Elton John started planning his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, which started Saturday in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 2015, saying it’s been like an “army maneuver.”
He was involved in every aspect, including picking all the pre-show music that was played over the PA while the audience entered the arena.
While at the end of the night it’s all about the songs, there are many other things that go into the show. Among them is a brand new production with a video screen that runs the width of the stage and up to the rafters. It is framed by a faux brick path that has, for lack of a better description, sculptures on it highlighting his career, such as his performance at Dodger Stadium, his work with John Lennon, his performance on Soul Train and his role as the Pinball Wizard in The Who’s Tommy.
The huge video screen not only shows shots of Elton and his band, but also specially produced animations and films. One of the films, by his friend, photographer David LaChapelle, that is played during “Candle in the Wind,” recreated the fragility of Marilyn Monroe’s last photo session with photographer Bert Stern.
Another production element is Elton’s piano, which moved, literally, as it travels a few times on a track across the stage. It looks as though he's driving the piano.
While not as elaborate and frequent as Cher, Lady Gaga or Stevie Nicks, Elton had a few wardrobe changes, which include his glasses. For this he teamed up with Gucci’s Creative Director, Alessandro Michele, to create costumes exclusively for tour.
During “Border Song,” the screen flashes photos of many of Elton’s heroes – from the late Aretha Franklin to AIDS victim Ryan White, Nelson Mandela, Stephen Hawking, John Lennon, Princess Diana, Little Richard, Billie Jean King, and, at the end, his Grandmother, Ivy Sewell, one of the most influential people in his life, who dared him to dream bigger and made him believe that anything was possible.
And, for the night’s final number, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” highlights from his entire life are shown, while the edge of the stage and screen are lit in yellow.
The Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour will play more than 300 shows in front of an estimated six-million people across five continents before ending in 2021.
Elton says, “I feel incredibly privileged and grateful to have had the opportunity to perform around the world for the last 50 years. During that time, I have been able to witness a huge amount of social, political and cultural change. I want the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour to celebrate that.”
Up next is Philadelphia on Tuesday and Wednesday.