WE WERE THERE – Before returning to Bercy in June 2023 for his final Parisian dates, the English pop star gave two spectacular concerts at La Défense Arena.
Announced in January 2018, Elton John’s farewell stage tour, dubbed Farwell Yellow Brock Road Tour – was due to end in 2021. This was without counting on the Covid 19 pandemic, as well as a hip injury to the singer, which forced the production to postpone many dates. To date, the experiment will end next summer, five years after it kicked off. Before returning to Bercy in June 2023 for his final Parisian dates, Elton John was at La Défense Arena on June 11 and 12. This Sunday, he gave his sixtieth concert in the capital. “I have fond memories of a series of concerts at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in 1979”, he even specified in a vibrant tribute to France. “You know, I own a house in Nice”, he even explained.
One minute after the announced time, i.e. 7:01 p.m., the show could begin, to the sound of its resumption of Pinball Wizard of the Who in the sound. Sitting at the piano, in a kitsch and sequined suit, the septuagenarian began with Bennie and the Jets, one of his most soulful compositions. Slowing down the tempo, striking the chords with force, the artist was already holding the assembly spellbound. Despite scandalous acoustics, the 32,000 spectators, whose average age was quite high, reserved a triumph for the showman. The production is the same as at Bercy in 2019, with three giant screens in the background. In turn, we will see images worthy of a Benetton spot from the 1980s, photos of Martin Parr, certainly taken from the singer’s personal collection, and other films to his glory.
“I am very happy to be here tonight,” he will say in cooking English. The list of songs is dizzying. Twenty hits drawn from the golden age of the singer’s career, from the early 1970s to the middle of the following decade. The only exception in the form of bad taste, the horrible virtual duet with Dua Lipa on a mashup between Sacrifice and Rocket Man allowed Elton John to emphasize that he was proud to have landed a hit at the age of 75 under the title cold heart52 years after its first.
The Gospel History border song, played in piano voice is dedicated to Aretha Franklin, who interpreted it. If Elton John sings wonderfully, his aggressive piano playing produces an often irritating sound, amplified by the deplorable sound system of the room. Moreover, the singer will throw a spade at his sound engineer during the concert. Tiny Dancerpiece of 1971 rehabilitated by the film Almost Famous in 2000, is one of the highlights of the evening.
Elton John has only kind words about his musicians in black suits and ties, which he puts forward very much. Nigel Ollson, on drums, has been playing with him since… 1969! Scottish guitarist Davey Johnstone joined in 1972. As for percussionist Ray Cooper, star of the evening, he has been alongside Elton John since 1973! All the standards written by Bernie Taupin and composed by the pianist play there: Rocket Man recorded in the Paris region at the beginning of the seventies, Take me to the pilot, Someone saved My life tonight and its celestial vocal harmonies… But also Levonsong more American than nature. Funeral for a Friendopening instrumental of Goodby Yellow Brick Roadthe star’s most beloved album, is the pretext for a deluge of sound and a first change of outfit: pink sequined glasses, a jacket a little less kitsch than the first.
To show his enthusiasm, Elton John slams the lid of the piano loudly before getting up to take a few steps. At 75, after many health problems, the man moves with difficulty. This does not affect his musical faculties in any way. Superb pianist, great singer, he shows no weakness in more than two hours of performance. Few ballads in a repertoire that gives pride of place to the most rock dimension of an artist whose inspiration softened considerably from the mid-1980s. Your Songwho made him known to the whole world in 1970, he returns to the stage in a bathrobe-dressing gown, before concluding with Goodbye Yellow Brick Roadthe very type of song that attests to the greatness of the character.
SEE ALSO – Suffering from pneumonia, Elton John interrupts a concert on the verge of tears