By Chris Tuite

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — After 50 years of touring and thousands of concerts played to millions of fans around the world, Sir Elton John has decided to hang them up. It’s not for declining talent or ailing health, as he was in absolute top form when he brought his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour” to the SAP Center on Saturday for which could potentially be his final Bay Area show.  Instead, he told the crowd it was a necessary life choice.

“I’m going to be spending all my time with my kids and family.  I’m very much looking forward to it,” he remarked with a smile.

As many musicians age, the quality and ability to offer a performance of this magnitude tends to decline. Elton’s charm and musical prowess seems to have remarkably grown so much so that after a nearly two-and-a-half hour performance, he left the jam-packed arena wanting more as he hopped onto a platform and disappeared behind a sliding door after the concerts fitting conclusion, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”

His voice may have dropped an octave or two since the 1970’s which is standard for even the most classic of singers but that is with no complaint as his classics “Rocket Man,” “Tiny Dancer,” and “Your Song” are as powerful live as the day they were written.  Elton has proved to be a true professional in every sense of the word and still seems to thoroughly enjoy every concert.

Draped in a dark suit with sparkly sequins and colorful glasses, Elton started the night off with a bang, leading his band through a spirited performance of “Benny and the Jets,” as the crowd joined in an immediate singalong with many fans dancing in the aisles . The career-spanning set continued the hit parade with “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues,” “Tiny Dancer,” and “Rocket Man” before slowing it down with smash, “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” from Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, which he described as one of the albums he is most proud of.

Captain Fantastic is a concept album about a piano player trying to make it and is full of remarkable instrumentation and story telling. As he does immediately following the conclusion of many of his songs, Elton hopped out of his seat and walked around the stage with a smile while pumping his fists up in the air and screaming to fire up the crowd. The show rolled along until the first half concluded with the iconic ballad, “Candle in the Wind.”

Upon returning to the stage, Elton donned an even flashier pink outfit, hopped on his stool and as he started into “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding,” the piano began to slide along a moving contraption while dry ice and colored smoke rose from the floor and billowed into the audience.  One of the more touching moments of the night occurred a little later in the set as he stopped for a moment to dedicate the song “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” to the late Pegi Young, the Bay Area musician who passed away on New Year’s Day earlier this month.

“I received a Christmas card from her and didn’t even know she was sick,” he said.  “Bless her for all of the amazing things that she did.” Elton got to know Pegi over time during the annual Bridge School Concerts that took place for 30 years in Mountain View, where Elton performed on multiple occasions.  Pegi and Neil Young were the organizers of the event that benefited the Bridge School, an educational program that helps children with severe physical and speech impairments. Elton also mentioned a former student of the Bridge School who is now 35 years old was in attendance Saturday.

Elton and the band powered through “The Bitch is Back,” and into “Crocodile Rock” with the audience providing enthusiastic backing vocals throughout.  Colorful confetti streamed down from the ceiling during “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” and at it’s conclusion, Elton and the band came center stage for an extended bow before taking their leave. The crowd chanted for an encore and Elton obliged, starting off with one of the high points of the evening, “Your Song.”

The entire crowd was standing for the final number, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and gave Elton a raucous, echoing round of applause in appreciation for all that his music has meant to them over the years to close the show.  If the songwriter didn’t know how much his fervent fan base loves him by now, he may truly be finding out this tour.

Setlist

Bennie and the Jets
All the Girls Love Alice
I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
Border Song
Tiny Dancer
Philadelphia Freedom
Indian Sunset
Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
Take Me to the Pilot
Someone Saved My Life Tonight
Levon
Candle in the Wind
Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
Burn Down the Mission
Believe
Daniel
Sad Songs (Say So Much)
Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
The Bitch Is Back
I’m Still Standing
Crocodile Rock
Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Encore:
Your Song
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

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