Sir Elton John has returned to the land of Oz to say a final goodbye to the yellow brick road and his Australian fans. Words: Tammy Whitelaw.
Already partway through his gargantuan three-year long worldwide farewell tour, Elton is set to spend the next three months Down Under playing stadiums, wineries and arenas across the country.
Tonight marks the first Brisbane show of the tour, and the Queensland crowd have turned up in style to celebrate the illustrious career of the Rocket Man. Sequined outfits and novelty light-up glasses purchased from the merch stand sparkle brightly, illuminating the packed Entertainment Centre.
As a parting gift to his fans, Elton performed a roaring, at times emotional, three hour-long set of hits from his iconic songbook. The thumping piano intro of Bennie and the Jets brings the room to life as Elton appears at his piano dressed in a custom Gucci, quintessentially Elton, suit. The sequin trimmed cuffs of the sleeves glisten up on the big screen as his fingers dance across the keys during All the Girls Love Alice.
It can’t be easy to trim a career that spans five decades and 30 studio albums down to a 25-track setlist, but Elton is doing this tour for his fans and fills it with pure gold. Each song is a glistening gold-plated brick of music history laid perfectly by Elton and his band. I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues and Tiny Dancer are the first ballads of the night, uniting the emotional crowd in song. Indian Sunset and Rocket Man follow, both transformed into epic, cinematic masterpieces.
“Each song is a glistening gold-plated brick of music history laid perfectly by Elton and his band.”
Despite being down a member for tonight’s show (percussionist John Mahon had to undergo a medical procedure in Melbourne – all is well, Elton assures us), Elton’s band has as much influence over the crowd as the man himself. Percussionist Ray Cooper’s energy is undeniably infectious, his animated tambourine playing, and encouragement is enough to bring the crowd to their feet during the extended jam at the end of Levon.
Emotions run high during Candle in the Wind and Daniel, as many in the crowd wipe away tears. Elton shares the struggles he and Bernie Taupin faced early in his career as many doors were slammed in their faces. Someone Saved My Life Tonight and I Want Love see Elton open up, exposing his vulnerable side.
It isn’t long until the glitz and glam takes over again. Elton brings the sass for The Bitch Is Back, I’m Still Standing, Crocodile Rock and Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting. Your Song and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road are a bittersweet end to an incredible show.
Staring up at the giant image of Elton, the piano keys reflecting up onto the lenses of his diamond encrusted glasses, it’s hard to imagine he ever had a door slammed in his face. Now, sadly, the time has come for Elton to close the door on touring. “This is the 50th year touring as me. I’ve had an absolute blast, but this will be my last tour. I need to be with my family,” he shares. The door is not being closed completely on his career though, as Elton will always have a family of fans thankful for the music and memories he’s shared with us over the years.
Check out our gallery from the night here.