'Rocket Man' blasts off on farewell tour

World | 12 Sep 2018 4:03 pm

After 90 minutes of nonstop singing and piano playing, Elton John returned to the stage dramatically.

There was the sound of loud thunderstorms, dark blue, smoky lights surrounding the arena, and a grand, candle-lit chandelier on the large screen _ all while music in the vein of Michael Jackson's "Thriller'' played in the background.

The Rocket Man, who kicked off his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour about 60 miles from Philadelphia in the US on Saturday, sang like a confident, electrified pro in the City of Brotherly Love on Tuesday. It was the second show on his 300-date tour set to reach five continents, stretching into 2021. He will retire from the road after the shows.

John's custom Gucci blazer was covered with pink flowers and green stems _ which matched his pink shoes and green glasses with rhinestones _ when he emerged to sing again, as his piano smoothly moved from one end of the stage to the center.

The nearly three-hour concert began with "Bennie and the Jets,'' as John pounded away at the piano and took in a long applause at the song's end. He was backed by an equally talented six-member band at the Wells Fargo Center and said Tuesday's show marked an anniversary: he first played in Philadelphia on Sept. 11, 1970.

"There's been one common denominator throughout [my musical] journey _ you guys out there,'' he said to the fans. "You bought the singles, the albums, the 8-track, the cassette, the CD, the DVD, the merchandise, but most of all, you bought the tickets to the shows.''

"You have no idea how much I love to play live,'' he continued. "Ten years ago, if you said I would be doing a farewell tour, I would have said you put acid in my drink.''

The Oscar, Grammy and Tony winner performed two dozen songs, including classics like ``Your Song,'' "Tiny Dancer,'' "Rocket Man,'' "Saturday Night's Alright (for Fighting),'' "Candle In the Wind'' and "I'm Still Standing.''

He wore a black tailcoat blazer with shiny gold lines and red glasses with rhinestones. The earring in his right ear would put even a fancy wedding ring to shame.

John didn't speak much throughout the night _ quickly jumping from song to song. He did give a shout-out to Bernie Taupin, his writing partner of 50 years who was sitting in the audience. When he sang "Border Song,'' which was covered by Aretha Franklin, John said he wanted to honor those who had a profound impact on his life, including musicians, politicians, athletes and everyday people. The Queen of Soul, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone and Stephen Hawking were among the famous faces that appeared on the screen. -AP

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