Sir Elton John visited Chase Center in San Francisco, California last Friday, Sept. 13, the first of two (non-consecutive) nights at the brand new arena. John was one of the first among many artists to kick off a string of concerts at the freshly completed venue, and it's safe to say it was a grand opening. The world's best-selling singer-songwriter has been on the road since late 2018 as part of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, which will conclude the touring aspect of his 50+ year music career and will span over 300 dates worldwide through 2021.
Kicking off the nearly three-hour extravaganza with “Bennie and the Jets,” John made his way to his iconic Yamaha “million-dollar piano.” The award-winning performer sported a white coat emblazoned with combinations of white jewels and pearls paired with emerald green Gucci specs in true John fashion. He managed to pack in as many hits as possible, with only one short costume break throughout his entire set that still kept your attention. Seriously, you'd almost have to glance away to miss it. It’s pretty remarkable for any entertainer, after being on the road for half a century, to produce a stage presence that feels not only authentically connected but also possesses unparalleled energy well into their golden years. The production value and precise attention to detail truly shone in the stunning stage elements and massive visual montages paired with each song that reflected on John’s legacy. Some of these included “Levon,” “Candle in the Wind,” “Daniel,” and “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time),” which transported the entire arena into a galactic phenomenon.
In addition to John’s incredible artistry, he’s also known for his philanthropic work including the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which he established after his decision to become sober in the early '90s. “Never in my wildest dreams did I know how far we would come in the treatment of HIV/AIDS,” he spoke on the matter towards the final part of his set. “In 1992, it was a death sentence for everybody. Now in 2019, there is no need for anyone to die of this disease. We need to give people hope. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s the extraordinary healing power of love and compassion. If we start getting rid of the stigma that still surrounds this disease, it will end it that much quicker,” he continued before heading into one of the pinnacles of the night—an empowering performance of his 1995 hit “Believe.”
It’s rare to see a show and experience collective energy from the entire audience, but that wasn’t true for those in attendance that special night. No matter where you were sitting or standing, each patron could be witnessed rejoicing and cherishing every second of the entire experience. There was something so refreshing about seeing baby boomers and Gen Xers frolicking out of their seats to bum rush the stage during the latter performances of “I’m Still Standing,” “Crocodile Rock,” and “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” In a calculated move that’s typical of a younger demographic, it was a thrill to observe. If that isn’t any indication as to how powerful John’s influence is at 72 years of age, we don’t know what is.
It was a bittersweet adieu, to say the least. John addressed the audience to express his gratitude for their never-ending support throughout his career, and he meant every word of it. “I’ve been so blessed and fortunate to do this for a living. There’s been one constant throughout this entire journey and that’s you. Let’s face it—without you, I wouldn’t be here. You bought the 45s, the albums, the 8-tracks, the cassettes, the CDs, the DVDs, the merchandise—but most of all, you bought the ticket to the show,” the “Border Song” crooner stated, reciprocated by thunderous applause. “As you may well know, this journey is coming to an end now,” he continued, followed by a collective unison of boos. “10 years ago, I never thought I would have a family of my own and now I do. My family needs me and I need them. So, I’ve come to say goodbye and thank you,” he expressed sincerely, garnering a staggering number of hoots, hollers, and cheers.
John closed out his 25-song setlist with “Your Song” and the respective ode-to-tour “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” which concluded with John departing on a platform that gradually brought him into an opening in the stage’s backdrop. A grandiose farewell to the Bay Area, indeed.
John’s ongoing Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour is currently scheduled through December 2020 in London, England. Tickets can be purchased via John’s official website at eltonjohn.com. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the music legend when he rolls through your town for one final hurrah, because it’s an exhibition not to be missed.