I’ve spent the last few minutes trying to think of a single word to describe the “Rocket Man” performance hosted by the Hot Springs Village Community Foundation last week and I’m coming up blank. Terrific, sensational, outstanding, exceptional just don’t cut it.
Scotsman Rus Anderson’s “Rocket Man” performance brought the audience back to the 1970s and 80s as he played many of Sir Elton John’s hits and wore several wild, flamboyant costumes and sunglasses, some actually at one time owned by Elton John. Anderson is so good at this act he was chosen by Elton John as his official body double for the highly publicized “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” world tour.
Immediately obvious is his remarkable talent on the piano, but it goes far beyond that.  His antics, his contagious smile, his energy grabbed the audience as he knocked out hit after hit, like “Honky Cat,” “Daniel,” and “Levon.” Anderson said it’s a song about a boy who wants to get away, but can’t, then he played the hit tune to perfection in my opinion. His piano playing was great and the guitar solo that followed by Mark Alan was terrific. Other band members were James Granell on bass and Mike Pinder on drums. Other hits followed like “Tiny Dancer,” “Your Song,” and “Philadelphia Freedom.”
Anderson told of the time when he got a call from John’s attorney. Thinking he might be in trouble, Anderson answered the phone and was told that John wanted him for his double. “That hit me like a ton of bricks,” Anderson said.
After intermission, the amazing performance continued. Anderson’s stage presence and showmanship excelled with his engaging smile that gripped the audience. Now on stage with a different costume, a flamboyant creation that included bright orange pants and super tall boots, he began with “Rocket Man,” then “I’m Still Standing,” followed by the heartfelt “Candle In the Wind,” as his wife Somali Rose came out in a Marilyn Monroe dress, hair and make-up looking very much like Monroe.
Later, wearing “space balls,” like John did in year’s past, the “Rocket Man” performance encore included even more hits such as “Crocodile Rock” and “Bennie & the Jets.” By now several ladies and a few gentlemen were up front dancing to the music, consumed with the magic filling the auditorium’s air. This 14th annual benefit concert by the Foundation has to be one of the very best they’ve ever had. Backstage I had the opportunity to talk with Rus and Somali. They said it was their first time in Arkansas and that they hoped to be back. I hope so, too.
Sponsors for this special evening were ReMax of Hot Springs Village and Ike Eisenhauer Insurance.
For more information on the HSV Community Foundation, an affiliate of Arkansas Community Foundation, go to their website at www.arcf.org/hotspringsvillage or email them at hotspringsvillage@arcf.org or call 501-984-1545.