performer. A must do again and again event ! And the money will do well that was pumped into our local economy.

Thank you Sir Elton and may the greatest city in the midwest grace your tour book again !

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3valleycat(5 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

It was an awesome show! 2.5 hours and he never left the stage! We were 3rd row and I couldnt believe when he started signing autos for the crowd! Fantastic show overall. One of the best parts...it took 10 minutes to get home!!

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4timOthy(802 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Thanks (CAPTAIN FANTASTIC) ! Tiny Dancer is one of my favorites. "Jesus sits on the porch and watches the ballons fly high, high, high." It's a same we all get old,but Elton your music brings the youth back and so many excellent memories. Thanks!

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5Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

I couldn't get tickets but heard from a lot of friends what a wonderful time everyone had, from fun in downtown to the concert. So nice to hear. Keep the memories and hopefully more to come in the future.

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6peacelover(826 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

I couldn't get tickets either ... would have loved to attend since I have been a fan of Sir Elton's forever....but all I can say is how refreshing to read such a positive and upbeat article about Youngstown for a change. I agree with Lifes2Short that I hope we see more of this type of thing in the future!!! Maybe this event will get the ball rolling.

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7Askmeificare(810 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago


Elton John is a MUST SEE ! !

My wife and I planned on a wonderful evening and really treated ourselves to the finest of everything in anticipation of the Elton John concert at The Covelli Center in downtown Youngstown Ohio.

Indeed the Elton John concert began promptly at 8:00 pm and lasted 2 hours and forty five minutes. Every minute of it was electric and world class. The quality of sound and the artistry were absolutely a must have experience. What an incredible version of Rocket Man !

Sir Elton John had walked around after each song or two played so everyone could see him and he could see everyone. A great and must see show at any price.

Lifes2short and Peacelover: Thank you for being and posting kind and positive sentiments toward others whom were able and most fortunate to see this show. Your kind words are most welcome and uplifting of our local genre.

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8hipnana(6 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

I didn't attempt to buy tickets for the concert as I knew it would sell out quickly. Just wanted to say that Eric Ryan is doing a fantastic job at the Covelli Center !!!! Youngstown needs to thank him. I know his Mother is very proud of him. ( I know Marybeth and haven't seen Eric since he was a child ) Keep up the good work Eric.

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