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Elton John brought his lengthy farewell tour to MSG (pics, review, setlist)

Last night (10/18), Elton John brought his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour” to NYC’s Madison Square Garden (which he called his favorite venue ever). While this is going to be a very long goodbye, as the tour is set to last three years and already includes/included 11 NYC-area shows, there was still a palpable energy pulsating through the building. It was a raucous crowd (which included luminaries such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, Russell Crowe, Donna Karan, Jann Wenner and of course Elton’s husband David Furnish among many others) that came to celebrate. A little after 8 PM, Elton made his way onto the large, ornate, wrap-around stage, sat at the piano and plucked out that unmistakeable intro to “Bennie and the Jets.” From there, it was a hits-filled show with nary a lull — one classic after another that lasted almost three hours. It was a show that capped, in his words, “an incredible journey and one that he will miss very much.”

Almost every song brought its own significant memories aided by the visuals projected onto the large video screen behind the band. There were animated characters from 1975’s classic album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy during its standout tracks “Philadelphia Freedom” and “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.” “Candle in the Wind” of course had Marilyn Monroe, and for “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding,” there were striking pictures of candles and flowers and tons of smoke with Elton playing the piano as it glided across the stage. There was an extended jammed out “Levon” and a rousing “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” that was dedicated to longtime musical partner Bernie Taupin and his family. There were poignant moments as well, such as when he introduced “Believe” from 1995’s Made in England. Elton spoke about getting sober in 1980, how it changed his life, and then referenced how it spurred him on to — among other things — start the Elton John AIDS Charity which has been remarkably successful in raising money to fight HIV and AIDS. This followed a minor screed about greedy drug companies (which must have had Hillary Clinton’s ears perked) but finished with a plea for more love and human kindness. For the most part, though, the evening was a party with people dancing everywhere and singing along to every word.

Aided by his most recent band, which includes longtime members guitarist Davey Johnstone, who serves as musical director, and stalwart drummer Nigel Olsson, Elton was in fine form. While maybe age has naturally taken some of that vocal prowess, the songs still sounded as great as ever. While the fan in me would have loved to hear him dig out some rarities such as “Street Kids” or “Billy Bones and the White Bird” from 1975’s vastly underrated, hard edged Rock of the Westies, you can’t quibble with that set.

Finally at the end, showing that ribald humor that’s always been a part of his repertoire and never shying away from poking fun at himself, he came out for the two-song encore dressed in a bathrobe (a glamorous, stylish one, natch). As the final song,“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” winded through, he and the piano glided back across the entire stage to its final exit off. When he came back onto the stage an oversized motorized lift chair appeared, a door opened and, in one final fun poke, he rode off.

Check out pictures of last night in the gallery above, and videos and the full setlist below.

Elton’s tour continues at MSG tonight (10/19), and he has more NYC-area shows at MSG on 11/8/18 and 11/9/18, Prudential Center on 3/2/19, MSG on 3/5/19 & 3/6/19, Barclays Center on 3/8/19 and 3/9/19, and Nassau Coliseum on 11/16/19 (plus tons of other dates in other cities). You can get tickets here.

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Elton John at MSG – 10/18/18 Setlist (via)
Bennie and the Jets
All the Girls Love Alice
I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
Border Song
Tiny Dancer
Philadelphia Freedom
Indian Sunset
Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
Take Me to the Pilot
Someone Saved My Life Tonight
Levon
Candle in the Wind
Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
Burn Down the Mission
Believe
Daniel
Sad Songs (Say So Much)
Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
The Bitch Is Back
I’m Still Standing
Crocodile Rock
Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Encore:
Your Song
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

photos by P Squared

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