Elton John bids farewell to the first of the last concerts in the New York area
Elton John bids his final farewell to the New York area this weekend with his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour.
After beginning in September 2018, the swansong trek — from the man who gave us “Your Song” with his first hit 52 years ago — lifted his piano at MetLife Stadium on Saturday night for the first of his last two local shows.
And from the moment he kicked off the show by striking the unmistakable chords of his 1973 classic “Bennie and the Jets,” the 75-year-old music legend had the crowd buzzing instead of fighting this Saturday night.
But John was still awfully rugged, the singer sporting a shimmering black and white ensemble which, despite the pink and green flowers adorning his tailcoat, was relatively understated by young Elton’s standards. John had an awfully robust voice and vigorous fingers for a man who pulls himself off the road.
That may have helped John get five days off from his last gig on this stadium tour, which continues at MetLife on Sunday night. But the man was on fire on a night of sweltering heat and humidity that would wipe out a much younger man.
Whether he’s stomping the ivories in soulful submission on numbers like “Philadelphia Freedom” and “Guess that’s why they call it the blues,” or prancing across the keys with the utmost grace on “Tiny Dancer “, John was a joy as he delivered crowd favorite after crowd favorite.
“Rocket Man” – which inspired the title of his 2019 biopic – soared skyward over MetLife with iPhones lighting up the night like stars, as John and the band jammed bluesy during an extended outing.
Meanwhile, two legendary women were at the heart and soul of two highlights. John reduced it to the piano alone for a tender rendition of “Candle in the Wind” that once again ignited Marilyn Monroe’s flame.
Before performing “Border Song”, John recalled how Aretha Franklin hijacked the tune and made it her own. Then he told how a sick Franklin did her last performance for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and “completely destroyed the place.” Dedicating “Border Song” to the queen of soul, he seemed to channel her, putting a bit more growl and gospel into her vocals.
Although these will be his final farewell shows in the New York area, John — whose years-long tour was, like many others, postponed due to COVID — still has a long goodbye ahead of him. Following the North American leg of his stadium shows, which kicked off in Philadelphia on July 15, he is heading to Australia and Europe in 2023 for concerts that will run through next July.
Obviously, the Rocket Man comes out with an epic big bang.
“I want to spend the rest of my life with my family,” he told the crowd as he reflected on his farewell before singing “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” at the end. “But I did a hell of a ride.”