Elton John took the first steps down his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour when he kicked it off Saturday night at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, an hour outside of Philadelphia.
Elton was in strong voice and his longtime band in top form as he allowed them to stretch out on “Rocket Man” and “Levon,” with bandleader and guitarist Davey Johnstone tossing the riff from The Beatles’ “Day Tripper” into his solo.
No surprise that 19 of the 24 songs were hits, but he did work in a handful of lesser-played songs over the years. They were: “All the Girls Love Alice”; “Border Song,” which he dedicated to Aretha Franklin -- who covered it shortly after its release in 1970; “Burn Down the Mission”; “Believe,” which he said he chose because it said everything he feels about love”; and, from Madman Across the Water, with just Ray Cooper accompanying him on percussion, “Indian Sunset.” Elton said when he read Bernie Taupin’s lyrics for "Sunset" he wondered how what he viewed in his mind as a two-and-a-half-hour movie could be turned into a song. Taupin was in the audience, watching the show from the soundboard.
Three-quarters of the way through, Elton explained that he was saying goodbye to the road in order to spend more time with his children – Zacharyand Elijah. The audience gave him a standing ovation, which made him emotional.
“Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” brought the set to a close, allowing Elton to make his third wardrobe change, this time to a robe for the encore. Taking his seat behind the piano, he broke into “Your Song.” When finished, he said that was the song that started his journey, and then went into the one that he said closes it, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” -- which he dedicated to his kids, who are back home in England, and husband David Furnish, who watched the show from the 12th row.
After playing “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” Elton stood up and removed his robe, which revealed an updated version of the track suit he wore on the cover of the 1973 Yellow Brick album. He then stepped into a basket that carried him into the video screen. The screen then revealed a video of him walking down the yellow brick road.
After the show, Elton took to social media to say, "What a start to the Farewell Tour! The beautiful audience, my Rocket Entertainment crew, my tireless tour team, the visionaries at Gucci (for his wardrobe)… so many talented people made this such a special first show and this is just the beginning!"