During the final run of his career, the iconic Elton John brought his Goodbye Yellow Brick Road tour to Anfield for the first and final time.
The shape of the Anfield Stadium bookings in 2022, compared to the debut year, is a tremendous difference. It’s not very often that the likes of Elton John, the Eagles and especially, The Rolling Stones come into town, and we’re hoping that Anfield‘s legendary run of shows continues.
Tonight however, it’s Elton John, the utterly iconic piano man currently embarking on his Goodbye Yellow Brick Road tour, the final run of his career, and with Arena shows planned for next April, and this evening, stopping at Anfield Stadium for the first and final time.
Anfield looks larger than life, like the typical Champions League night, showing that gigs here are more than viable. Shortly after the mark of 7pm, the sounds of John‘s “Pinball Wizard” cover ring out, as John himself arrives on-stage promptly to his piano, to bounce out the opening notes, with breathing room between, of “Bennie and the Jets“.
The perfect opening number, followed by “Philadelphia Freedom“, a song that very rarely misses the set. For those in the Kop, and the sides, you never sit down, as he leans into “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues“.
For the first time in the evening, Sir Elton converses with the crowd, about the honour of playing here, before discussing Aretha Franklin, a hero of his and an early cover artist of John, before dedicated the next song, “Border Song” to her.
He follows with the classic “Tiny Dancer“, for the sing-a-long, and backs it with the Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player deep-cut “Have Mercy on the Criminal“. While the obvious cut leads portions of the crowd to dip, as normal with artists like this, it’s a brilliant piece to play and shows John‘s brilliance, with the percussion and “drum-shot” sections.
In-creating a setlist for this tour, the band have been able to lead the slower, maybe lesser known songs, with iconic pieces of the catalogue, in this case, the stadium rocks with the sound of a rocket blasting off before we slide ever-so-perfectly into “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)”.
It’s a fabulous performance, with the extended outro has the whole band bleeding into one another’s sound, and John‘s piano in the front.
“Take Me to the Pilot“, one of John‘s personal favourites “Someone Saved My Life Last Night“, and “Levon” all walk next. The crowd’s eyes light back-up as scenes of Marilyn Monroe come alive on the screens, as we enter “Candle in the Wind“. The more reserved section continues, showcasing John‘s incomparable ballad songwriting (and of course, Bernie Taupin‘s), with the duo of “Funeral for a Friend“/”Love Lies Bleeding“, “Burn Down the Mission“, and “Sad Songs (Say So Much)“.
Before heading into more, John takes the time to tell the crowd the honour of playing Anfield, and shouts out the olympians in attendance, before specifically thanking footballing icon Kenny Daglish, as the crowd applauds towards his box. It’s a lovely moment, one you’d only get here. The next song, “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me” is dedicated to him and his family.
The run-down begins with “The Bitch is Back“, as Elton‘s band is more energetic the later they go, it’s remarkable. “I’m Still Standing” features the life of Elton around the screens, allowing fans to spot the moment they feel in love for the piano man.
Finally, the finale duo of “Crocodile Rock” and “Saturday’s Alright for Fighting“, before they leave the stage.
If it ended now, you couldn’t complain. The ability to pull out hit-afted-hit is something not many can do. Although, Anfield knows that this isn’t it.
Elton returns to the stage, alone, and leads Anfield into a sing-a-long of his latest hit, the virtual duet of “Cold Heart“. Having a No. 1 at the age of 75 isn’t something that many artists can think of, but it continues to show his sheer value as an artist.
He backs-up his latest hit, with his first, in a lovely way, as “Your Song” is played. For the final time, John addresses the crowd with a thank you and a goodbye.
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road“, as predictable, is our closer, capping off not only a wonderful Anfield night that will be unforgettable for all, but capping off a sight we’ll not see again, Sir Elton John at Anfield Stadium.
Words by Jack Cinnamond. Images courtesy of Ben Gibson.