Elton John kicks off the last US dates of his farewell tour

PHILADELPHIA — Goodbyes can be brutal. But Elton John continues to launch his extraordinary career with grace and enthusiasm, while ensuring fans savor a series of highlights from his colossal catalog.

At Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on Friday, a beaming John and his legendary band emerged before sunset and more than two hours and 23 songs later, the first date of the final US leg of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour was a footnote in history.

The show also marked the launch of the stadium leg of the tour, which will wrap up in Los Angeles in November before returning to Europe for the final run. It feels like another lifetime ago that John embarked on his long, winding goodbye; indeed, the world looked very different in 2018 when he made his show debut in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

But it still attracts baby boomers and millennial newcomers, a refreshing age group evident among the sold-out crowd of more than 40,000.

During the encore, John noted – with a bit of humble disbelief – that he was playing a recent hit, “Cold Cold Heart,” his mashup with Dua Lipa (which appeared on video) in tandem with his first-ever chart-topper. 1971, the truly timeless “Your Song”.

It’s a feat that’s both admirable and extremely unlikely to be replicated.

“Do you like” the Beatles? Consider attending their Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas while you can

Throughout the night, John, dressed in a bejeweled white tuxedo jacket, black trousers and lavender-rimmed glasses, appeared refreshed and happy behind his black Yamaha grand piano. The chart began with the familiar notes of “Bennie and the Jets,” followed by “Philadelphia Freedom,” with guitarist Davey Johnstone casually rolling out the song‘s jangly riff.

Elton John kicked off the final leg of his US tour - a stadium run - at Citizen Bank Park in Philadelphia on July 15, 2022.

80 for 80: Ranking some of Paul McCartney’s best songs for his birthday

John, 75, was delightfully hammy between songs, springing up from his piano bench to point and smile at the crowd as he gave thanks and led a gig that felt fast, but never rote.

While some songs (“I’m Still Standing”, “Tiny Dancer”) contained noticeably lower keys to suit John’s current range, he sounded mostly rugged, adding vocal embellishments at the end of an “I Guess That’s Why They Call” easy to swing. it the Blues” and injecting “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” with emphatic emotion.

The highlights of this trip to the sentimental street were numerous. Blurry effects on the video accompanying the ever ethereal “Rocket Man” added a wispy coating as the dreamy chorus morphed into an elongated piano coda. “Levon,” one of the underrated beauties of John’s creativity with lyricist Bernie Taupin, degenerated into gospel before returning to melody. And the epic instrumental “Funeral for a Friend,” a sonic eruption that blends into “Love Lies Bleeding,” remains a masterclass in musicality.

Elton John and his band of aces scoured his huge catalog for over two hours at the Philadelphia concert on July 15, 2022.

Although John’s bandmates never earned a nickname in the E Street Band, these exceptional players were an integral part of his gigs. Many, like dapper drummer Nigel Olsson (wearing his trademark gloves, headphones and a pink pocket square in his suit), treasure that is percussionist Ray Cooper and the distinctive Johnstone have shared stages with the maestro since the first concerts.

Percussionist John Mahon, keyboardist Kim Bullard and bassist Matt Bissonnette also add a musical flair that prompted John to comment on how much he enjoyed playing with this band.

Summary of the concerts: The Weeknd Tour is an apocalyptic rave

Elton John showcased his still robust piano skills at his July 15, 2022 concert in Philadelphia.

While their tension was expected given the volume of shows they played, the band also honed in on a few surprises in the set list.

The upbeat “All the Girls Love Alice,” from 1973’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album, first arrived this year (John unearthed the album’s track on numerous farewell dates pre- pandemic). But more unexpected was the start of the tour of “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters,” John’s 1972 fainting ode to New York that he hasn’t performed live since his 2018 Las Vegas run. was, as always, enchanting.

As the concert neared its conclusion – with fans realizing their time in John’s orbit was coming to an end – the musician offered heartfelt thanks and told the audience to “love each other” while wishing them “health, happiness and success”.

Then, as he did throughout the tour, John unpacked “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” his delicate reflection on life in transition and the ideal summary of a career that will forever be celebrated.