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In Mankato, it’s almost time for Sir Elton John

Tanner Kent, The Free Press, Mankato, Minn. –

MANKATO — In his six decades of music-making, Elton John has played only one concert in outstate Minnesota.

That was last year in Duluth.

His second will be performed Sunday in Mankato — and southern Minnesota isn’t about to squander its chance to gaze upon one of the biggest stars in the musical firmament.

“Never, never, never in a million years would I miss it,” said Bridget Hamisch, a Mankato woman who said Sir Elton’s music carries special importance for her. “My father, who was not an emotional man, would play these songs for me when I was a little girl.

“Sometimes, I still feel like ‘Your Song’ was really written for me and my dad.”

In actuality, “Your Song” was one of John’s earliest hits — he and longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin wrote it in 1969 when the pair were living in John’s mother’s house and opening for Three Dog Night. The song helped propel the one-time pub pianist into Billboard’s third most successful artist of all time (behind only The Beatles and Madonna).

To his name, John has six Grammys, more than 50 Top 40 hits, nine No. 1 hits and more than 250 million records sold.

That’s in addition to his AIDS foundation, which has raised more than $200 million, and his ongoing advocacy efforts for the LGBT community.

Perhaps it goes without saying that John’s performance is being hailed as the largest in Mankato history.

“This is the biggest concert Mankato’s seen,” said Jeff Lang, Radio Mankato promotions director. “The buzz is just huge.”

In keeping with demand, Radio Mankato’s oldies station — Oldies 100.5 FM — will become ELTON 100.5 for a day. Beginning at 6 a.m. Sunday, the station plans to play all Elton, all day.

“Playing just a few songs isn’t enough,” said Dwayne Megaw, Radio Mankato program director.

Preparing the Verizon Wireless Center for The Spectacled One, however, won’t be easy.

The pool tournament that began Friday doesn’t technically conclude until Sunday. Thankfully, said Verizon Marketing Director Eric Jones, tournament organizers didn’t object to holding the final day of their event in the banquet hall instead of the main arena. Jones said that will allow venue staff to begin moving pool tables and building the stage around 2 a.m. Sunday.

Despite the fact that about 7,000 tickets were sold for the show, Jones said he expects concert logistics will be relatively seamless. He did suggest that attendees get downtown early because the show begins promptly at 8 p.m. and there is no warm-up act.

“Make sure you allow enough time to park and find your seats,” he said.

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