Elton – Saturday night’s NOT alright for fighting


Instead of feeling elated, I felt bruised.  Verbally bruised and abused.  Our Elton John Day On The Green at Mt Duneed Estate, Geelong, had left a bitter sweet taste.

The Leonard Cohen event at the same venue two years ago had been a buzz, so I jumped at the invitation.

No metal cutlery, glass or bottles the strict OH & S rules of entry said. We laughed at the absurdity, but prepared and packed our twilight picnic accordingly.

Ground space was filling fast when we arrived. Remembering our previous brilliant location, I steered the group to a similar area where I figured we could fit our four deckchairs and two flatpack eskies.

Within minutes a shortish 40-something-year-old chap seated nearby strode over and in an abusive voice, pointed and said, ‘You can’t sit there, you’re in his space. This is ours, we queued up for hours’.

My eyes met his friends and they read apathy. His mate continued, ‘You’re rude, you’re in his face and space. Just wait until the concert starts.’

Taken aback and slightly bemused but not wanting to cause a fuss, I gathered our clan closer to reorganise our configuration. ‘Sit two in front and two behind with the eskies between,’ suggested Lyn. Yep, that’ll work I thought.  We’d formed a neat little square and were less intrusive.

An older male voice from behind rang out, ‘We can’t see over yer heads!’

My heart sank. Really? We’d thought there was a generous four to five foot gap between our groups and the concert hadn’t started, so what was he struggling to see?

As if on cue, four middle aged women necking plastic bottles of wine on the other side of us decided to join in the rage. They’d assembled chairs into a semi-circle and in front spread a large tarpaulin for their dance floor.

With schoolgirl banter they chimed: ‘We were here first. How dare you move into our space.’

Hostility seemed to be rising with every sip of alcohol imbibed.

Decidedly uncomfortable we were at a stalemate with two of us wanting to stay and two to move and the longer we stalled, the harder it was going to be to find another spot.

As if sensing our unease, two security guards in high viz vests meandered past. Therese, seeking a resolution, quietly stood up and moved toward them. ‘What’s your policy for seating here?’ she inquired nodding towards our group.

Two of our complainants seeing her move leapt up to join the discussion. The guards looked at each other and one prompted the other: ‘We’re responsible for ensuring as many people as possible fit into this designated area.’

Therese continued to listen and nod politely as our neighbours blindly presented their case and the guards reiterated their directive. When the words sank in they sat down. Therese on cue returned and told us the news.  Unnerved by our experience but feeling vindicated, we turned our focus to our picnic and the support act, Tate Sheridan.

At dusk as the damp and cold set in a roar went up. Elton had arrived! Immediately the audience in front of the stage stood sending a wave-like ripple to the back of the hill as everyone rose to their feet. And that’s where we stayed. Transfixed by Elton on stage, standing almost shoulder to shoulder with our slightly less hostile neighbours, singing to the old favourites and dancing.

When the encores started we gathered our goodies and headed to the car.  On a high from the music, but disconcerted by our earlier experience.

Note to Sir Elton: ‘I don’t know what was different about your concert, but Saturday night’s NOT alright for fighting and we certainly didn’t ‘feel the love’  that night!’

I’m left wondering what’s the protocol for finding space at outdoor concerts? Do you queue up for hours? Do you just nuzzle in as we did? How do you respond when others takeover ‘your’ special patch?