Third time’s the charm for Elton John to say goodbye to Dublin. Tuesday night’s concert, part of the 75-year-old musician’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, had been rescheduled twice, from December 2020 to 2021 and finally March 2023.
There was no support act before the sequin-clad Elton took to the keys of his grand piano just after 8pm, belting out Bennie and the Jets.
The first of two sold-out nights in the 3Arena, the gig was a long awaited and lengthy goodbye with a career-spanning set lasting just over two and a half hours.
“It’s been an awful long time since you bought these tickets,” Elton says to the crowd, blaming Covid and a hip problem. “We’re going to make up for it.”
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I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues was followed by Border Song, dedicated to the late Aretha Franklin who once covered the song and was sung by her in her last live show, a performance for the Elton John Aids Foundation. As Elton himself said: “there aren’t many people that great”.
Tiny Dancer swayed by with the crowd enamoured. The giant flat screen forming the backdrop continued playing what seemed like short films to accompany the songs when it wasn’t showing live feeds or graphics. While the graphics were well animated and live action clips were compiled beautifully, showing an English seaside holiday or daily Los Angeles life, they at times felt like a distraction on the same stage as The Pinball Wizard.
[ In pictures: Elton John’s final tour live in Dublin ]
The main exception to this was the galactic themed backdrop for Rocket Man, the lights leaving the audience in a stadium of stars at times. The elongated version of this hit gave Elton’s band a chance to step up and allow the guitarist and percussionist some tasteful improvisation before the climax, earning them a roar of “G’wan Elton!” and one of the biggest standing ovations of the night.
The grand piano glided across the width of the stage for Candle In The Wind as Elton held court solo, before briefly disappearing for a costume change.
Little concern needs to be expressed for Elton’s abilities. Every ivory strike was pinpoint accurate, with dexterity aplenty for multiple solos. His voice, despite the decades performing on stages around the world, was clear with a strength only gained from those years of experience.
Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – dedicated to U2 – a pounding rendition of The Bitch is Back and a confetti-covered Saturday Night’s Alright drove the show to an encore with Cold Heart sang to a backing track in his dressing gown.
Elton takes a moment after wrapping up Your Song, thanking the audience, seeing a family in the front row. “That’s why I’m wrapping it up. To spend more time with mine.”
“This is my sixth show in this venue, my 27th show in Ireland. Coming to Ireland has always been a pleasure ... I will miss you and your kindness. You never hear about kindness in the Daily Mail.”
Next, the Yellow Brick Road leads up Belfast on Thursday, and after that, an undoubtedly earned spot in music history.