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The Dartmouth
April 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Review: Elton John demonstrates breadth of talent and successful discography at Gillette Stadium concert

On his bittersweet “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour, Elton John excels in Foxborough, MA.

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I am a sucker for a concert. If anyone notable is playing within three hours of me, I can’t help but go. I’m attracted to the energy, the lights, the live music, the food  — and my wallet hates me for it. So, when my friend texted me last minute about seeing Elton John in Foxborough, Mass. on July 27, suddenly the interview I had the next day, my upcoming midterm and my discussion post due in two hours all fell to the wayside. Nosebleed tickets were purchased and an outfit was thrown together. Piling into my beloved Subaru with four other Dartmouth students, we began the three-hour drive to Gillette Stadium. Throughout the drive, we couldn’t hold in our excitement as we listened to John’s greatest hits and made a brief Chick-fil-A stop on the way.

Despite our excitement, we ended up being late for the concert. Traffic was abysmal, Apple Maps barely got us to the concert venue and parking was a nightmare. After finding a random spot in a gym nestled behind a forest, we trekked through the woods to get to the stadium, only to miss the first song, “Bennie and the Jets.” Sprinting to the entrance of the stadium, I could hear the “B-B-B-Bennie!” which only made me run faster.

Sitting down just in time for “Philadelphia Freedom,” I let the sweet sound of Elton John carry me away. In his signature sparkly suit and sunglasses, John performed a stunning show that was an ode to his icon status and a comforting goodbye to his fans. 

After “Philadelphia Freedom” and “Bennie and the Jets,” John rounded out the introduction of the show with “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues,” “Border Song” (dedicated to Aretha Franklin) and an obvious fan favorite, “Tiny Dancer.” While every song was great — John knows how to work a piano — “Tiny Dancer” entranced the entire stadium. Swaying in time and belting our hearts out, we felt on top of the world in those few minutes. Performed in a lower register (most likely to suit John’s aging vocal cords), the song sounded phenomenal — even better in person than on the recording. John then performed “Have Mercy on the Criminal” before jumping into “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time).” 

John’s performance of “Rocket Man” was magical. His concert rendition was slightly different then the recorded version — small changes to the timing, pauses and notes with some added embellishments — which made the listening experience even more special.  As John sat at his piano in his glittery suit, he wailed his heart out to an audience of jaw-dropped listeners. Long time fans and new fans, old and young all listened and sang along to “Rocket Man,” pulled in by the power of the music. It was an unforgettable experience. 

After “Rocket Man,” the concert entered a bit of a lull —most likely my own fault, since my knowledge of John’s discography proved to be not as holistic as I had thought. In the middle section of the concert, I only knew “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” one of my favorite songs. While I may not have known the lyrics to his other songs, it was still easy to sit back and bask in John’s powerhouse voice and phenomenal band. However, I am still upset that John cut my favorite song, “Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters,” which he had included on previous set lists from the tour. 

To end the concert, John kicked it back into high gear. With a costume change and revived energy, he brought a remarkable amount of energy to his performance. With a powerful rendition of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” John flawlessly covered George Michael’s parts from the Live Aid version I am familiar with. “The Bitch Is Back” followed, spurring the crowd out of their seats through “I’m Still Standing,” which immediately followed. From here, it was hit after hit. “Crocodile Rock” and “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” had me jumping around and screaming my heart out, even though it was a Wednesday night. While satisfied with what I had heard, I knew the concert wouldn’t end without an encore. Finishing the concert with an encore of “Cold Heart,” “Your Song” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” fans went home happy. Ending his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour with “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” was not a shock — it would have been foolish to end with anything else — but it was an emotional moment as John said goodbye to his fans, and we said goodbye to him as well.

Elton John’s “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour was undoubtedly bittersweet, and his fans are not ready to say goodbye to his live performances just yet. The concert was amazing, and I consider myself lucky to have seen him live. All throughout the concert, John was energetic, engaged and seemed refreshed. He interacted with the crowd, never missed a note and owned that stage. The set list highlighted his skills and was a walk down memory lane, acting as a tribute to his lengthy and iconic career. The concert demonstrated the breadth of John’s talent and was a beautiful addition to his long list of stellar performances.

Rating: ★★★★☆