Surrounded by emotional fans from around the globe, Elton John hailed them as his “lifeblood” as he gave his final farewell concert in Stockholm after more than 50 years of live performances.
“You know how much I like to play live. It’s been my lifeblood to play for you guys, and you’ve been absolutely magnificent,” he told the delighted audience at the arena in the Swedish capital.
Wearing a tailcoat accented with rhinestones and a red pair of his trademark large glasses, the 76-year-old pop superstar sat down at the piano shortly after 8:00 pm to cheers to open his farewell show with one of his most popular songs, “Bennie and the Jets.”
He then continued with “Philadelphia Freedom” and “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” to a rapt audience, many of whom were wearing sparkling blue or red glasses.
Playing for more than two hours, John interspersed the songs with moments when he would get up and leave the piano to thank not only his fans but also his band and his crew, some of whom have been with him for more than 40 years.
“I want to pay tribute to these musicians... They’re really incredible, they’ve been with me so long, some of them. And they are the best, I tell you, the best,” he said.
Shortly after a rendition of “Border Song” which he dedicated to Aretha Franklin, John’s “I’m Still Standing” brought the 30,000 fans at the Tele2 Arena to their feet.
Before he took his encore, John screened a message from Cold play, who were playing in the western Swedish city of Gothenburg, in which singer Chris Martin thanked him for his career and commitment.
“It was amazing. I have no words right now because I haven’t processed all the show, but it was amazing,” said Anton Pohjonen, a 25-year-old bank worker from Finland.
“You almost start tearing up on his account. But then it feels great to be here,” added Swedish teacher Conny Johansson, who bought tickets for the show four years ago.
Excited fans were looking forward to an emotional end to the superstar’s glittering live career even before the curtain went up.
“It’s going to be very emotional tonight,” said Kate Bugaj, 25, a Polish student who admitted she had delayed her Master’s exams to follow her musical hero’s tour.
Describing herself as a “huge fan”, she said it all began the first time she watched “The Lion King”, the 1994 Walt Disney film which gave John one of his two Oscar music wins.
Fifty-year-old Jeanie Kincer traveled from Kentucky in the United States for the show.
“I wanted to be here for the end because I was too young to be here in the beginning,” she said.
To mark the occasion, she was dressed in red shorts with braces and a red, yellow and brown T-shirt -- almost the exact same outfit John wore for his first concert in Stockholm in 1971.
Sweden’s daily Expressen called the final show “an important chapter in the history of rock ‘n’ roll which is about to end”.
The star has been winding down his decades-long live career with a global farewell tour.
He played his last concerts in the United States in May and brought the curtain down on Britain’s annual Glastonbury Festival last month.
Saturday’s farewell concert was the second consecutive evening the Stockholm stadium hosted the legendary British singer-songwriter for the last leg of his final tour, which began five years ago and was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and a hip operation in 2021.
On his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour, John will have given 330 concerts, crisscrossing Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada and Britain, before closing in Stockholm.
Overall, the tour has seen him perform in front of 6.25 million fans.— AFP