Full-throt­tle Sir El­ton isn’t go­ing qui­etly

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LIVE: El­ton John (Stadthalle, Vi­enna) Ver­dict: Rocket man lifts off

THERE was a mo­ment dur­ing his en­core of Your Song when El­ton John seemed to get swept away by the oc­ca­sion.

This was the open­ing night of his mam­moth Euro­pean farewell tour and he had played for 15 min­utes short of three hours. Sit­ting at his Yamaha con­cert grand, he raised a hand and ap­peared to wipe away a tear.

You could hardly blame him. It had been an emo­tional evening, packed with heart-wrench­ing piano bal­lads and joy­ous rock ’n’ roll songs from one of pop’s great­est back cat­a­logues.

El­ton, 72, is re­tir­ing from tour­ing at the end of next year, but the Rocket Man isn’t ex­it­ing the stage qui­etly. Per­form­ing in front of a 66ft-wide elec­tronic screen dubbed ‘the telly’, he told fans Wed­nes­day night’s show in Vi­enna would be his penul­ti­mate gig in the city (he also played there last night). ‘I’ve been tour­ing for 50 years,’ he con­tin­ued. ‘The most im­por­tant thing in my mu­si­cal life is play­ing to other peo­ple and get­ting a re­sponse.’

He tack­led the hits full-throt­tle. He can no longer reach the high notes on Ben­nie And The Jets, and changed some vo­cal ar­range­ments ac­cord­ingly, but he still sang beau­ti­fully. Cos­tume changes were minimal.

He mixed crowd-pleasers like Philadel­phia Free­dom, Can­dle In The Wind and I’m Still Stand­ing with lesser-known gems. Border Song was pref­aced with a story about how Aretha Franklin cov­ered the track in 1970 — ‘a real thrill for two English boys like Bernie Taupin and I’ — while In­dian Sun­set was ac­com­pa­nied by just the grand piano and stal­wart per­cus­sion­ist Ray Cooper. El­ton spoke of past ad­dic­tions — ‘I was ashamed of my­self’ — be­fore a mov­ing Be­lieve.

The Bitch Is Back launched a high-oc­tane fi­nale be­fore that en­core of Your Song and Good­bye Yel­low Brick Road.

His life story is told on screen this month in the biopic Rock­et­man. On the stage, he re­mains an in­de­fati­ga­ble show­man.

THe Farewell Yel­low Brick road tour vis­its the County Ground, Hove, on June 9 and Cardiff City Sta­dium on June 15. (el­ton­john.com).

Vi­en­nese whirl: el­ton John

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