Over his five-decade career, Elton John, the legendary British pianist and singer, has created some of the most memorable and enduring music, songs etched into the collective DNA of mankind.
They can be quite simple, like the basic four-chord glory of crocodile rockor an 11-minute magnum opus of dazzling complexity A Friend’s Funeral / Love Lies Bleeding.
But now that it’s almost over, suffice it to say how wonderful it has been to have Elton John on our radios and in our ears since the late 1960s.
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The entertainer, born 75 years ago as Reginald Kenneth Dwight, kicked off the final leg of his North American farewell tour at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. And yes, he felt love that night.
“America made me famous and I can’t thank this country enough,” he told the audience. “Thank you for the loyalty, the love, the kindness you have shown me.”
He has sold over 300 million records worldwide, played over 4,000 concerts in 80 countries and recorded one of the best-selling singles of all time, his 1997 revamp of candle in the wind to praise Princess Diana, which sold 33 million copies.
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Sir Elton (he was knighted in 1998) scored more than 70 top 40 hits, including nine No. 1s, and released seven No. 1 albums in the three-and-a-half-year period from 1972 to 1975 , a rhythm just after that of the Beatles.
He has five Grammy Awards, as well as a Tony Award for Aida. His song of Can you feel the love tonight in The Lion King the cinema has serenaded millions of children and will entertain future generations of little ones.
Gone are the outrageous suits and oversized glasses he was known for in the early 70s (he dressed as Donald Duck, Pac-Man, the Statue of Liberty, Minnie Mouse and a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball player , among others). And while the man hasn’t come across a sequin or feather he doesn’t adore, his wardrobe is (by Elton’s standards) a little tamer these days.
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He took the stage in a white tuxedo with black lapels and glittering purple glasses, walking somewhat shyly towards his shiny black piano to hammer out the instantly recognizable opening chord. Bennie and the jets.
The next step was Philadelphia Liberty, which he dedicated to his hometown crowd as “one of the greatest cities I’ve ever played in”. It was his 52nd concert in the City of Brotherly Love.
Throughout the night John released a dazzling array of hits spanning all musical styles and genres. The gospel phrasings and cadences that so influenced his early work were evident on border song and Take me to the pilotand even the simple radio clip Levon had an accelerated end of meeting.
He showed the prototypical power ballad, Don’t let the sun go down on mewith his close cousin Someone saved my life tonight.
And when longtime guitar sidekick Davey Johnstone donned an inverted Flying-V guitar, it was time for the rockers of the power chord arena, including Elton’s rockiest song of all. time, Saturday night is good for fightingand the brash, boastful, and Elton-to-the-bone Anthem The female dog is back.
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Elton largely avoided his famous falsetto; he still has 100 shows to go for next year’s farewell world tour, and he’s learned over the years how to retain his voice without sacrificing style and authenticity.
Regardless: the crowd happily provided him with the falsetto parts, including a mass chorus of the “la-la-la” chorus on crocodile rock. He reached back for a single deep track, have mercy on the criminalfeaturing Johnstone’s bluesy guitar riffs, putting him amidst dozens of smash hits.
And he avoided the tearful ones like Sorry seems to be the hardest word and tearing it up The last song about a farewell between a father and his son who is dying of AIDS, in favor of an optimistic and festive atmosphere.
All the girls love Aliceone of the first mainstream rock songs to focus on lesbian relationships in the early 70s, is a concert staple, as is Right from the Heart Your song. Before the closing number, goodbye yellow brick roadElton looked towards the finish line of his last round.
“I’m really looking forward to spending the rest of my life with my kids and my husband,” he said. “Be kind to yourself. Love each other.” An accomplished showman to the very end, Elton finished the song and was lifted into the sky on a hydraulic lift as a hole opened in a brick wall at the top of the stage, swallowed it up and closed.
So while Elton John will soon be gone from the stage, thank goodness his music is still alive.
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