–by Sean Derrick
Musical icon Sir Elton John stopped at Enterprise Center in Saint Louis on Tuesday as part of his worldwide farewell tour, providing the sold-out crowd with a fitting performance for a man who built his legacy around catchy timeless hits swathed in glitz and pizzazz.
The tour, entitled “Farewell Yellow Brick Road, an obvious play on his smash hit “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, is part of a massive three year homage to his fans for supporting him the last 50 years.
Throughout the night John mixed hit songs with deep cut tracks, a choice some casual fans might not have wanted to hear, but as John stated during the show he wanted to do songs “I like to sing and play live”. He apologized if he left out any of the fan favorites.
This is the fifth time I have seen the legend live and, honestly, the only song I was really disappointed at not hearing was “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)”, a song he has not played live here since he played under the Arch at the VP Fair in 1982 (my first Elton John show). (For the record, I do remember being right next to the police van that brought him through the crowd to the stage and no one noticed him because he dressed up as a SLPD officer. I told my family that I thought Elton John was in disguise as a cop and no one believed me, that is until the next day when it became a verified story on the news.)
It was nice to hear songs like “Indian Sunset”, “All the Girls Love Alice”, and “Take Me to the Pilot” thrown in and watch him have fun instead of just regurgitating a greatest hits only show night after night. That’s not to say there weren’t a lot of hits in the set. On the contrary. John has so many hits that it would have taken a lot longer that the nearly three hour non stop set he played just to fit them all in. That’s what happens when you have been charting songs for nearly 50 years.
John was flanked by a huge projection screen that was framed with a 3-D mural of iconic moments and items throughout his career (think a totem pole-style frame that referenced many of his most endearing moments) like his boots, his appearance on Soul Train, his long-time writing partner Bernie Taupin, the Lion King, and many others.
John kicked off the show with his hit “Bennie and the Jets” then cruised through 24 songs with vivid imagery, throwback videos and photos spanning his career, a Marilyn Monroe lookalike for “Candle In the Wind”, fans, newsreels, and even drag queens (from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” for “The Bitch is back”).
John only stopped to talk a few times, mostly referencing Bernie Taupin, his AIDS foundation, and a long thank you to his fans.
Several songs were extended into jam sessions with varying tempo changes, like on “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)” and “Levon”, showcasing the band and their talents.
John’s 6-piece band included one of his original touring members 50 years ago in drummer Nigel Olsson. Olsson and the rest of the band (which included long time percussionist Ray Cooper, keyboardist Kim Bullard, bassist Matt Bissonette, percussionist John Mahon and guitarist Davey Johnstone) were solid in their delivery and even though John had a little difficulty reaching some of the higher notes it was barely noticeable with the band as tight as they were.
John rarely strayed from his grand piano (this one he calls “Nina”) most of the night, and rode it as it moved across the stage a few times, but still managed a few outfit changes. He came out wearing a black tux and switched to a pink flower covered jacked and pink pants for “Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”. For the Encore he came out in a fuchsia robe which he took off at the end of “Goodbye yellow Brick Road” to reveal his trademark track suit, which he wore as he rode up a lift to a door in the screen, waving goodbye to the audience which merged into him walking down the yellow brick road into the sunset.
I wouldn’t expect any other way to end his last show in Saint Louis…unless, of course, he adds another date on this massive three-year goodbye party. St. Louis fans who missed this show would love to get that chance.
be sure to check out the photo album after the setlist.
Elton John Setlist:
Bennie and the Jets
All the Girls Love Alice
I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
Rocket Man ( I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
Take Me to the Pilot
Someone Saved My Life Tonight
Candle In the Wind
Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
Burn Down the Mission
Sad Songs (Say So Much)
Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
The Bitch Is back
I’m Still Standing
Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road