Saturday night, superstar Elton John kicked off his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour at the PPL Center in Allentown, PA, the first show of more than 300 scheduled performances across five continents. Taking the audience on a magical journey through his career, the show featured some of Elton’s most beloved songs from his legendary catalogue including, “Bennie and the Jets,” “Rocket Man,” “Tiny Dancer,” and “Philadelphia Freedom.” Elton’s music has taken him too many places, opened many doors and inspired many passions in his life. The audience experienced a rare glimpse into Elton’s life and the deeply personal meaning behind some of his greatest hits, with mesmerizing, never-before-seen photos and videos shown throughout the show from his incredible 50-year career.
Elton John said, “I feel incredibly privileged and grateful to have had the opportunity to perform around the world for the last 50 years. During that time, I have been able to witness a huge amount of social, political and cultural change. I want the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour to celebrate that.”
The Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour celebrates the culture of possibility; honouring the past, celebrating the present and giving hope for the future. Echoing this sentiment throughout the evening, when Elton played the “Border Song,” he paid tribute to all those who made an impact on our society and his life with a powerful montage of images playing above him. From the late Aretha Franklin to Ryan White, Nelson Mandela and Stephen Hawking, the song ended with an incredibly moving film of Elton and his Grandmother, Ivy Sewell, one of the most influential people in Elton’s life, who dared him to dream bigger and made him believe that anything was possible.
A strong emphasis on visual art that inspired Elton throughout his life plays a major role in the Farewell YBR tour. The video accompanying “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” features wild and colorful animated characters adapted from a never-before-seen animation by graphic artist, Alan Aldridge. The characters that danced above Elton were originally created in 1975 for a Captain Fantastic animated feature film that was never produced. Another vibrant showcase of images by photographer, Martin Parr, many of which are from Elton’s personal photography collection, played behind him during “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues.” While playing one of his most well-know and emotional ballads, “Candle in the Wind,” a short film by photographer David LaChapelle played that painstakingly recreates the fragility of Marilyn Monroe’s last photo session with photographer Bert Stern.
Elton has always believed in and been known for championing young artists. Last year, in partnership with YouTube, Elton launched a groundbreaking global competition called, “The Cut,” where filmmakers were given the chance to conceive and produce the official music videos for 3 classic Elton John songs. The FYBR tour performance of “Tiny Dancer” features the competition winner by filmmaker, Max Weiland.
Elton closed the show with many fan favourites including, “I’m Still Standing,” which took the audience on a roller coaster ride through the many amazing places he has been. When he played “Crocodile Rock,” images of his fans dressed up wearing their favorite Elton-inspired outfits danced on the screens around the arena as he belted out the tune. Finally, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” ended the show while a home video of Elton’s played that chronicled the extraordinary 70-year journey he has been on as a live performer and the greatest male solo recording artist of all time.
Known for his wildly iconic looks on stage, Elton John partnered with Gucci’s Creative Director, Alessandro Michele to create costumes exclusively for the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. Opening the night in an embellished tailcoat, fans were delighted to three wardrobe changes throughout the evening, with looks ranging from colourful “Rock n Roll” custom suits to lavishly decorated robes and finally, to end the evening, a black and red tracksuit that echoes the one seen on the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album cover from 1977.
The incredible band that joined Elton on stage featured many familiar faces including Davey Johnstone, Musical Director, Guitarist and backup vocals, Nigel Olsson on the drums, Ray Cooper on percussion, John Mahon on percussion, Kim Bullard on keyboards and Matt Bissonette on the bass.
Allentown Set List - September 8th
Bennie And The Jets
All The Girls Love Alice
I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues
Take Me To The Pilot
Someone Saved My Life Tonight
Candle In The Wind
Funeral For A Friend / Love Lies Bleeding
Burn Down The Mission
Sad Songs (Say So Much)
Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
The Bitch Is Back
I’m Still Standing
Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road