Elton John is saying his last goodbyes to the New York area this weekend with his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour.
After beginning way back in September 2018, the swan-song trek — from the man who gave us “Your Song” with his first hit 52 years ago — pulled up his piano to MetLife Stadium on Saturday night for the first of his two final local shows.
And from the moment he launched the show by striking the unmistakable chords of his 1973 classic “Bennie and the Jets,” the 75-year-old music legend had the crowd rocking instead of fighting on this Saturday night.
But John was still awfully robust, the singer wore a glittery black-and-white ensemble that, despite the pink-and-green flowers adorning his tailcoat, was relatively understated by the young Elton’s standards. John was awfully robust of voice and vigorous of fingers for a man who is retiring from the road.
Perhaps it helped that John had five days of rest since his last concert on this stadium tour, which continues at MetLife on Sunday night. But the man was on fire on a night of sweltering heat and humidity that would wipe out a much younger man.
Whether he was stomping the ivories into soulful submission on numbers such as “Philadelphia Freedom” and “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues,” or prancing across the keys with the greatest of grace on “Tiny Dancer,” John was a joy as he delivered crowd favorite after crowd favorite.
“Rocket Man”—which inspired the title of his 2019 biopic—soared to the skies over MetLife with iPhones lighting up the night like stars, as John and band engaged in some bluesy jamming during an extended outro.
Meanwhile, two legendary women were at the heart and soul of two highlights. John stripped it down to just him on piano for a tender rendition of “Candle in the Wind” that lit Marilyn Monroe’s flame once again.
Before performing “Border Song,” John recalled how Aretha Franklin had hijacked the tune and made it hers. Then he shared how an ailing Franklin had done her last performance ever for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and “completely destroyed the place.” Dedicating “Border Song” to the Queen of Soul, he seemed to channel her, putting some extra growl and gospel into his voice.
Although these are his final farewell shows in the NYC area, John — whose years-long tour was, like many others, postponed because of COVID — still has one long goodbye ahead of him. After the North American leg of his stadium shows, which kicked off in Philadelphia on July 15, he heads to Australia and Europe in 2023 for concerts that run through next July.
Clearly, the Rocket Man is going out with one epically big bang.
“I want to spend the rest of my life with my family,” he told the crowd as he reflected on his farewell before singing “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” at the end. “But I’ve had one helluva ride.”