Elton John closes a circle in Barcelona 44 years later

That an artist announces a farewell tour is not synonymous, far from it, that he is going to retire forever.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
23 May 2023 Tuesday 22:22
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Elton John closes a circle in Barcelona 44 years later

That an artist announces a farewell tour is not synonymous, far from it, that he is going to retire forever. We can easily find examples of personalities who in their day announced that they would tour for the last time and that they would never set foot on stage again and, for one reason or another, did not keep their promise. However, it does not seem that this will be the case for Elton John.

At 76, he has been touring with his Farewell Yellow Brick Road for five years, his last tour. On his day, he already said that he wanted to say goodbye to his audience, faithful for half a century, on stage. And not only is he fulfilling it in spades, but it has already become a record-breaking tour: more than 300 concerts, five million spectators, almost 820 million dollars collected, and rising. A dream farewell.

Week in and week out, the Briton says goodbye to a city that has been part of his more than 50 years of musical career, and these last two nights it has been the turn of Barcelona, ​​Spain. A country where he played for the first time in March 1979, in Badalona, ​​and from which he has chosen to say goodbye at the Palau Sant Jordi with two concerts full of emotion.

The atmosphere that was breathed in the Olympic venue was very different from that of the artist's other visits. It wasn't because of the setlist, without any variation from his last concerts. Not even for the attendees, of all ages and some of them dressed up, emulating his idol. Nor was it because of the band, since he once again had his trusted musicians, faithful companions for decades. Rather, this Tuesday, the 16,000 people who filled Sant Jordi again - they already did so on Monday - knew that they were going to experience something historic: Elton John's last concert in Barcelona. That there would be no more. And it was noticed.

The sound was not the best. There were also some inaccuracies in a show that has been on tour for five years and in which everything is calculated to the millimeter. But none of that mattered to the thousands of attendees who, at 9:00 p.m. sharp, screamed when the lights in the pavilion went out to make way for the intro and, later, the first notes of Bennie and the Jets, the song chosen for start the recital and that encompasses everything: the singer's vocal power and the musician's skill at the piano. First theme and a large part of Sant Jordi was already standing.

It was followed by Philadelphia Freedom, which colored the stage and had the support of dancers through the central screen. And then came the first message from Elton John to those present. First, remembering that the concert had to be postponed twice: "We are finally here after so long, thanks for your patience." And second, highlighting the reason for his presence: “This is our last concert here. We'll make it good." No sooner said than done.

I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues, Border Song -as a clear hymn against racism and discrimination, and with a dedication to Aretha Franklin included-, Tiny Dancer and Have Mercy On The Criminal -for the first time, Elton's piano John shared the limelight with Davey Johnstone's guitar, the leader in the shadows - they didn't miss the opening bars of a concert that, after the first half hour, already had one of its most emotional moments.

The Palau Sant Jordi was left in the dark and the giant screen was the center of attention, projecting images reminiscent of a takeoff. “Three, two, one…” was heard, emulating a countdown. And many already intuited what, moments later, began to sound: Rocket Man. That song that talks about a man -an astronaut- who leaves everything to fulfill his dream -go to space- and work on what he gives him. like. Surely, Elton John feels more than identified in this letter of his inseparable Bernie Taupin.

After the first nostalgic moment of the night, the Briton, in a sequined suit with his initials embroidered on the back, opted for Take Me To The Pilot, Someone Saved My Life Tonight and Levon to once again delight those present with his ability at the piano, his harmony with his musicians and his connection with the public. And then, with an exhausted Elton John after finishing a new solo, the whole band left the stage so that the artist was left alone and began another of the great anthems of the night: Candle in the Wind. A song dedicated to Marylin Monroe - images of the model and actress were shown throughout the song - and the lyrics changed only once: it was in 1997, in memory of Lady Di, after she lost her life in a Central tunnel in Paris.

With his immense and characteristic grand piano at the other end of the stage -he moved throughout the song, to the astonishment of those present-, Elton John took the opportunity to leave the stage and change, like his musicians, but without to stop the concert: on the main screen, which was very necessary, images of some candles appeared and the stage filled with smoke to introduce the theme with which the halfway point of the concert was overcome: Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding.

Burn Down The Mission, also from the 70s -without a doubt, the most popular of the night- and which proved that despite the break the band was still in top form- did not miss the recital, just like Burn Down The Mission, which ended with the Briton's piano on fire. Of course, only through the screen, for the tranquility of those present.

The lively Sad Songs, with a previous introduction by Elton John who at the end of each song rose from his seat to interact with the public, was the prelude to Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word, a 1976 song that at the beginning of this century He sounded strong again with the version of Elton John and Blue himself; and Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, dedicated to two friends present. And the Palau Sant Jordi, transformed into a sea of ​​lights.

And then came the final blow. That section in which, even if they tried, those present could not sit down for a moment. First, to applaud some musicians of whom the British stated that "every night they sound better and they make me play and sing better". And later, to dance what came.

The Bitch Is Back was easily decipherable for its unmistakable opening with Davey Johnstone's guitar; I'm Still Standing was one of the most celebrated of the attendees, who enjoyed a review of Elton John's successful career via images, with two Oscars included; and Crocodile Rock served so that the 16,000 souls gathered in the Palau Sant Jordi were the protagonists with some more than characteristic choirs. "Song dedicated to my fans", could be read on the screen before this song sounded. And the fans, more than grateful.

The party was remarkable. Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting finished lighting and completely coloring both the Palau Sant Jordi and the stage, which was left covered in confetti. But after more than two hours of concert, one thing was clear: the recital was coming to an end. And with him, Elton John's story with Barcelona and Spain.

After the twentieth theme of the night, the artist and his musicians met at a point on the stage to take, together, the first great mass bath of the night. Then the Olympic pavilion went dark, but no one moved from their seats. There were still the encores.

Cold Heart, an acclaimed duet with Dua Lipa, who was also present in Barcelona on the giant screen, was the theme that started the last part of the recital, which followed with that song that Elton John and Bernie Taupin composed more than five decades ago. and that the British man is very clear that if it hadn't been for her, his career would have been different: Your Song.

It is a song that Elton John has played to open concerts, to close them, he even dedicated it to his mother hours after she passed away and yesterday he dedicated it to those present, recalling that this was his eleventh concert in Barcelona -the seventh in the Palau Sant Jordi- and number 45 in Spain. Thank you for so many years of love and loyalty. I will not forget you ”, he said excitedly.

And then it was time for the last song of the night and, therefore, the one that closed the Spanish story of Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Again, images of some highlights of the artist's career were shown and, once again, the Briton's piano slid across the stage again. The emotion was palpable and reached its maximum level when, once the song was finished, Elton John got up from the stool, greeted the audience and went to a kind of platform that raised him so that he could admire one last time the immensity of the Palau Sant Jordi and bid farewell to the Catalan capital in style. literally and metaphorically. Like that astronaut with whom he bears so many similarities.