Few musicians are able to take the stage without any warning and immediately capture the audience’s attention. Elton John, even at 72-years-old, is one of those people.
On Saturday night at the Schottenstein Center, John was the star of his own show as he sat center stage behind his black grand piano. There was very little else decorating the stage other than an ornate border surrounding the large screen behind John that held carvings of various symbols throughout John’s career, such as the Gucci logo, the Lion King head and John’s own likeness.
As an artist with countless hits to choose from, he chose to open the concert with “Bennie and the Jets,” a great choice. John appeared with lights flashing in the same beat to the iconic opening of the song, and immediately went into a full-bodied performance.
From there, John and his six-piece band played three back-to-back songs before finally addressing the crowd.
John thanked the audience for attending his farewell tour, and said that it was “very hard” to decide his final setlist.
“I had to pick from so many songs, but I picked the ones that were my favorite to perform,” John said.
After taking a brief pause to speak about the “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour, his final tour ever, John launched into “Border Song.” The hook of the song is “he’s my brother / let us live in peace,” so it seemed fitting that there was a video montage paying homage to the Civil Rights movement playing.
As a longtime fan of Elton John, I was holding my breath for “Tiny Dancer” until he finally performed it, which was easily one of the highlights of my night.
With only one costume change and minimal special effects (other than various video montages) throughout his two-and-a-half hour performance, John did not rely on flashy dancing or witty repertoire with the audience to capture our attention. His voice and infectious enthusiasm commanded the arena to hang onto his every word.
The effects that John did use, however, only enhanced his performance. There was new lighting for every song he sang, and usually a video to accompany his song. During “Rocket Man,” the giant screen behind John made it seem as if though the audience were soaring through outer space, and spotlights into the crowd made the Schottenstein Center look like it was dotted with dozens of tiny stars.
After speaking in the third person and referring to himself as “Elton,” John announced “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” as one of the most deeply personal songs he had ever written. The emotion he sang with was tangible and I think I can speak on behalf of the entire room when I say tears were definitely flowing.
From there, John launched into “Levon,” which led to him leaving stage for a five minute break to change outfits. He came out donning his iconic pink, rhinestone glasses and a black suit jacket with pink flowers and matching pink pants. This is when the energy really picked up.
John finished out his set with “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” “The B*tch is Back,” “I’m Still Standing,” “Crocodile Rock” and “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.”
After exiting the stage, John returned for an encore to dedicate “Your Song” to Columbus. He then thanked everyone for what seemed like the hundredth time for coming, as if his performance was not all the thanks anyone needed, and began “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”
At the end of the song, John stepped onto a platform that went back into the screen of the stage, making it seem as if he had stepped back onto the iconic yellow brick road.
As far as goodbyes go, John is clearly skilled at them. His farewell has to be one of the most iconic in music history, and if you were not able to see him off, I apologize, because it was one for the books.