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For the first few years of the Tribeca Film Festival’s existence, back when it was actually still in Tribeca, there was a grand rock concert in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan. The tickets were free, but you had to get them in advance, but for those who could actually get in, it was a real treat, better even than the movies! Sadly, sometime around ’04 or ’06, they stopped having them.
This was also about the time that the fest left downtown and moved to other parts of Manhattan. I’ve been pining for the concerts ever since. Well, this year I don’t have to. Elton John has come to the rescue!
This year, the high mucky-mucks have decided that having the opening night gala being a “stars only” event was a really bad idea (something the rest of us have known since back when Pataki was governor), and came up with the idea of a free, under-the-stars opening night screening at the North Cove between the World Financial Center and the River back where it all started. This is an improvement to be sure.
The film shown was called The Union and was a documentary by Cameron Crowe about the making of the eponymous album by the abovementioned Elton John and Leon Russell, who was one of the great rock keyboardists back in the day. He now looks like Santa Claus in ZZ Top drag. The film itself isn’t bad. Crowe uses a bunch of very old clips from here and there to pad the film. The music isn’t bad, but the film is, in fact boring as heck and not a single song is played from beginning to end.
By focusing on the fact that the old geezers aren’t dead yet and not the music as such, this is a film only the hardened fan would like, much less tolerate. To make matters worse, the temperature fell almost 20 degrees and by the end I was really cold. When it was over I got up and ran toward the heated building behind me, when I realized that there was a possibility that Elton John, who introduced the film, would be doing a few tunes afterward.
That was indeed the case and the old queen was in fine form. He did versions of his top five hits and a couple from the new album, and was fantastic. He also bitched about the temperature falling (the forecast said it would be in the '70s), which made me smile because it proved I wasn’t imagining it.
This was the only way to properly open the festival, and I hope they do it again next time.
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