The last couple of weeks there has been an abundant of riches in Adelaide with calibre of touring acts to hit town. This time it was Adelaide’s turn to farewell the legend Elton John for the first of two shows in the heart of Botanic Park. It felt like an eternity ago since the tour had been announced but the wait was more than worth it. It had everything from all the hits, the stories beyond his iconic music which has stood the test of time, the emotion, singing and dancing. Whether you’re an Elton John fanatic, music lover or casual observer it ticked all of the boxes going down as one of the best in Adelaide.
As far as weather goes Adelaide couldn’t ask for any better and atmosphere leading up to 8pm start definitely had that air of anticipation. The production was on a grand scale with all trimmings one would expect of a show this size. The crowd revved right up as the band and Elton John started with the opening notes of Bennie and the Jets. Every song was a celebration and Elton would rise from his piano stool to the mass appreciation and adulation from his fans relishing in every second of it. All The Girls Love Alice which followed with Elton saying how “happy we are to be here on this beautiful night in this beautiful city.” He also added, “Thank you for buying a ticket. We hope you like what you see but more importantly we hope you like what you hear”.
There’s no doubt that you would hard pressed to find someone who didn’t like what they heard. The strength of Elton John’s back catalogue speaks for itself and to think about some of the hits that didn’t make the set list is mind blowing. I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues was brilliant. Elton’s suited up band were top shelf and sounded brilliant. Elton spoke fondly of his second album (Elton John), acknowledging “yes, I’m old,” but also how proud he was of the fact someone else was wanting to record one of his songs from it for themselves saying it could have been anyone such The Wiggles but couldn’t believe it was soul Queen Aretha Franklin covering it on her Young, Gifted and Black album in 1972. Border Song was an incredibly emotive and powerful moment in the set.
The crowd went nuts for Tiny Dancer and Elton John took a moment to reflect on the enduring song writing partnership with Bernie Taupin which has spanned some fifty years. Elton described it as an “amazing partnership” and basically said he didn’t know how it works but it just does. Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time) was simply amazing and one of those moments Adelaide didn’t want to end. Epic! It sounded fantastic and the projections lifted this one in to the stratosphere. Take Me To The Pilot, Sorry Seems To be The Hardest Word and Elton’s favourite Someone Saved My Life Tonight from Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy were stellar.
Levon turned in to a big jam session below slowing it down on Candle In The Wind. Funeral for a Friend/ Love Lies Bleeding wasa super cool moment with Elton’s piano moving across the stage giving Adelaide fans a closer look at their icon from all vantage points. The sing-a-long vibe was encouraged in Daniel. Elton spoke of the epiphany he had in 1990 where he got help to get sober and to get clean. He spoke of his mission to do more about HIV Aids raising money, increasing awareness and reducing stigma associated with it talking about the healing power of love and compassion to heal our sick world which served as the intro to I Want Love.
Sad Songs (Say So Much) got the crowd moving and up out of their seats. Elton thanked the crowd again acknowledging his fiftieth year of touring saying he was thrilled and blessed to be playing music for a living but he has a family now who need him and he needed them. To continue touring and travelling he thought would be selfish.
Holy smokes! The back end of the set was a real treasure trove of hits with the amazing Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, The Bitch Is Back, I’m Still Standing featuring plenty of archival footage from over the journey and Crocodile Rock with the Adelaide crowd taking care of the la-la-la-la’s finishing on Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.
The encore was a bittersweet moment to be honest knowing that this really was it (unless you’re going to the second show). Returning to the stage in a blue kimono to sing Your Song and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. There were a few tears as Elton ditched the kimono to reveal one of his glittery tracksuits walking on to a raised platform in to the future with the final image on screen showing him walking back down the Yellow Brick Road. With that the show was done and the exit music Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (sung with Kiki Dee) seem to fit with the end. Farewell Elton John! Legend! He might of said we won’t be forgotten but we’ll never forget Elton John.
Live Review By Rob Lyon