Review: Elton John at Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, December 10th, 2019

When Elton John announced in early 2018 that he was set to say goodbye to his fans with one final world tour, many would’ve found it hard to believe.

After all, Elton is a perennial musician, a constant figure on the scene, and someone who many of us may have even taken for granted as the years have gone by.

Noting that the tour would see him “go out with a bang” and would “take three years probably”, he shared the bittersweet news with us back in February that Australians would be able to wave goodbye across the end of 2019 and the start of 2020.

Having kicked off his final local tour at the end of November, Sir Elton found his way into Melbourne on Tuesday night, kicking off the first of four dates in the Victorian capital with a show that his fans will never forget.

Check out Elton John’s ‘Bennie And The Jets’:

YouTube VideoPlay

When it comes to a final run of shows though, the question remains; just how do you effectively wrap up your career in a fitting manner that also offers a sense of conclusion?

That was likely the thought that countless fans were thinking when they rolled up to the Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday evening, with supporters new and old gearing up to send off the musical icon in style.

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With these same fans being met by folks on stilts dressed in Elton John’s Dodgers uniform, or his iconic white feather suit, it was clear to all and sundry that this was not just going to be a run-of-the-mill concert, but rather it would be a celebration of a musical life well-lived, and a send off that would resonate through the local history books.

As flashing pairs of glasses blinked their luminous hearts out around the arena, a cacophony of noise signalled the arrival of Elton and his six-piece band, with the iconic opening chords of ‘Bennie And The Jets’ getting the evening into full swing.

Dressed in a shiny suit with red glasses, Elton was every bit the iconic showman we’ve known him to be, leading a massive singalong of classic lines as kaleidoscopic visuals accompanied each and every note.

With even the most basic movements such as standing up from his piano bench generating rapturous applause, it was obvious that Elton had us all in the palm of his hand – a notion that he would in no way let go to waste.

As tracks such as ‘All The Girls Love Alice’, ‘I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues’, and ‘Border Song’ rang out around us, each song found itself accompanied with fitting visuals, as Elton offered up memories of the tracks from time to time, taking every opportunity to thank us for our constant support along the way.

Check out Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’:

YouTube VideoPlay

As an immersive visual tale accompanied the iconic ‘Tiny Dancer’, it was another cut from Madman Across The Water that stole the first half of the show, with Elton and drummer Ray Cooper delivering a mesmerising rendition of the track that could only be described as a musical tour de force.

While Elton’s piano and vocals led the track, it was Cooper’s almost inhuman percussive abilities that kept us mesmerised, truly turning it into the cinematic masterpiece that its songwriters intended it to be, and definitely earning the standing ovation it received.

As classics like ‘Rocket Man’ followed, the enduring ‘Levon’ saw us treated to one of the evening’s first lengthy jams, with the usually-five-minute tune being extended to at least double that, as guitarist Davey Johnstone dished out mesmerising solos (including a touch of The Beatles’ ‘Day Tripper’) as if it were a bodily function, pushing the instrument to both its physical and musical limits.

To mark the halfway point of the main set though, it was the opener to 1973’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, that helped set the mood, with the lengthy ‘Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding’ beginning with dark lights, smoke machines, and simulated rain and thunder, helping to evoke the morbid feelings the track suggests.

Coinciding with a costume change from Elton, the tune undoubtedly provided each of his bandmembers with a chance to showcase their skills, with each and every musician being given a chance to truly shine.

Check out Elton John’s ‘Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding’:

YouTube VideoPlay

As a lengthy message about removing the stigma of HIV and the progress that his Elton John AIDS Foundation has made, the man himself ran through a trio of songs such as ‘I Want Love’ that effectively showed us it was all upbeat gold from here on out.

After wishing us farewell and thanking us once again for our unending support, it felt as though we had been transported into a copy of his latest greatest hits album, with rocking tunes like ‘The Bitch Is Back’, ‘Crocodile Rock’, and ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’ receiving some of the biggest and most positive responses for the night.

Of course, following the customary encore break, we were treated to a powerful one-two punch of the classic ‘Your Song’ and tour namesake ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’, not only showing that Elton knows how to pick a setlist properly, but finishing off with one of his strongest and most fitting tracks.

