Rocket Man, a classic, pops up half an hour into the show and is one of the first fireworks. The three giant screens project a starry galaxy while Sir Elton lengthens the piece in a boogie style on the piano. Applause from the 32,000 people (supposed to be seated but standing in front of their seats) at the Paris Défense Arena. The British megastar then gets up from his piano to pace the stage and greet his audience.
A great way to silence the nasty rumors about his state of health and show that his hip operation in the fall of 2021 is just a bad memory. The tabloids were made alarming by photographing him on June 1, at the German airport of Leipzig, in a wheelchair. Pictures published just before his performance – pre-recorded on video – for the jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. “The truth is that I am in excellent health, I love my shows and I play and sing at my best”, he immediately posted on Instagram. He gave living proof of this in Paris, even if he appeared a little tired after 2h30 of concert.
Of the Bennie & the Jets, introductory piece, the voice is in place and the right hand (the one on the side of the big diamond in the ear) does the job on the keyboard for the variations. In Paris, the singer appears in a tail coat embroidered with glitter. The sneakers are the same red as the lenses of his glasses, circled with small diamonds. In the middle of the show, while his six musicians – dressed like “Blues Brothers” – provide a musical interlude, he returns changed, with a red Harlequin jacket and black. For the encore, he ends up in a kitsch dressing gown.
The visual tables are neat. The piece I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues is accompanied on the screens by a slide show by the famous British photographer Martin Parr, with couples who are no longer on the same wavelength.
Have Mercy on the Criminal (“Have mercy on the criminal”) is served by an animated film about a convict trying to escape. The rhythm section, made up of a drummer and two percussionists, is having a blast. To figure the shots fired at the fugitive, they hammer a big “bang”, cutting off the piece, which startles the audience.
This interaction between the animated film and the playing of the musicians on stage recalls the scenography of Gorillaz, a group by Damon Albarn, with which Elton John has moreover collaborated recently.
“I love France”
This device shows that Elton John is always listening. The farewells to the stage are not those to the music. For the release of The Lockdown Sessionsend of 2021, the author of Your Song confided in videoconference to the press: “To say that I would have gone around the question would be the end of everything. I am more excited about the music than ever”.
To delight his audience (faithful, 300 million albums sold in his career), his farewell tour is a best-of. I’m Still Standing is thus illustrated with a compilation of videos that mark its trajectory. The original clip of I’m Still Standing (1983) was filmed in Cannes. Elton John fell in love with France, in general, and the Côte d’Azur, in particular (he has a house in Nice), during this period. “I love France”he also dropped at the end of the show.
He will return to Paris in June 2023: his XXL farewell tour takes him across Europe, New Zealand, USA, Canada and the United Kingdom. The opportunity, for another year, to hear him chant on stage Time to dance! (“It’s time to dance”!) and perform, as Paris did.