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HomeEntertainmentThe solar goes down on Elton John at Dodger Stadium

The solar goes down on Elton John at Dodger Stadium

Elton John had already worn two totally different bedazzled fits — the primary one made him appear like a lion tamer, the second a wonderful cupboard secretary — by the point he reached the encore of his live performance Thursday night time at Dodger Stadium. But as one in every of music’s best residing showmen, the 75-year-old pop legend knew his viewers was ready to see one explicit outfit. So when he ambled again onstage just some minutes after having ripped by means of “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” he did it in a glittering white-and-blue Dodgers bathrobe with matching ball cap and glasses — a callback, in fact, to the long-lasting sequined Dodgers uniform he poured himself into whereas performing on the identical spot in 1975.

Back then John was cementing his standing because the starriest of superstars with two reveals he rightfully described in his 2019 memoir as “a complete triumph.” On Thursday, practically half a century later, he was kicking off a three-night stand at Dodger Stadium that he says will function his last American gigs as he approaches the top of a globe-circling farewell tour. “Tonight is the 269th show on the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour,” he instructed the gang, including that it was his one hundred and first present within the Los Angeles space and his fifth time taking part in Dodger Stadium. (Sunday’s finale might be livestreamed on Disney+ and can function particular visitors together with Dua Lipa, Brandi Carlile and the singer’s previous pal Kiki Dee.)

Much has occurred since John launched the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour — so named after the smash 1973 double LP with which it virtually shares a title — 4 years in the past in 2018. For one factor, COVID disrupted his rigorously plotted highway plans, which is why the present will head to Australia and Europe subsequent yr earlier than lastly wrapping for good (after having turn out to be the third-highest-grossing tour in historical past, with ticket gross sales of greater than $600 million). More fortunately, John noticed his life dramatized on the large display in 2019’s splashy “Rocketman” biopic and hit the highest 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 for the primary time for the reason that late ’90s along with his modern Dua Lipa duet, “Cold Heart.” This previous summer time he charted even increased with one other shrewdly conceived collaboration, “Hold Me Closer,” which has him and Britney Spears mashing up a number of of his oldies together with the deathless “Tiny Dancer.”

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Taking within the sight of hundreds of followers dressed Thursday in tinted specs and feather boas — to not point out an formidable few in sparkly full-body replicas of John’s Dodgers uniform — you couldn’t assist however take into consideration the essential groundwork he laid for peacocking pop stars similar to Harry Styles and Bad Bunny.

Yet for all of the legacy-burnishing of the previous few years, this 2½-hour present was much less about mythology than about music: Leading a rock-solid six-piece band stuffed with guys he’s been taking part in with for many years (together with drummer Nigel Olsson, percussionist Ray Cooper and guitarist Davey Johnstone), John carried out practically two dozen of his best-known tunes like a person who nonetheless will get a kick out of plopping down behind a piano and letting it rip.

He took lengthy, florid solos in “Rocket Man” and “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” and bashed out funky barrelhouse grooves in “Take Me to the Pilot” and “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues.” He performed with tempo in “Bennie and the Jets,” stretching out the adverse area within the tune’s swaggering glam-R&B beat, and tweaked the shapely melody of “Tiny Dancer,” clearly taking pleasure in toying with an viewers in full sing-along mode. He let his musicians get their jollies too, making room for Johnstone to peel off a sequence of scorching licks in “Have Mercy on the Criminal” and directing the gang’s consideration to Cooper’s climactic second on the tympani drums in “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.”

Elton John at Dodger Stadium.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

John’s strong vocals are most likely the strongest of anybody from his era nonetheless on the market taking part in reveals; he may very well be playful and growly, as in “Philadelphia Freedom,” or lushly sentimental, as in “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” which he devoted to a number of the bandmates he’s misplaced through the years. Occasionally he’d alter a skyscraping melody to higher swimsuit a variety that’s lowered as he’s gotten older. But then he’d come again within the subsequent tune and nail the excessive be aware everybody was listening to of their heads, as in a stirring tackle “Levon.”

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Lots of heritage acts with catalogs the scale of John’s — Paul McCartney, say — will shorten a few of their tunes in live performance to make room on the set checklist for extra; John did the alternative, forsaking the medley method to tack on a rowdy New Orleans-style coda to “Rocket Man” and ending “Burn Down the Mission” with a foot-stomping gospel breakdown. He was letting the songs breathe, and why not? As he moved from the soulful “Border Song” to the driving “Sad Songs (Say So Much)” to the powerful and glittery “The Bitch Is Back,” you needed to marvel on the intricate constructions he’d devised for Bernie Taupin’s lyrics — the flowery buildings, the false endings, the little entice doorways that drop you into what seems like a completely new tune till you sense a second earlier than he alters course that, nope, he’s nonetheless singing “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding.”

Put it this fashion: I can’t bear in mind the final time I used to be thus far contained in the music at a stadium present {that a} confetti blast truly stunned me, because it did right here on the finish of that rollicking “Saturday Night.” Once John got here again out in that shimmering bathrobe — the Vegas-tasteful stage set resembled nothing a lot as a Cheesecake Factory, by the best way — he did “Cold Heart,” then bragged for a second about its chart success earlier than singing “Your Song,” which he identified had been his first hit greater than 50 years earlier. (Hey, an icon’s work is rarely executed.) But John closed by introducing — what else? — “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” with a heartfelt due to his followers for purchasing his data and dressing up at his reveals and customarily conserving him in enterprise for thus lengthy.

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“I love to play live, and I love to see your faces,” he mentioned, and he sounded ready to surrender solely a kind of issues.

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