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Elton John’s “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” Tour – A Ranking
December 2, 2022
On November 20, 2022, musical icon Elton John performed his last show in North America at the Dodgers Stadium, Los Angeles. Those of us who were unable to see John off on his yellow brick road had the privilege of viewing the concert via a livestream on Disney+.
— Disney+ (@DisneyPlus) November 21, 2022
Sure, I was a little put off by the disclaimer saying “some sections previously recorded,” but beggars can’t be choosers. I’ll take it.
Before the show, messages from celebrities appeared, including, but not limited to Quincy Jones, Coldplay, Lizzo, Lionel Richie, Lil Nas X, JoJo Siwa, Bette Midler, Prince Harry and Meghan, and the one and only Taron Egerton, who played the Rocketman himself in the movie of the same name.
As a huge Elton John fan myself, I have had the privilege of seeing him live 3 times, now 4 if you count the livestream. In celebration of my favorite 75 year old man finishing off his tour, I’m ranking the songs as played. This isn’t necessarily a ranking of the songs, just a ranking of the performance tonight!
(Disclaimer: I love all of these songs. It was quite hard to rank them.)
- Philadelphia Freedom / Song 2/24
Favorite Lyric: ‘Cause I live and breathe this Philadelphia freedom
Not necessarily my favorite, but it keeps a happy mood up after Bennie and the Jets. It’s a nice, upbeat song that is oddly patriotic, considering John’s British nationality.
- Take Me to the Pilot / Song 8/24
Favorite Lyric: Through a glass eye, your throne / Is the one danger zone
A good song, and it’s nice and happy as well. Its placement after “Rocket Man” makes sense considering the similar aerospace themes.
- Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word / Song 15/24
Favorite Lyric: What do I do when lightning strikes me? / And I wake to find that you’re not there
A sadder song, but it’s still great. The most memorable part I think has to be after the song is over–not that it’s bad, but because the band gets introduced. Many of the band members have been playing with him for years, and get a big round of applause here. Behind every great star is a team!
- Someone Saved My Life Tonight / Song 9/24
Favorite Lyric: Altar-bound, hypnotized, sweet freedom whispered in my ear / You’re a butterfly, and butterflies are free to fly
I love this song, and I love Captain Fantastic. Reminds me a bit of Ziggy Stardust. A video is played featuring Captain Fantastic while the video is played, and you can tell John is having fun with the song as well. It’s a more mellow song, but fantastic nonetheless.
- I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues / Song 3/24
Favorite Lyric: Time on my hands could be time spent with you
A lovely song, I love the harmonica. One of my favorites. However, during the livestreamed portion, they kept showing clips of this one couple that was getting engaged live. Congrats to the happy couple, but I’d prefer to be watching Elton and the band than a couple, since that’s what I turned on the livestream for. Also, just my personal opinion, but I’d save my proposal for “Your Song.” Just like in the livestream, a proposal took over my review like it did the song. Again, congrats! It’s such a great song.
- Border Song / Song 4/24
Favorite Lyric: Let us strive to find a way to make all hatred cease
Before the song starts, John tells us this sweet story about the song and Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. He dedicates the performance to her, and as it is played we get a nice montage of people and a picture of him and Franklin at the end.
- Candle in the Wind / Song 11/24
Favorite Lyric: Your candle burned out long before / Your legend ever did
A touching tribute to Marilyn Monroe. The song is about her life, fame, and how she left us too soon. It’s a lovely song, but I can’t help but think about “5000 Candles in the Wind” from Parks and Recreation when I hear it.
- Have Mercy on the Criminal / Song 6/24
Favorite Lyric: Are you blind to the winds of change? / Don’t you hear him any more?
It has more of a gothic vibe to it than other songs of his. Lots of guitar. Plenty of religious references and symbolism, as well. A completely different vibe than the others played so far!
- Levon / Song 10/24
Favorite Lyric: Jesus blows up balloons all day / Sits on the porch swing, watchin’ them fly
The song catalogs the life story of Levon Tostig, with his father Alvin and song Jesus. Levon was born poor and worked hard to be prosperous so his son Jesus can have a good life, but it seems that Jesus doesn’t want to follow the plan that his father Levon has laid out for him. Though Levon is said to have been born on Christmas Day, the song’s 51st anniversary is tomorrow, November 29, at the time I’m writing this. Happy early birthday, Levon!
