The 16,000 enthusiastic faces that fill the Palau Sant Jordi are lit up by the bursts of light that the spotlights throw at every keyboard stroke by Elton John. A piano chord, dry, staccato. And another and another. It is the unmistakable opening beat of Bennie and the Jets, that famous song Goodbye yellow brick road that catapulted him as a rock star in 1973, a strange talent on the piano who, academically trained in classical music, composed with surprising ease from painful ballads to bluesy rhythmic challenges that, from that album with far west airs entitled Tumbleweed Connection, paled his Stonian majesties and his Chuck Berry aspirations.
Half a century later, that Goodbye... gives the title – easy – to his farewell tour, which has already collected 817.9 million dollars in 306 concerts and sold five million tickets. A record It is a big farewell for the illustrious Briton, favorite of the Queen, but friend of Lady Di, he has done well to search his trunk of the seventies. The rest of his career, with or without Bernie Taupin on the lyrics, has never managed to live up to that.
"Good night, Barcelona, we are happy to be here at last, after so long, but we guarantee you a fantastic show", he said after singing Philadelphia freedom, splashed with colors on the big screen, and giving way to I guess that's why they call it the blues. Yes, the pandemic had forced the postponement of part of the tour, and then that hip operation that you can see walking around the stage haranguing an audience that will be cheering him on again today.
It would be with Border song that Elton would evoke that American landing of the seventies that fell in love with the public of the United States before even the British, to the point that Aretha Franklin did her version of the song at the same time as Elton and Taupin released the single . "It was the happiest moment of my life so far." The theme was borderline, indeed, both for the spiritual airs and for the racial proclamation: "Sant Moisès, we live in peace / we fight against hatred / there is a man. What color is it, so much is / is my brother. Let us live in peace." And in the background, images of Aretha, young and old, Lady Di or a flash of Meghan and Enric's wedding...
That dark western mood would later be recovered in an apotheosis Have mercy on the criminal from the album Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player - with which the band seemed to align for the first time - and also to Levon, , from his favorite album, Captain Fantastic.
Davey Johnstone on guitar, the leader who has everything ready when Elton arrives; Nigel Olsson on drums, wearing gloves and holding back a little, and Ray Cooper with a whole percussion base, formed the historical section, the one from the glory years when together they breathed in air and breathed out pure gold. They were accompanied on bass by Matt Bissonette and another percussionist, John Mahon, the two great choristers, and keyboardist Kim Bullard, with erratic colors, but taking care of the orchestral sound on some tracks.
Pinner-born Reginald Dwight was making his final revision to his extraordinary artistic corpus. There were also Tiny dancer, a version straddling the one from 71 and that oblique refrain of Hold me closer by Britney Spears. And the colossal Candle in the wind, with video clips of Marilyn and with Elton's piano sliding across the stage.
The images, taken care of, took care of the glitter, to explain with cartoons, to put the firmament in a psychedelic Rocket man that Elton in the key of blackness or to unleash the storm in Funeral for a friend, a theme with a happy ending, the rhythmic Love lies bleeding.
Therefore, it was not a concert by a septuagenarian with a tendency to play ballads. No, at the age of 76, this sir with 300 million records sold would do the rest as if he were twenty. And in the vocal field, as if he had 50 (and some rhythmic whims). He endured and endured (145 minutes), pulled out his classic rockers from his top hat – The bitch is back , Saturday night and Crocodrile rock, which the audience happily chanted – and let out in pictures his whole life in I'm still standing. Emotion in Sorry seems to be the hardest word and the progressive Don't let the sun go down on me ... set with sketches from the autobiographical film Rocketman ... In the encores he came out in a robe with the colors of the Dodgers and Dua Lipa in video intoning pop Cold hear , followed by Your song, which made him the most famous singer-pianist of the 20th century. "It is my 306th concert of this tour, the tenth in Barcelona, a beautiful city with a magnificent audience. Thank you for your loyalty, I take you to heart. And he started Goodbye ... he disappeared down the yellow brick road from where it seems he will never return.