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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Elton John Says Farewell With a Hit-Filled Set at the Q

Concert Review

Posted By on Sun, Nov 4, 2018 at 8:53 AM

click to enlarge SCOTT SANDBERG
  • Scott Sandberg
Near the end of last night’s nearly three-hour set at the Q, Elton John confided that he’s been taken aback by the way his career evolved. “It’s been a remarkable and unexpected journey,” he said as he admitted that when he and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin began working together, they figured they would write songs for other people.

When no one took them up on that offer, John decided to record the tunes himself, and he subsequently put a band together to play them live. That was nearly 50 years ago, and after an incredible run that includes hit albums and induction into the Rock Hall, John has said that his current tour, dubbed Farewell Yellow Brick Road, will be his last.

It will bring him to the Q again in 2019.

You can see a slideshow of photos from last night's concert here.

If this is indeed John’s swan song, he’s certainly going out on a high note. Last night’s expansive 24-song set drew from his extensive catalog and included just about every major hit.

The show began with the familiar piano thump of “Bennie and the Jets.” Wearing a sequined black jacket, silver dress pants and glasses adorned with sparkles, the flamboyant singer-pianist looked as respondent as ever while he belted out the stuttering refrain with abandon and regularly turned to the audience to soak up the applause and adulation.

The equally punchy “All the Girls Love Alice” followed, but John shifted the mood with the somber “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues,” a song that was made all the more somber thanks to a few well-placed organ riffs.

After explaining that the ballad “Border Song,” a track that the late Aretha Franklin covered, was the tune that helped jumpstart his career, John again turned to high-energy hits such as “Tiny Dancer” and “Philadelphia Freedom” to bring the capacity crowd back to its feet. The atmospheric “Indian Sunset,” a song that John said was about the plight of the Native American, failed to catch fire. It featured only John and percussionist Ray Cooper, who gave it his all by emphatically shaking his tambourine and hammering away at his drums.

Both “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to be a Long, Long Time)” and “Take Me to the Pilot” allowed the members of John’s terrific six-piece band to show off their chops, something they also did quite effectively in “Levon,” which featured a stirring mid-song jam. Amidst all the hits, "Levon" really served as the concert’s centerpiece, and John’s booming vocals sounded particularly sharp on the track.

Accompanied by vintage footage of Marilyn Monroe, the song’s inspiration, the touching ballad “Candle in the Wind” concluded the concert’s first half. After a quick wardrobe change, which found John switching into a red, black and white sportcoat, John returned to deliver the proggy “Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding.” That would lead into the power ballad “Burn Down the Mission,” and spirited renditions of “Sad Songs (Say So Much),” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” “The Bitch is Back” and “I’m Still Standing.”

Poppy hits “Crocodile Rock” and “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” would bring the set to a close (though John would return for an encore that included “Your Song” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”).

At the conclusion of “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” John stood at the edge of the stage as confetti fell on the crowd and simply smiled. You could tell from the expression on his face that he still gets a kick out of performing live even if he doesn't play with the same over-the-top energy that he had in the first half of his career.

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