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Elton delights with "Farewell Yellow Brick Road" performance

A look at one Elton John's performances on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, as the rock legend prepares to come to the Tri-State area to perform over a half-dozen shows.
The Farewell stage setup. Photo by Rush Evans.

The Farewell stage setup. Photo by Rush Evans.

CONCERT REVIEW: ELTON JOHN, HOUSTON, TEXAS, JANUARY 21, 2022

By Rush Evans

“You all bought tickets for this show 747 days ago,” said Elton John to his Houston, Texas audience on January 21, 2022, a resumed stop on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. A few days later, he would have to again postpone his Dallas dates after testing positive for Covid, but this two-night-stand did happen, and it was worth the 747 day wait.

The single lonesome piano chord that kicks off “Bennie and the Jets” is what got the evening underway, and the momentary pause that followed it was the last quiet moment for the nearly two-and-a-half-hour performance that followed. The cavalcade of hits that followed was played with passion by Elton and his band, and for every hit that was not played, an excellent deep cut showed up in its place: “Border Song,” “Have Mercy on the Criminal,” “Take Me to the Pilot,” and “Burn Down the Mission” all sounded as fresh as they did half a century ago when they first appeared on albums by the unlikely bespectacled rock star behind them.

As unlikely as his stardom had initially seemed in the '70s, Elton John has become the quintessential rock star, flamboyant, enigmatic, and enormously talented. The three-year farewell tour has resumed after Covid delays, and the man responsible for the soundtrack of many of our lives, at 74, has poured his heart and soul into an incomparable show.

If you’ve joined Elton on his long musical journey (which will still continue in the studio), you know the stellar rock and roll guitar work of Davey Johnstone, the powerful drumming of Nigel Olssen, and the distinctly percussive flourishes of Ray Cooper. All three were among the excellent band members on stage. Elton’s sweet introduction of each player even acknowledged the late Dee Murray, the bass player who had joined him and the others in the formative years of the Elton John sound. And by the way, Elton’s own vocals and piano work were still spot on fifty years on.

Elton has always been a great live performer, but this particular tour is filled with reflection and unprecedented production value, with video and lighting effects throughout. Mega-hit “I’m Still Standing” serves as the soundtrack to a video montage of Elton’s wild public ride through music, with clips and photos of everything from his animated Simpsons and South Park appearances to his real life (but just as animated) stages videos, and television appearances.

But the most powerful video comes after the final song of the night, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” as Elton is lifted on a platform and pulled into a hole in the screen just before it shows an animated Elton walking away up the yellow brick road. “My gift is my song,” is played on the PA, just before the last musical words of the night. “This one’s for you.”

It was the perfect way to wrap up an evening filled with love and music and a classy way to bid farewell to the yellow brick road he’s been on all his life. He now deserves time to focus on his family, but I feel certain he’ll also spend the rest of his life writing, crafting, and recording music in the studio. He is, after all, still standing.

  

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