This article appeared in the September 27, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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‘Stand and dance’: An evening to remember with Elton John

Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters
British rocker Elton John is awarded the National Humanities Medal by U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, Sept. 23, 2022.
Linda Feldmann
Washington Bureau Chief

“Elton John encourages all his guests to stand and dance. ... Express yourself!”

Somehow the exhortation – posted on big screens flanking the stage before Saturday’s concert – seemed unnecessary. Concertgoers had come ready for a party, some sporting their Elton John finest – rhinestone glasses, sparkly jackets, feather boas.

But it was the music that made for a transcendent evening. The hits kept coming, as this most enduring of pop superstars enchanted the crowd at Washington’s Nationals Park with his voice, his spirit, and his love for humanity. Calls to support the Elton John AIDS Foundation were sprinkled through the event. That he’s on his farewell tour added a note of poignancy.

The evening was also blessedly free of politics. So too, for the most part, was Mr. John’s performance the night before on the South Lawn of the White House, portions of which I viewed on livestream. When President Joe Biden presented Sir Elton with the National Humanities Medal, the singer seemed genuinely surprised.

“I’m never flabbergasted, but I’m flabbergasted,” a tearful Mr. John told the president.

At another moment, the British pop star commented on the politics of his host’s country: “I just wish America would be more bipartisan on everything.”

The optics of Mr. John’s appearance at the White House went unremarked, but were unmistakable. Former President Donald Trump, an Elton John superfan, had tried unsuccessfully to get him to perform at his inauguration. And the singer made no White House appearances during the Trump presidency. Elton John songs “Tiny Dancer” and “Rocket Man” have figured prominently at Trump rallies.

For President Biden, it was a tiny victory over a potential 2024 rival – that he landed an Elton John concert on the South Lawn.

But for this lifelong fan, who spent hard-earned money on Elton John 45s as an 11-year-old, the concert at Washington’s baseball stadium was the night to remember. And yes, we did stand and dance.

This article appeared in the September 27, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 09/27 edition
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