This past January, Elton John saddened fans of his music by announcing that he was going to embark on his final concert tour ever. On Saturday, September 8, the legendary artist began the first leg of the jaunt at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The tour kickoff show spanned three hours, and 24 classic tunes were performed by the singer and pianist.
“As promised, the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour is the most bombastic, elaborate, high-tech arena show he’s ever attempted,” wrote Andy Greene in his Rolling Stone review of the concert.
“John’s Allentown show was proof that rock ‘n’ roll is losing a masterful live performer, with the singer hitting nary a bad note in his almost three-straight hours of belting in his rich baritone,” said Maeve McDermott in her USA Today review.
The musician opened the show with his 1970s hit “Bennie and the Jets,” followed by a deep cut, “All the Girls Love Alice.”
Rolling Stone really enjoyed the new videos displayed behind John and his band, which were created by artists like famed photographer David LaChapelle and animator Alan Aldridge to “provide new perspective on the tunes.”
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What a start to the #EltonFarewellTour! The beautiful audience, @rocketentertainment crew, my tireless tour team, the visionaries at @gucci… so many talented people made this such a special first show and this is just the beginning! #farewelltour #diary #tourdiary #gucci #allentown #usa ????: @bengibsonphoto @lallo25
The magazine noted that “Rocket Man” was performed to a psychedelic video of a spaceship roaming outer space; a cartoon version of John “literally entering a pinball machine trapped inside a silver ball” was the backdrop for “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”; and Marilyn Monroe’s final photo shoot was recreated for “Candle in the Wind.”
USA Today loved John’s dazzling custom-made Gucci ensembles created for the tour, including a knee-length sequined coat, and all of his matching oversized sunglasses.
Except for 1995’s “Believe,” all of the material John performed live at the Pennsylvania concert venue was from the beginning of his career in the 1960s up until the early 1980s, which means his megahits from The Lion King soundtrack and newer records were completely ignored.
However, the sold-out audience loved hearing ditties like “Border Song” (dedicated to the late Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who memorably covered the track), “Sad Songs (Say So Much),” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” (dedicated to the late rapper Mac Miller), “I’m Still Standing,” and “Crocodile Rock.”
“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you’ve given to me these past 50 years,” 71-year-old John told his fans during the show, according to Rolling Stone.
“I have the most beautiful family and I really need to spend more time with them. I know you understand since a lot of you have children of your own. I just want to be there for them, and that’s why I’m doing this tour. It’s to say thank you, and say goodbye to touring.”
The show ended with a heartbreaking rendition of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”
John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour is slated to run through 2019.