Of the past five decades of music, few artists have changed the industry the way Sir Elton John has. His legendary performances, wild stage costumes, and numerous hits are just a few of his iconic characteristics. Elton embarked on his massive three year ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’ Tour on Sept. 8 of 2018. This bittersweet tour includes more than 300 stops across North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East and Australia. In Elton’s career, spanning over fifty years he has done it all, from having over 300 million album sales worldwide to winning multiple Grammys as well as being a Kennedy Center Honoree, and being inducted into both the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of his debut album Empty Sky.
Before Elton comes onstage, the music played in each venue was hand picked by Elton himself and features artists that have influenced and inspired him over the years. Elton played the second of his four-night run at Staples Center in Los Angeles, on Wednesday night Jan. 23. The opening song on this tour has been “Bennie and the Jets,” Elton’s number one hit off Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Before this icon took the stage, an intro video including various songs from his catalog played. For this tour, Elton has a very unique stage set up where the band has two levels and is built into a giant screen. If you’re close enough to the stage be sure to pay close attention to details in the borders of the Yellow Brick Road around the screen as it highlights many memorable parts of Elton’s career. Elton played hit after hit with songs like “Tiny Dancer,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” an extended version of “Levon” and “Crocodile Rock.”
Elton is known for his eccentric stage outfits but in recent years has been seen wearing a suit with a colorful design and for this, it was very patriotic. Himself as well as band wore Gucci from head to toe. The fourth song in was “Border Song” which had been covered by none other than Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin many years ago. Elton told the story of how he and Bernie Taupin were young songwriters at the time and they would have been happy being covered by anyone “even the Chipmunks.” Elton also mentioned how he and Aretha shared the same birthday and that every time he saw her he would thank her for covering his song. The show overall was very special and included a few emotional moments and surprises. While performing "Candle In the Wind” one of his more melancholy songs, video footage of Marilyn Monroe played throughout the song and Elton’s piano slid across the stage. On some of the songs, I caught myself watching more of the video screen then Sir Elton performing. The graphics throughout the show are very catchy and emotional.
Elton and his band left the stage for a wardrobe change before the next song which was “Funeral for a Friend/ Love Lies Bleeding.” Before the band returned to the stage there were sound effects and a lot of fog similar to the cemetery scene in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. During the song, Elton and his piano slid back across the stage. Starting with “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me,” fans in the first few rows and guests were allowed to come right up to the front of the stage. Not only was the music great but also the montages on the screen like on “I’m Still Standing,” it shows various times Elton has been a part of pop culture from The Simpsons to The Lion King to Tommy as well as iconic performances including live aid, The Grammys with Eminem, and the former Tower Records West Hollywood parking lot with Lady Gaga.
After "Crocodile Rock," Elton and his band left the stage for an encore. Elton returned in a blue kimono playing “Your Song,” solo before the band came up and joined in. This incredible show ended with “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” and for the final time of the night Elton and his piano made their way around the stage. Without giving away any surprises before to stay until the very end to see how Elton departs the stage through his Yellow Brick Road. After the show ended “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” played as fans were leaving.
For this final tour Elton’s band consists of his drummer Nigel Olsson who has been with him nearly 50 years on and off, guitarist Dave Johnstone who joined in 1971 and made Elton’s band a 4-piece, percussionist Ray Cooper a member on and off also since 1971 whose played with many music greats, percussionist John Mahon who has been a member of Elton’s band almost 22 years, keyboardist Kim Bullard a member since 2009, and bassist Matt Bissonette who joined in 2012 after the tragic death of Bob Birch Elton’s bassist of 20 years.