Elton John sparkles on his Farewell tour at BST Festival in Hyde Park
The opener at BST Hyde Park is a glittering, star-spangled event, the concertgoers flooding the central London park dressed up and prepped for a memorable night of music from icon Elton John. Part of his Farewell tour, the gig brings to the stage hits from throughout his career, moving between the 70s albums (especially Goodbye Yellow Brick Road), with forays into the 80s and a nod to latest work Cold Heart with Dua Lipa. Far from a melancholic recollection, it’s a spectacular journey of rock, memories and emotions. The legendary star is accompanied by his faithful band, who put on a display alongside the showman.
The piano accents of Bennie and the Jets open the evening, and it takes less than a few seconds to inflame the audience. The artist’s excited face on the big screen perfectly mirrors the buzz from the field. The variety of styles in John’s repertoire is showcased from the very beginning, diving in and out of subtle and slow tunes to reemerge with upbeat numbers. From I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues via Border Song (dedicated to soul queen Aretha Franklin) he slides into the crystalline Tiny Dancer.
In alternate with the live feed, mixed videos are projected on the big screen, which at times feels pretty distracting – except towards the end, when more footage from Elton John’s past appearances and music videos is brought to the fore, and even more modern recordings are added to the setlist.
It’s an occasion that also revives some of the hits that have been performed less often, like Have Mercy on the Criminal, which is smooth and elongated, with a peppy xylophone addition. At this point, the atmosphere is warm enough to launch into space with Rocketman. Starting slowly, the classic explodes in the middle to the crowd’s roar, and beautifully stretches to the end. In Levon (from the album Madman Across the Water) percussionist Ray Cooper, in particular, is filled with elation; the song culminates in a flourishing piano and guitar duo from John and Davey Johnstone.
After a short pause, the icon returns, having swapped his classy white jacket with a gleaming multicoloured one, and the second act begins with an instrumental intro: Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding. After a touching thank you to the organisers, the fans, family and friends, John announces, “It’s time to dance!”. The last leg of the concert mainly features the bigger, funkier hits, starting with Sad Songs. Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me is an emotional call, famously as a duet with George Michael and here dedicated to his great memory.
From there, it’s a whirlwind: vivacious, fun, popping, I’m Still Standing and Crocodile Rock follow one after the other. For the encore, Elton John is left on his own with the piano, the band members behind the scenes. A touching rendition of Your Song is an unforgettable love letter, composed simply for his intense voice and piano keys. And a memorable finish rolls in with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
Goodbye, and thank you, Sir.
For further information and future events visit BST Hyde Park 2022: Elton John’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Tiny Dancer here: