TAMPA — You could feel the love Sunday night during Elton John’s sold-out concert at Amalie Arena.
It came from excited fans, many of whom were dressed in dazzling thick-rimmed glasses and feather boas that John made part of her signature look over the years. And it was returned by Sir Elton, who told the audience he loved them after the first two songs.
The Tampa stop of the farewell tour was a long time coming. It was originally scheduled for 2018, but was postponed to 2019 due to illness. Following the sold-out November 2019 show in Tampa, John announced a second farewell tour, which was delayed due to the pandemic.
The Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour kicked off in January, but a few dates were postponed when the singer tested positive for COVID-19.
John started the show off with a bang, rolling out Bennie and the Jets because many fans were still taking their places. Dressed in a glittering tuxedo and glittering green glasses, he deftly worked the piano with an energy that never wavered during the more than two-hour set. John’s powerful voice is phenomenal.
The backdrop to the scene was a brick pattern decorated with symbols of John’s accomplishments throughout his 50-year career. They included The Lion King pattern, the train of souls logo and the Gucci logo. He framed a screen where scrolled videos illustrating songs all more different than each other. During Philadelphia Libertydancers dressed in rainbow-colored streetwear nodded to LGBTQ equality.
But it was more exciting when the screen showed John and his amazing band performing live. On stage were John Mahon and Nigel Olsson (drums, backing vocals), Ray Cooper (percussion), Davey Johnstone (guitar, backing vocals), Matt Bissonette (bass guitar, vocals) and Kim Bullard (keyboards). Johnstone, Olsson and Cooper have been playing with John since the 1970s.
The show climaxed with a nine-minute long version of The Rocket Man, which Johnstone really got into. He also shone for have mercy on the criminal.
During Levon, percussionist Cooper showed up, swinging a tambourine in a way not usually seen. This song rode into another massive jam that ended with John visibly catching his breath.
To slow things down, John performed candle in the windthe version dedicated to Marilyn Monroe, accompanied by a video montage of the iconic actor.
The singer kept his patter to a minimum, relatively. But he shared anecdotes about his music, like how Aretha Franklin recorded her border song when he was just starting out and that led to a lifelong friendship and working relationship. Before playing Someone saved my life tonighthe said it was one of his favorite songs he and his musical partner Bernie Taupin have ever written.
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The crowd sang along with favorites like little dancer and Sad songs (Say so much) and provided the fun laaaa-la-la-la-la-la part of crocodile rock. A montage of John’s greatest moments, including his appearances on train of souls and The simpsonsplayed during I’m still standing.
Indeed, John is still on his feet and singing and playing with such passion and fervor that it’s hard to imagine him wanting to hang up. The same goes for the band; these guys looked like they were having a blast.
A shower of golden confetti fell on the audience during Saturday night is good for fighting, the last song before the encore. John returned to the stage wearing a pink dress and heart-shaped glasses. He played his hit Cold heart, a duet with Dua Lipa, appeared on screen. He commented on how exciting it was to have a hit at 75, then played his first hit, Your song.
John ended the evening by recounting how many times he played in Tampa and Florida. He remarked that even if he won’t come back, he will never forget us.
“Farewell,” he said before launching into goodbye yellow brick road. He removed the dress, revealing a colorful tracksuit, then climbed onto a contraption which made him disappear into the back of the screen. It was hard to see him go.