Elton John is the latest big name act coming to the Augusta Entertainment Complex.
The popular artist and his band will perform Tuesday at James Brown Arena to a sold-out audience. Other famous performers slated to appear this year at James Brown Arena and Bell Auditorium include Lady Antebellum, The Mass Chaos Tour featuring Godsmack and Staind and Steve Harvey and Pastor Shirley Caesar, who will perform at the Pre-Father’s Day Gospel Explosion.
Augusta area residents are responding well to such performers, said Katie Wells, the marketing director for the entertainment complex. While Augusta has a reputation of being a last-minute market, fans have been turning out for their favorite performers, she said.
There have been 11 sellout shows since June, including Keith Urban, The Scream Tour, Vince Gill and Amy Grant, Jerry Seinfeld, Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots, Riverdance and Elton John, Wells said.
For Lady Antebellum’s upcoming show May 22, tickets sold out in three minutes. A second show, on May 23, was added within two hours, and there are only a few seats remaining, she said.
“I definitely think people are buying tickets. For certain events, people are certainly buying early, and they’re buying quickly. I think as long as people continue to do that and support these events, then we’ll be able to continue bringing in bigger and bigger acts,” Wells said. “We would love to see people buy early. I think that would increase the confidence of some of these promoters bringing in the events.”
From July 1, 2010, through June 2011, 289,739 people attended 108 events at the entertainment complex. Since July 1, 144,709 people have attended 49 events, Wells said.
“I think we feel, like everybody else in Augusta, that getting acts like Jerry Seinfeld and Elton John are a sign of things to come for this area. I think it is putting us on the map,” she said.
Tonya Blackburn, of Grovetown, is a huge Elton John fan and will be at Tuesday’s concert. Now 31, she has been a fan since she was 16. It will be her first time seeing him in concert, she said.
“I’m ecstatic. When they sold out of tickets, I did everything. I got on Craigslist. I was hoping to find some tickets, and I did get lucky and I found some floor tickets. His clothes are awesome, the glasses. He’s just a great entertainer. I’m thankful he’s coming to Augusta,” Blackburn said.
She said she was willing to drive to Atlanta or Charlotte, N.C., to watch him perform, but now she won’t have to.
Nicole Spensley, of North Augusta, said she bought her Elton John tickets online four minutes after they went on sale, despite having a special challenge.
“As soon as I heard that he was coming to town, my husband and I made plans to go, despite being nine months pregnant when he’s going to be here. He’s been my favorite artist since I was like 5 years old. I’ve never been able to see him in my hometown, so it’s really great that I don’t have to travel,” Spensley said.
She is due to have her baby three days after the concert, so she hopes she’ll be able to make it. This would be her fifth time seeing Elton John in concert, having caught previous performances in Charlotte and Columbia.
“I just love his music,” she said. “He puts on an amazing performance. He never disappoints.”
In the future, Global Spectrum, the company hired by the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority to manage James Brown Arena and Bell Auditorium, hopes to continue to land acts that are “the same level or bigger than Elton John,” said Monty Jones Jr., the general manager for the complex.
“We have been fortunate to get Elton and some of the other shows we have play the Augusta Entertainment Complex so far. We hope to just excel each year,” Jones said.
Global Spectrum will soon begin work on a VIP club lounge at James Brown Arena, which “will give added experience to patrons that attend events and become members,” he said.