PHILADELPHIA – Goodbyes can be tough. But Elton John continues to launch his extraordinary career with grace and enthusiasm while ensuring fans savor a series of highlights from his massive catalog.
At Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on Friday, John and his legendary cheerleader band appeared before sunset and after more than two hours and 23 songs after that, it was the first date for the final US stage of their Farewell Yellow Brick Road fringe tour in history.
The show also saw the launch of the stadium segment of the tour, which will conclude in Los Angeles in November before returning to Europe for the final round. It seems that from another age, John began his long and winding farewell; In fact, the world looked a lot different in 2018 when he debuted in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
But it still entices Baby Boomer fans and millennials alike, a refreshing period of ages evident among the over 40,000-sold crowd.
During the encore, John noticed – with some modest disbelief – that he had recently been playing “Cold Cold Heart”, a medley of Dua Lipa (which is featured in the video) along with his first-ever chart from 1971, “Your Song” that is timeless. truly.
It’s an equally remarkable piece of work and is unlikely to be repeated.
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Throughout the night, John, in a jeweled white tux jacket, black pants and lavender-rimmed glasses, looked refreshed and happy behind a black Yamaha grand piano. The beating parade began with the familiar notes of “Bennie and the Jets” followed by “Philadelphia Freedom,” with guitarist Davey Johnstone introducing the song’s melody.
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John, 75, was cheerful between songs, emerging from his piano seat to point and smile at the crowd while speaking thanks and leading a concert that felt lively, but not memorized.
While some songs (“I’m Still Standing” and “Tiny Dancer”) had remarkably low keys to suit John’s current range, he mostly sounded strong, adding vocal trappings to the end of the easy swing “I guess that’s why she’s called the blues” and “inject” Someone saved my life tonight.” With emphatic feelings.
The highlights along this emotional street journey were numerous. The blur effects on the accompanying video of the always ethereal “Rocket Man” have added a gauze layer while the dreamy chorus splits into a long piano coda. One of the underrated beauties in John’s lair of creativity with lyricist Bernie Tobin, “Levon,” escalated to an Angel hurling before returning to the tune. The epic “A Friend’s Funeral,” a sonic eruption that melts into “Love Bleeds,” remains a master class in music.
Although John’s teammates never earned the nickname àla the E Street Band, these exceptional players were an integral part of his live performances. Many, like elegant drummer Nigel Olson (wearing his trademark gloves, headphones, and a pink pocket square in his suit), treasure that is percussionist Ray Cooper and discerning Johnston have shared the stage with the maestro since the earliest gigs.
Percussionist John Mahone, keyboardist Kim Pollard and guitarist Matt Bisonette also added a musical style that prompted John to comment on how much he enjoyed playing with this group.
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While their nervousness was to be expected given the volume of shows they put on, the band also headed for a couple of surprise sets on the set roster.
The racy “All the Girls Love Alice,” from the 1973 album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” debuted this year (John revealed the album’s track during several pre-pandemic farewell dates). But what’s even more anticipated is the tour debut of “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters,” John’s soulful 1972 poem for New York City that he hasn’t performed live since his debut in Las Vegas in 2018. He was, as always, a charmer.
As the concert drew to a close – with fans realizing that their time on John’s ark had come to an end – the musician gave his heartfelt thanks and told the audience to “love each other” while wishing them “health, happiness and success”.
Then, as he has done throughout the tour, John unwrapped the cover of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” his subtle rumination of a life in transition and the perfect summary of a career that will be forever celebrated.
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