- 30 Mar 23
Taking place over three years after its original scheduled date, Elton John delivers an unforgettable night for his overjoyed Irish fans.
You know you're in for a good night going to an Elton John concert. Between the extravagant costumes, eye-popping set designs and a setlist of back to back bonafide global hits, your coveted ticket ensures a night of non-stop entertainment. But knowing all of this can't quite prepare you for the emotion and energy that Elton John puts into his performance, and the wave of love and affection reciprocated by his audience. Turning 76 last week, it's clear Elton John remains an inimitable performer, full of heart and soul.
Kicking off his jam-packed set with the 1973 classic 'Bennie and The Jets' the celebratory tone is set for the evening. Receiving his first of over a dozen standing ovations of the night, Elton John is visibly energised by the rapturous reception to his opening song. Behind him on a split level platform is his six piece band including core band members Nigel Olsson and Davey Johnstone who have played with Elton throughout his career. Elton John gives heartfelt introductions to each of his band members.
"Nigel was playing drums and singing with me 53 years, actually 54 years ago! He's still here because there's no one better on drums and vocals than Nigel Olsson," he says.
Olsson is dressed immaculately. Donning a pair of snow white cloth gloves, he looks every inch the lifelong bandmate of international megastar. Elton, of course, is dressed in a black dress coat with multi-coloured sequins covering his lapels and tails. Wearing his oversized red-framed shades he seems to have remained the same age for the past 30 years. There's plenty of sequins and bright colours dotted throughout the audience too. There's a real sense of ceremony in the air for his last ever Dublin shows. Elton John and his band are soaking up every minute of it.
He goes on to introduce his Edinburgh band leader, Davey Johnstone, who played acoustic guitar on 1971's Madman Across The Water.
"He was an amazing folk musician in a band called Magna Carta... but I wanted him to play electric guitar so he came to this château in France where we recorded Honky Château, which is fifty years old this week! He picked up an electric guitar for the first time and he's never looked back. He's my bandleader that gets everyone together in Los Angeles and rehearses them, so that I have very little work to do when I swan over. I'm so grateful to him for that, he saves me so much work," he says with a smile.
Grinning from ear-to -ear, percussionist Ray Cooper is the coolest of them all. Harry Nilsson, Billy Joel, George Harrison, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, you name it, Cooper has worked and toured with them all.
"Someone who's been in and out of the band since 1973, he's one of the most incredible musicians I've ever met, one of the most interesting people that I've ever met," Elton John continues. "In 1979 he and I went around the world, just the two of us, and we played 120 shows which was so much fun and so musically inspiring for me. I needed to do that at that time in my career so I'm so grateful to him."
They may all be pushing on in years but these musicians are the best of the best. Cutting their teeth in the 1960s and 1970s, when 200+ gigs a year was par for the course, the likes of these rock n rollers, sadly, won't ever be seen again. Music icons like Elton John, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon and John Fogerty to some, have become almost caricatures of themselves. We take them for granted because they've been around for so long, surviving the mental toll of fame and being on the road and the excesses of drugs and alcohol that so many of their contemporaries succumbed to. For this, we should cherish them all the more.
Such a privilege to see #eltonjohn #eltonfarewelltour final Dublin show last night at @3arenadublin. What was supposed to be my then 10yr old's first concert in 2020 was delayed until now due to covid but 100% worth the wait! 😍 #legend pic.twitter.com/uviuezIjg0
— Dr. Cara Augustenborg (@CAugustenborg) March 30, 2023
But tonight there's an abundance of respect and adoration for Pinner's most celebrated son. The set design is just brilliant. The decadent kidney-shaped stage is wrapped with a neon lit thick frame that extends up to a huge display screen directly above the band. There's plenty of humour in the show too. Throughout his performance of 'I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues' there's a display of old photos taken in England over the past 50 years - an old man sunning himself on a wooden deck chair in Brighton, that sort of thing.
'Tiny Dancer' and 'Rocket Man' are highlights of the night and are both met by deafening cheers and more standing ovations.
Elton John delivers a powerful performance of 'Candle in the Wind' accompanied by a film homage to his hero, Marilyn Monroe. Throughout the show, Elton John sits at a magnificent, black Yamaha grand piano that at one point starts to mechanically move from one side of the stage to the other, while Elton plays on. There's a young man a few rows in front of me who's completely enraptured by Elton's piano playing on 'Burn Down the Mission.' He can't help but gesticulate along to each note he plays.
Elton John goes on to dedicate 'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me' to U2. "I want to dedicate this song to the boys in U2. They're such great friends of mine and they've been so kind to me throughout my career," he says. "I love them very, very much. They're like family to me - Adam is here, I think!"
A song that gains more and more meaning as the years roll by, Elton John and his band deliver a rip roaring performance of 'I'm Still Standing', while a montage of his career highlights plays on the giant screen.
He concludes the set with an electrifying performance of 'Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting' as confetti pours from the ceiling of the 3 Arena. Elton John returns to the stage for a three song encore featuring his recent global hit 'Cold Heart', 'Your Song' and finally bids us adieu with 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road'.
Dublin certainly showed its love for Elton tonight. All goodbyes should be this fun.
— Shiv Kelly (@shivkelli) March 29, 2023