Launched in 2018, the English farewell tour stopped over this weekend at the Paris La Defense Arena. A generous show of 2h20, in front of 62,000 people in total.
Rumor has it Elton wasn’t happy. He, who knows the halls of Paris so well, performed on Saturday June 11 for the first time in his long career at the Paris La Défense Arena. That evening the spectators noticed his annoyance underlined by a loud “what the fuck” for his team. The latter has therefore done what is necessary to raise the bar – the sound is always a concern in the huge arena of the heights of the Seine. At 7 p.m. sharp, Elton sits down at the piano and strikes the first chords of “Bennie & the Jets”. The 30,000 spectators applauded the Englishman and his six musicians – including no less than 3 percussionists. Elton John intends to make noise, far from the intimacy in which we sometimes heard him in Paris.
To read : With Elton John on his farewell tour
But for his farewell, the Englishman chose to embark on the tube highway, regularly interspersed with more personal road exits. After the opening trio, he recounts “the incredible luck that Bernie Taupin and I had in 1970 to see our song covered by Aretha Franklin. I then had the pleasure of meeting her several times. Here is “Border song”, for her”. Elton no longer leaps on his piano, but still wears sequined blue glasses. Between two titles, he leaves his folding seat, advances towards the crowd, knows how to put on a show despite his 75 years and a somewhat limping gait. But no need for tricks, despite the three giant screens that frame the stage, the music is enough on its own. “Tiny Dancer” has the crowd singing. If “Have mercy on the criminal” is totally useless, “Rocket Man” on the other hand allows the Paris la Défense Arena to commune. We nevertheless deplore useless musical stretching, especially since the sound is unbalanced not seeking finesse, but only efficiency. This obviously benefits “Someone saved my life tonight” but harms “Candle in the wind” which would have gone just as well in piano/voice.
After an hour ten, Elton slips off to change, comes back in blue and pink and lets himself be carried away by his piano. “Funeral for a friend / loves lies bleeding”, the opening of the disc “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, finally takes off the concert. Despite an uninspired “Burn down the mission”, the series of hits that follow impresses. “Sad Songs” – a rare survivor of the 80s, while the 90s and 2000s are ignored – opens the ball. “The next one is for you, you the Parisian public who have always responded present”, says Elton to present “Sorry seems to be the hardest word”. Pit and bleachers are now standing for the Final Four, a jubilant sequence of the most rock hits: “The bitch is back”, “I’m still standing” and its retro visuals, “Crocodile rock”, “for my fans” and finally a “Saturday night’s alright for fighting” removed. Unlike 2019, Elton takes the time to play the classics in their entirety, leaving Davey Johnstone to take on some somewhat antiquated guitar solos. Behind the barrels, Nigel Olsson smiles, when Ray Cooper jumps behind his percussion. All these little people leave the stage at 9:10 p.m., to the cheers of the crowd.
A single reminder for which Elton reappears in a bathrobe – certainly stamped with his name … Sitting facing the piano, he launches into “Cold Heart”, a mash-up of “Sacrifice” and “Rocket Man” sung virtually with Dua Lipa. The beats resonate in the Arena, which is caught up in the ridiculousness of the situation. “It’s my last number one to date, smiles Elton, so now I can play you my first”. When he attacks the first notes of “Your Song”, Paris exults. He may have interpreted it more than 2000 times, the magic operates again and again. Even him, the man who has come back from everything, seems to let himself be won over by emotion. “It was my sixtieth concert in Paris, where I have been performing since 1979, he explains, so thank you for all these years, I will never forget you”, says the star as his piano heads for the other side of the scene. Elton drops the bathrobe at the last bar of “Godbye Yellow Brick Road” revealing a so chic tracksuit. He then flies to the giant screen and greets Paris with a smile on his face. In a year, he will be back for three evenings at Bercy – postponed twice. Will he be more moved than last night? Because if Elton John clearly still knows how to put on the show, we felt he was totally in control, mastering the evening with obvious professionalism. Generous but almost too serious. Strongly the ultimate date for an ultimate madness…
Setlist of June 12, Paris, Paris La Défense Arena
1/ Bennie & the Jets
2/ Philadelphia Freedom
3/ I guess that’s what they call it the blues
4/ Border Song
5/ Tiny Dancer
6/ Have mercy on the criminal
7/ Rocket Man
8/ Take me to the Pilot
9/ Someone saved my life tonight
11/ Candle in the wind
12/ Funeral for a friend / Loves Lies Bleeding
13/ Burn down the mission
14/ Sad songs (say so much)
15/ Sorry seems to be the hardest word
16/ Don’t let the Sun go down on me
17/ The Bitch is back
18/ I’m still standing
19/ Crocodile Rock
20/ Saturday night’s alright for fighting
21/ Cold Heart
22/ Your Song
23/ Goodbye Yellow Brick Road