On Jan. 30, Elton John played a two-hour concert in front of thousands at Oklahoma City’s Paycom Center.
John is currently on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, which began in fall of 2018. He was forced to postpone shows throughout 2020-21 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
John said this experience would be his last live tour, despite many musicians playing farewell tours in the past, only to return to the stage.
“I don’t want to travel anymore,” John said in a 2019 interview. “I’ve been traveling since I was 17. Ten years ago, if you asked me that question I would have said ‘you’re crazy,’ but I have two kids now, I have a family, and I want to spend time with my family.”
Despite retiring from touring, John said he would not stop making music and putting out albums.
“I will make records and I will do an occasional show,” John said. “I’m not going to stop being creative.”
The Oklahoma City show was originally scheduled for July 5, 2020. It was John’s fifth show since returning to the road earlier in 2022.
Many feared that the Oklahoma City concert would be postponed again when, on Jan. 25, John announced via his Instagram story that he contracted the coronavirus. John postponed his two Dallas shows but said he fully expected to be back on the road by his Jan. 29 show in Little Rock.
Fortunately for fans, the singer recovered, made it to the Sooner State and gave a fantastic performance.
The show’s setlist consisted of some of John’s greatest hits spanning over his 50-plus year career, although his 1973 record, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” was most represented.
From start to finish, the concert was something special. John’s performance showed no signs he had been coronavirus just five days earlier. His voice was as strong as ever, and his piano playing was immaculate.
John took care when it came to preparing a setlist as well. He arranged the songs in such a way that the audience would never get bored. For every deep track not as well-known, there were about two hits to draw even the most casual Elton John fans back in.
The opener, however, was one of the most powerful moments of the concert. The lights were dimmed until John took the stage and hit the opening chord to “Bennie and the Jets.” Only then did the lights turn on, revealing the Rocketman and his backing band. This made the audience erupt in cheers and applause, and that attitude remained consistent throughout the entire show.
John also performed other well-known hits such as “Tiny Dancer,” “I’m Still Standing,” “Candle in the Wind,” and “Your Song.” A full setlist can be viewed here.
The 2022 leg of the Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour features a few songs that haven’t gotten much live exposure over the past few years. The first was “Have Mercy on the Criminal.” While this song was released back in 1973 (on the album “Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player”), it had never been performed live consistently until this year. During the performance of this song, the stage was surrounded in red lights, adding to the haunting instrumentation and vocal performance. John’s longtime guitarist, Davey Johnstone, also provided an emotional “crying” guitar solo for this number.
While “Have Mercy on the Criminal” had been performed once or twice before, John’s recent No. 1 single entitled “Cold Heart (PNAU Remix)” (a collaboration with Dua Lipa) made its live debut during this leg of the tour. The song served as the opening number to John’s encore and was the only song in the entire show where I had a hard time hearing John as he was drowned out by the crowd. It was also the only song that required complete use of a backing track as John was the only one on the stage at the time providing vocals.
For a guy who simply sits at a piano and sings, the entire show was enjoyable. Moving platforms that allowed John and his piano to travel across stage in the middle of a song and the backing band that added to the bombastic nature of some of his songs were clear examples of this.
However, what made this concert so special was the atmosphere. Throughout each of the 22 songs, fans belted out each one. Among them, were people of all ages: people who knew of John since the beginning, people in college, even children. The turnout alone really speaks to the timelessness of John’s music.
The best part about this concert experience, however, was listening to this enduring music and sharing a space with a true living legend for the evening.
John performed in Kansas City on Tuesday, Feb. 1, and will perform in Chicago tomorrow, Feb. 4. From there, he will keep performing throughout the U.S. until November 2022, with a few breaks in between to perform in England.
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