When it comes to comparisons to Elton John, Craig A. Meyer is emphatic: “I am not him; I don’t want to be him,” Meyer said.
But he’s close enough. In fact, Meyer calls himself “Almost Elton John” for his concert show, “Remember When Rock Was Young,” which he will present in a Riverside Live! concert Feb. 12 at Mayo Civic Center.
Audiences will be excused though, if they can’t help but think Meyer is Elton John — at least for a couple of hours on stage.
Meyer bears a strong vocal resemblance to John, and when wearing four-inch platform shoes, spangled jacket, colorful glasses and outlandish hats, he looks like the star, too.
“I focus on the glam years,” of John’s career, Meyer said by phone from his home in Atlanta. “It’s definitely eye candy.”
But if Meyer just parodied John’s look, he wouldn’t be so successful on the tribute concert circuit, where he and his seven-member Rocket Band perform 60 shows a year, including with symphony orchestras.
“There are other tribute artists out there who have focused on the camp and the flamboyance, and great for them, but I feel I’m here to serve the music and the songs,” Meyer said. “What an amazing catalog of songs I get to sing. I’m allowing people to go back to wherever these songs take them.”
Rather than work through John’s music chronologically, Meyer, who has a background in theater, strives for pacing.
But no matter how you program John’s material, it’s difficult to go wrong.
“The show is pretty much No. 1 hit after No. 1 after No. 1 hit,” Meyer said. The exceptions are the first half closing song, “Take Me to the Pilot,” and the second-half opener, “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding.”
“Those are for the real hard-core Elton fans,” Meyer said.
That description would not necessarily have described Meyer before he launched his Elton John show seven years ago. It began when Meyer, who was giving voice lessons in his Atlanta studio, was invited to sing some Elton John songs at a benefit concert.
“People came up to me afterward and said, ‘I could have sworn I was listening to Elton John,'” Meyer recalled. “I thought, ‘Let’s see if there’s something there.'”
So he started developing what became “Remember When Rock Was Young.” The title, every Elton John fan will know, comes from the lyrics of the 1972 hit “Crocodile Rock.”
“What I thought would be a side thing I would do as a lark has turned into an industry,” Meyer said. “I have so much fun. I’m in a dream land.”
If you go
What: “Remember When Rock Was Young,” featuring Craig A. Meyer playing the music of Elton John
When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12
Where: Mayo Civic Center Presentation Hall, 30 Civic Center Drive SE, Rochester