The Rocket Man Experience will make its way to Portugal for the first time
The ‘Portuguese Elton John’ is preparing to take the stage at Casino Estoril on Friday, December 29 for his first live performance in Portugal after nearly 300 shows in the UK and USA.
Tom Cridland, who was born and raised in the UK but whose mother is Portuguese, is the frontman of The Rocket Man Experience, described as the “the world’s number one Elton John tribute band”.
The band is promising to perform all of Sir Elton John’s hits, including Bennie and the Jets, Tiny Dancer, Rocket Man, Candle In The Wind, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, I’m Still Standing, Crocodile Rock and Your Song, as well as “several classic tracks from albums such as Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, Grey Seal and All The Girls Love Alice from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, the multi‑platinum double LP released in 1973.”
“I love Portugal,” Tom told the Resident, adding that he spent his childhood travelling three times a year to the country, mainly Estoril and the Algarve.
“I’m really looking forward to this show. After a year touring the USA, coming to do a one-off show in Portugal might not be the best idea from a business perspective, but I really wanted to do it because I love the country so much,” he said. “I promise we’re going to put on a hell of a show.”
Inspired by Sir Elton John’s sobriety, Tom decided to give up alcohol six years ago after struggling with his addiction for years before eventually learning to play drums and later piano.
But his path to leading a tribute band to the iconic artist started long before this.
In fact, at the age of just 33, Tom has already racked up his fair share of achievements.
After graduading from the University of Bristol with a Bachelor of Arts in French and Portuguese in 2013, Tom turned a £6,000 loan from the UK government in 2014 into a hugely successful clothing brand called ‘Tom Cridland Clothing’.
“My friends would tell you that my interest in fashion was questionable,” Tom told us. “I had been an accountant for six weeks but then found myself out of a job and knew I needed to try to do something.”
His new clothing brand started out by selling colourful chinos, but it really got going when Tom contacted Nigel Olsson, Elton John’s drummer, to help promote it.
From there, Tom and Nigel developed a close friendship which saw Tom gaining the privilege to see Nigel perform alongside Sir Elton John countless times.
“Me and my wife would try to stay cool, but we knew it was an unbelievable experience being able to see them and hang out backstage,” he told us.
However, it was only during the Covid-19 pandemic that Tom, who had always loved music, decided to start learning an instrument. He started on drums, having performed live while playing and singing before opting for the piano.
Tom actually had a chance to meet Sir Elton John this year at his annual Oscars Party in Los Angeles and thank him for inspiring him to give up alcohol.
As he pointed out, no matter how much Tom loves Sir Elton’s music, the number one thing about the artist that inspires him is his sobriety.
“In terms of the music, what I really love are the songs. During our show, I do get up from the piano and show off a more flamboyant side, but our show is very music-focused,” Tom told us.
While the show at Casino Estoril is the only one planned for Portugal for now, more may be coming soon.
“I’d definitely love to perform in the Algarve and throughout the rest of Portugal,” he told us.
The show at Casino Estoril’s Salão Preto e Prata will begin at 8pm, with tickets costing between €30 and €40.
By MICHAEL BRUXO