Elton John thanked his UK fans for “52 years of amazing love and loyalty” as he said farewell last night (25) in the closing show at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, on the last British date of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.
The much-vaunted, two-hour show was widely described as Elton’s last-ever UK concert, but he has not ruled out the possibility of future live appearances. “Wow, I never thought I’d ever play Glastonbury.” he told the crowd. “It might be my last show ever in England, so I had better play well and I had better entertain you.” To those massed ranks, and millions more watching the live BBC coverage, it certainly felt like one of the longest reigns in performing history was reaching its noble conclusion.
Rocking with stalwart band
As promised, the setlist differed from that featured on all of his previous UK and European shows on the tour. Resplendent in gold suit, he opened in rocking style with The Who’s “Pinball Wizard,” making its first appearance in his set for more than a decade. With Davey Johnstone’s guitar solos as lithe as ever, there was a swift segue into “The Bitch Is Back,” Johnstone joined by fellow band stalwarts Ray Cooper on percussion and Nigel Olsson on drums.
Indeed, the morning after the show, a limited Pyramid Edition of Elton’s Diamonds compilation was announced, “reflecting last night’s historic setlist” as well as highlights from the 2017 collection. Members of his Rocket Club fan club members received first word of 100 signed copies of the release, which were available from 10am today UK time from the Elton John Eyewear pop-up store in London’s Soho.
“Daniel” also returned to the set, and there was an early appearance for “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” which has served as the final encore in the tour’s recent months. Describing his love of soul music, he reminisced about working with producer Thom Bell before reviving his version of the Spinners’ “Are You Ready For Love,” featuring the evening’s first guests, Jacob Lusk of Gabriels and the London Community Gospel Choir.
The next special appearance was by another young artist to benefit from his endorsement, Californian singer-songwriter Stephen Sanchez, who performed his hit “Until I Found You,” with John at the piano and the audience joining in enthusiastically, as they did for the ensuing “Your Song.”
A Killer guest appearance
As friends appeared ever more frequently, Brandon Flowers of the Killers – the first artist Elton thought of inviting, we learned – shared vocals on “Tiny Dancer,” and Rina Sawayama on “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” One notable absentee was Dua Lipa, whose part on “Cold Heart” was happily assumed by the crowd, and “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” was dedicated to George Michael, on what would have been his 60th birthday.
After wishing his devotees “love and health and happiness,” Elton’s final goodbye was with an epic, ten-minute “Rocket Man.” It will indeed be a long, long time before Glastonbury sees such a momentous farewell again.
Buy or stream the Pyramid Edition of Elton John’s Diamonds compilation.