Sir Elton John, one of the world’s brightest stars, set Miami ablaze for the last time on April 28. Pairing clips from younger years with live performances of his most iconic songs, the show sent the audience into a state of wistful reminiscence, as they said goodbye to one of the greatest artists of all time.
The elaborate stage design immediately caught the eye, with a copper-colored border speckled with images of John’s personal landmarks. His famous glasses, a grand piano, the “Lion King” symbol, among many others, surrounded the stage – a sort of monument to his life.
In addition to this intricate frame around the stage, the stage itself split into two levels, with John and most of his band on the lower level, and his mixed percussionist, Ray Cooper, on the upper level. Percussion instruments are usually hidden behind the rest of the band, so elevating and spotlighting Cooper was a unique, heart-warming decision.
“Why heart-warming?” you may ask. When John introduced his band members, he noted that he’s performed with Cooper on and off since 1971. So, through stage design, John gave one of his closest friends visual recognition.
He’s also performed with guitarist Davey Johnstone since 1971 and drummer Nigel Olsson since 1969. Elton John expressed profound appreciation for his band members, especially these three.
While he’s not as young as he used to be, John gave a spectacular performance. He did shy away from the falsetto in iconic tunes such as “Rocketman” and “Tiny Dancer,” but his piano playing was just as youthful and dazzling as ever. And, he stayed on the piano for every single song, so the audience was blessed with two and a half hours of auditory bliss.
Obviously, because of their extensive experience, the entire band was outstanding. I would, however, be remiss if I didn’t mention my complete awe when I saw Davey Johnstone whip out his double-necked guitar. This instrument is one of the most difficult to play, and only the best musicians in the world conquer it.
He simulated the sound of shooting stars during a 10 minute instrumental break of “Rocketman,” at which point the audience simply stared, star-struck (pun intended). His mastery of the double-necked guitar puts him among the ranks of Jimmy Page and Rick Nielsen, two of the most talented musicians of all time.
During the final song, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” a montage of John’s performances dating to the start of his career played behind the living legend. This collage of his most cherished moments brought several audience members around me to tears, as it finally hit them that this was goodbye.
Then after a bittersweet bow to his undying fans, John stepped onto a platform and was raised into the screen behind the stage, which changed to a twinkling night sky. John ascended, symbolically leaving his days of performance behind, and moving into a more family oriented life.
He does, however, have over 100 more stops on his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” Tour, so he’s not done quite yet. This show reminded me why he is so famous and so beloved. His talent, his charisma, his love for the fans, and his unabashed individuality have captured our hearts, making it so terribly painful to say “Farewell.”