Allstate Arena, Rosemont
Friday, February 15, 2019
There’s hardly been a period in his 50-year career when Elton John hasn’t been on the road, which makes the desire to retire completely understandable, especially now that he’s 71 and itching for increased time with family. Though it sent a wave of sadness throughout his sizeable fan base now several generations wide, that decision hasn’t exactly been bad for business, prompting immediate sell outs (and some serious scalping) on every date of the “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” outing, including a double header last fall at the United Center and a second set at the Allstate Arena during the front of 2019.
During the opener of that latter pair (which continued last Saturday), the singer/songwriter/piano man made sure everyone got their money’s worth and then some, delivering exactly two dozen tunes with his veteran band and a lavish visual production filled with vintage footage and atmospheric video clips. And considering John doesn’t have any new material, that meant only the oldies plucked primarily out of the 1970s, with hints of his brighter spots in the ‘80s and nothing fresher than 1995.
However, that’s not to say the show felt stale in any way whatsoever, instead pointing to just how timeless tunes such as the blast of a beginning “Bennie And The Jets” have become. In fact, the almost three-hour evening was practically an endless sing-a-long thanks to “Tiny Dancer,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time),” “Candle In The Wind” and countless others that have been woven into the very fabric of pop culture consciousness.
Even so, Elton did occasionally keep die-hards on their toes, pulling out “All The Girls Love Alice” right towards the top, plus “Border Song,” “Indian Sunset” and a particularly adventurous “Burn Down The Mission.” Of course, the majority of the audience probably came strictly for the classics and there were plenty of those in both ballad contexts (“Daniel,” “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” “Your Song”) and good ole’ fashioned rock n’ rollers (“The Bitch Is Back,” “I’m Still Standing,” “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting”). There was even an awkward but devilishly amusing diva moment when the headliner threw a drink towards his backers prior to “Sad Songs (Say So Much)” and quipped “we’ll do it when I’m ready,” but after regaining composure, resumed without a hitch.
As the retrospective progressed, the tone became increasingly bittersweet, further amplified by John’s reflections and appreciation for five decades’ worth of support. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” was a natural place to wrap, surely swelling up lumps in the throats of many who theoretically won’t ever get the opportunity to see the living legend again, but perhaps most sobering, winding down an entire era of musical icons who won’t ever be matched.
-Review and photos by Andy Argyrakis
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