As applause rang out, Elton somewhat mimicked the artwork of his Goodbye Yellow Brick Road record, descending up the stage on a moving platform, only for a door amongst the backdrop of stars to appear, swallowing him up, and sending him off in the most typically-extravagant fashion.

Check out Elton John’s ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’:

YouTube VideoPlay

After more than 50 years in the game, one could forgive Elton John if he was to appear somewhat past it, or if his performance left something to be desired. After all, he is the first to admit that he’s no longer the young man that made headlines for extreme and excessive behaviour, truly living the rock and roll lifestyle during his younger years.

However, apart from a few variations on his vocal delivery, it’s hard to find anything about the icon’s performance that leaves anything to be desired if you’re arriving straight from a listen of his discography.

With both he and his band dishing out a set full of classic hits, it’s clear that he not only knows what fans want to hear, but that he knows how to sum up his career in what feels like an all-too short three-hour window.

While there were no outbursts directed at security at the first show of the Melbourne leg of his tour, Elton John’s performance will still indeed be memorable for other reasons. Whether it’s the memories made by the adept performances of classics, or the exuberant, joyful singalongs that each and every track inspired, there’s no denying that Elton John is a consummate professional.

Despite the fact that we’re witnessing a legend bow out while still at the top of his game, almost every single person in attendance could have been forgiven for thinking this farewell tour is nothing but a ruse, with more to come years down the line.

Sadly, it’s the real deal, and with performances like this on offer, it’s going to be a shame to have to bid them farewell as the tour continues. If you’ve got the chance to see Elton John one last time while he’s in the country, please take it, lest you regret what could have been.

Check out Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’:

YouTube VideoPlay

Elton John @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne 10/12/19 Setlist

‘Bennie And The Jets’
‘All The Girls Love Alice’
‘I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues’
‘Border Song’
‘Tiny Dancer’
‘Philadelphia Freedom’
‘Indian Sunset’
‘Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time)’
‘Take Me To The Pilot’
‘Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word’
‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight’
‘Levon’
‘Candle In The Wind’
‘Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding’
‘Burn Down The Mission’
‘Daniel’
‘I Want Love’
‘Sad Songs (Say So Much)’
‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’
‘The Bitch Is Back’
‘I’m Still Standing’
‘Crocodile Rock’
‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’

Encore:

‘Your Song’
‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’

Elton John Farewell Yellow Brick Road Australia 2019-2020

Remaining Dates

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, VIC
Tickets: Ticketek

Saturday, December 14th, 2019
Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, VIC
Tickets: Ticketek

Sunday, December 15th, 2019
Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, VIC
Tickets: Ticketek

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019
Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, QLD
Tickets: Ticketek

Thursday, December 19th, 2019
Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, QLD
Tickets: Ticketek

Saturday, December 21st, 2019
ICC Sydney Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Tickets: Ticketek

Monday, December 23rd, 2019
ICC Sydney Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Tickets: Ticketek

Tuesday, January 7th, 2020
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, NSW
Tickets: Ticketek

Thursday, January 9th, 2020
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, NSW
Tickets: Ticketek

Saturday, January 11th, 2020
Hope Estate, Hunter Valley, NSW
Tickets: Ticketek

Sunday, January 12th, 2020
Hope Estate, Hunter Valley, NSW
Tickets: Ticketek

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, NSW
Tickets: Ticketek

Thursday, January 14th, 2020
Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, QLD
Tickets: Ticketek

Saturday, January 18th, 2020
A Day On The Green
Sirromet Wines, Mount Cotton, QLD
Tickets: Ticketmaster

Sunday, January 19th, 2020
A Day On The Green
Sirromet Wines, Mount Cotton, QLD
Tickets: Ticketmaster

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020
Carrington Park, Bathurst, NSW
Tickets: Ticketek

Saturday, January 25th, 2020
Hanging Rock, Woodend, VIC
Tickets: Ticketmaster

Sunday, January 26th, 2020
Hanging Rock, Woodend, VIC
Tickets: Ticketmaster

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020
A Day On The Green
All Saints Estate, Rutherglen, VIC
Tickets: Ticketmaster

Friday, January 31st, 2020
A Day On The Green
Rochford Wines, Yarra Valley, VIC
Tickets: Ticketmaster

Saturday, February 1st, 2020
A Day On The Green
Rochford Wines, Yarra Valley, VIC
Tickets: Ticketmaster