Elton’s long (and distant) goodbye

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Photo: Tony Magee

Singer Sir Elton John’s “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” show has been touring Australian and NZ for the past three months, part of a two-year global farewell to concert performing. Though he has performed in Canberra during earlier tours, there was no fond goodbye for the national capital. “CityNews” music reviewer TONY MAGEE caught the show at Coffs Harbour International Stadium on February 26. Here’s what we missed… 

At 72, Elton John is just half way through his “final world tour”. The concert at Coffs Harbour was his 173rd performance so far. The man has incredible stamina and energy.

To an audience of some 20,000 concertgoers, Canberra’s Tate Sheridan opened the show – himself on keyboards and vocals with bass and drums, presenting a delightful set of his original songs.

Highlights included “Life was Lonely”, a heavy rock piece; “Aura”, a gospel style piece dedicated to Aretha Franklin and “I’m just a Melody Man”, a homage to all up-and-coming new artists trying their best to “make it”. Tate is one of those and he received appreciative applause from the audience.

Elton and band then appeared, bursting straight into “Benny and the Jets”. A great performance and a great opening.

The band comprises some of his most dedicated, talented and long-time members. Nigel Olsson on drums, Davey Johnstone on guitar and Ray Cooper on percussion. They were joined by Matt Bissonette on bass, Kim Bullard on synth and a second percussionist, John Mahon.

All of them also provided excellent backing vocals with superb harmonies.

As well as the big hits, Elton delved back in time to some of his earliest albums from 1969 to 1971, presenting such songs as “Red Indian Sunset” and “Levon”, which included an instrumental showcase of dazzling piano work from Elton and a searing, sparkling guitar solo from Davey Johnstone using his exquisite Austrian Rhinestone be-jewelled Gibson.

Then the band discretely left the stage, leaving Elton to sing us “Candle in the Wind” alone. Beautifully done, it was accompanied by a fabulous photo montage of Marilyn Monroe.
“Funeral for a Friend”, “Love Lies Bleeding”, “Don’t Let the Sun go Down on Me” and “The Bitch is Back” followed, all brilliantly performed, with Davey Johnstone opting for his yellow Gibson Flying V guitar.

Elton’s playing has not diminished with time. Flexible technique, lots of blues licks and the ability to sing without looking at the keys much at all.

Elton was in his best voice ever. It’s incredible to think that it failed him in Auckland just two weeks earlier.

“Your Song” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” formed his encore finale, which was preceded by the band all joining him at the front of the stage, taking their well deserved bows to a standing ovation with thunderous applause and cheers. 

Elton concluded by mentioning that Australia is the country he has toured more than any other in the world, adding that he loves our country and he loves us. And I believe he really meant it.

Elton John’s Australian tour finishes with two concerts at Sunshine Coast Stadium March 3 and 4, and the very final concert at Bankwest Stadium Sydney, March 7.

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