Elton John at Glasto threw us right back to Sky Sports’ best ever advert

If watching Elton John’s headline act at Glastonbury 2023 saw you taken on a Proustian Rush back to the goals of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Thierry Henry and Alan Shearer, then cancel that doctor’s appointment for football addiction. You’re not alone.

With the 2022-23 season finally over, if you can forget the Under-21 European Championship and keyboard warriors defending their club’s benevolent sportswasher on Twitter, millions of football lovers turned to Glastonbury for a spot of escapism. Good luck with that.

The likes of Laura Woods, Jamie Carragher and Sean Dyche were among those taking the musical pilgrimage to Somerset. Flags celebrating Joelinton and Neil Warnock were spotted flying proudly above ramshackle tents.

Aitch, possibly with the permission of Adidas, wore Manchester United’s new home shirt during his set. It was hard to not be reminded of that David Mitchell sketch; it’s impossible to escape the football.

And the inclusion of ‘Are You Ready for Love’ on Elton John’s setlist took us back to the long, hot summer of 2003 and one of Sky Sports’ most enduring adverts.

Tasked with promoting the channel’s coverage of the 2003-04 season, Watford’s honorary life president played his piano on an elevated stage while a troupe of female dancers and scarf-waving supporters jigged away to the disco tune.

Clips of a teenage Wayne Rooney, fresh from his breakthrough season at Everton, and Michael Owen, before everybody hated him, flashed across our screens before a football freestyler juggled a ball on another elevated stage.

There was also a nod to Sky’s capture of Champions League football for the first time with the images of Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo sitting incongruously next to footage of Wolves winning the Division One play-off final.

‘Are you ready?’, asked a sun-glassed Elton, which must have been an affirmative ‘Yes’ for those watching in 2003 judging by the goosebumps currently making our arm look like a colony of speed bumps viewed from an aeroplane.

We’re even treated to a bombastic declaration of football from Sky’s sadly-retired hypeman. Please, just take us back.

Even the choice of ‘Are You Ready For Love’, originally released in 1979, was a bold one for the summer of 2003.

The defining musical trends of those few months were the rise of R&B (think Beyonce’s ‘Crazy in Love’ and the imminent rise of the Black Eyed Peas) and the dancehall revival that seems to happen once every decade (Sean Paul and Divali Riddim were absolutely inescapable in 2003).

But Elton’s Sky gig catapulted ‘Are You Ready For Love’ back into the public consciousness. The song was re-released at the end of August and shot straight in at number one, ending the month-long domination of Blu Cantrell and Sean Paul’s ‘Breathe’.

It also became the 27th best-selling song of 2003. The early-00s may have been an era of falling chart sales and Limewire, but ‘Are You Ready For Love’ demonstrated its timelessness with its enduring popularity. It all stands up very well in 2023.

As millions, either at Glastonbury or in their own living rooms, enjoyed Elton’s final UK tour appearance, the football season seemed a million miles away.

But you’re absolutely forgiven if a repurposed disco tune took you back with the effectiveness of an episode of Premier League Years.

By Michael Lee

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