'He's dynamite': Elton John's promoter and friend shares little-known insights into NZ shows

His Auckland show will be the 34th time Elton John takes the stage in New Zealand, and it will be the last time Kiwi fans get a glimpse of the icon performing on home soil.

Out of the three shows already announced, general public tickets will go on sale for the Rocket Man's appearances in Auckland and Dunedin on Thursday morning.

With 50 years in the business under his belt, promoter Michael 'Chuggi' Chugg is beyond excited to host his friend, Sir Elton, one final time.

He says it's the simply the songs that will spark people's interest in getting along to the shows.

"I'm sure most people are the way I am - he's been the soundtrack of my life basically. He's still one of the most played artists on radio in the world."

Sir Elton John will play three shows in New Zealand in 2020.
Sir Elton John will play three shows in New Zealand in 2020. Photo credit: Supplied.

"The fact we're all growing up and growing old and this is his last tour, it's bringing everybody out of the woodwork. What's been exciting for me, I saw it in America and I am seeing it in the demographics here, there's a lot of young people coming to these concerts which just makes it fantastic."

Ahead of general public tickets going on sale on February 14, Chugg said people missed out on getting to Mission Estate in Napier as the event is in such high demand, selling all tickets in less than an hour.

"I've seen a few complaints about people not being able to get tickets, and all that stuff - but when you've got a 25,000-capacity venue and there's 60,000 people trying to buy tickets, obviously a lot are going to miss out, and that's what happened."

It ain't all over tomorrow

 

If punters aren't successful during Thursday's main release, Chugg explained there may be opportunities ahead of Sir Elton's February arrival.

"Over the year as we lead in, a lot of production tickets will go on sale - tickets held for certain different reasons which might not be used - and they'll be put back on sale.

"There'll be tickets available if you're really looking for them."

Sir Elton and Michael Chugg have been longtime friends with the promoter beyond excited he can host The Rocket Man one more time.
Sir Elton and Michael Chugg have been longtime friends with the promoter beyond excited he can host The Rocket Man one more time. Photo credit: Supplied.

Don't be fooled 

 

As if battling it out with fellow fans isn't enough to contend with, illegitimate tickets are also a very real threat - and notorious ticket resale website Viagogo may inadvertently be contributing to that.

Chugg says they are already doing everything they can to stop fans from forking out well above the average price for a ticket that will not be honoured.

"If you haven't been to a gig for 25 years, you really have to research - and people don't," he says. 

"It's something we're battling with. Eventually if we all keep the pressure on, enough people get burned and get really burned, the Government will actually do something.

"We can't do any more than we do. I just feel sorry for everybody. If you go and buy a $390 ticket for $1000, it ain't going to work."

The Commerce Commission last week began proceedings against Viagogo at Auckland High Court for making a number of false or misleading representations.

'The biggest and best show he's ever done'

 

Chugg revealed Mt Smart will bring to life "a stadium within a stadium", boasting a huge LED screen as a backdrop.

There also two other LED screens exactly the same size either side of the stage, which he says will fill every inch of available space from one side to the other.

"We'll only just fit the stage in there," Chugg explained.

The piano has its own railway line, and trundles across the stage throughout the show.

In America, he was playing for two hours and 50 minutes, and the shows were extending into the third hour because audiences were getting on their feet every second song.

"He's very relaxed, he goes to the venue, has a nap, gets dressed, does the show - it's all very routine, but once he's out on that stage, he's dynamite," Michael Chugg says.
"He's very relaxed, he goes to the venue, has a nap, gets dressed, does the show - it's all very routine, but once he's out on that stage, he's dynamite," Michael Chugg says. Photo credit: Supplied.

The man of the moment behind closed doors 

 

Chugg kept his cards close to his chest when asked what a superstar like Elton John requests on his tour rider, but explained it's simpler times for the 'Tiny Dancer' singer these days.

"He likes the good things in life, but he doesn't drink - he doesn't any of that any more.

"He's very relaxed, he goes to the venue, has a nap, gets dressed, does the show - it's all very routine, but once he's out on that stage, he's dynamite."

He's one of few artists who has been achieve longevity in the music industry, choosing not to sit on his hands when instead he could travel the world, sharing live the songs that supported his rise to the most successful performing male solo artist of all time.

Saying goodbye 

 

Chugg believes it is the joy of creating that pushes Sir Elton to keep going, and the farewell tour is an opportunity to thank fans around the world who have supported his music a final time.

"He just enjoys entertaining, basically - but it's come to a point where touring is not that easy anymore.

"You got security problems all over the world, too many airplanes, too small airports, traffic grids in every city in the world, you add all that up, and at his age, it gets to be a pain in the arse.

"Also, he's got two really beautiful children and I think he wants to spend more time with them as well."

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