The instrumental near the end too? Absolute perfection.
- Burn Down the Mission / Song 13/24
Favorite Lyric: Behind four walls of stone the rich man sleeps / It’s time we put the flame torch to their keep
I love this song. An energetic but not too energetic song that I think everyone loves.
- Tiny Dancer / Song 5/24
Favorite Lyric: Only you, and you can hear me / When I say softly, slowly
The arena is quiet. The second the fingers hit the piano, the crowd goes wild. That song is recognizable anywhere. I think everyone was satisfied with that performance. No words, it was a spectacular performance.
- Sad Songs (Say So Much) / Song 14/24
Favorite Lyric: When all hope is gone (ooh) / Sad songs say so much
Despite its title, “Sad Songs” isn’t a very sad song at all. In fact, John tells the audience to get ready to dance before playing the song. It’s a cheerful song about playing sad music to let go of your worries and sadness. And there’s Taron Egerton in the audience!
- Rocket Man / Song 7/24
Favorite Lyric: I’m not the man they think I am at home / Oh, no, no, no / I’m a rocket man
What I said about Tiny Dancer above? The same effect was replicated for Rocket Man. Almost. People were chattering excitedly in the space-themed prelude before the actual song started. Upon the sung “she,” the crowd cheered. The guitarist, Davey Johnstone, also changed out his guitar, now it’s a big white one with two stems/arms (I’m not sure what the musically-accurate term is).
Another unforgettable hit, and I think everyone in the crowd can agree.
- Funeral For a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding / Song 12/24
Favorite Lyric: You’re a bluebird on a telegraph line, I hope you’re happy now
A very cool song, starts off epic and ends epic. The epic piano and other instruments combined make it seem like a very cool, rock funeral. Guitarist Johnstone has also switched out his guitar again, it now has the cover for “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” on it. Sweet guitar, and everyone in the audience is jumping around excited.
- Bennie and the Jets / Song 1/24
Favorite Lyric: She’s got electric boots, a mohair suit / You know I read it in a magazine, oh
A classic. It starts off with just a few notes to keep you in anticipation, and catchy enough that you catch yourself thinking about it later. “Bennie and the Jets” is a favorite and the best choice for an opener.
- Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me / Song 16/24
Favorite Lyric: I’m growin’ tired, and time stands still before me /Frozen here on the ladder of my life
One of the greatest songs as well. John dedicates the performance to all of his former band members he’s lost. And there’s Brandi Carlile! She comes out and joins him for the performance. It’s a nice surprise for his final concert, and they seem to be pretty good friends! They perform well together.
- Crocodile Rock / Song 20/24
Favorite Lyric: Oh, lawdy mama, those Friday nights / When Susie wore her dresses tight
“This song is dedicated to MY FANS!!” says the board. The cameras showed people jumping around immediately, understandably. Despite being “pop fluff,” (his words, not mine), “Crocodile Rock” is a classic and fan favorite. Everyone can participate, no matter the age. All you have to do is go “LAA, LALALALALA LAA!!”
Seriously, the people are going wild in the audience. And there’s a gal with a fake crocodile mask on, breaking it down.
- Don’t Go Breaking My Heart / Song 19/24
Favorite Lyric: When I was down / I was your clown
It feels weird to see John not at the piano, and instead singing next to Kiki Dee. This song is one of the best, and tied for 1st on my personal favorites list. A sweet love song that gets better every listen. The roblox avatars floating around in hearts in the background video is a nice touch. And yes, that is in fact the Duolingo Owl at 2:21:06. I was also surprised at that.
Oh, and there’s that couple again!
- Cold Heart / Song 22/24
Favorite Lyric: It’s a human sign / When things go wrong
Less than 2 minutes after the bow, Sir Elton John returns to begin the encore. He’s wearing an outfit that references the iconic costume he wore at his first ever Dodger Stadium performance. And Dua Lipa comes out!! This song helped popularize John among the kiddos of this generation. It’s a combination of “Sacrifice,” “Rocket Man,” “Kiss the Bride”, and “Where’s the Shoorah?”.
An anecdote that sticks out to me is this summer, when I volunteered at a summer camp and wore an Elton John shirt one day. This little girl of about 5 comes up and asks me who the “pretty lady” on my shirt is. I tell her it’s Elton John, she looks confused, so I tell her it’s the “Rocketman.” She looks like she’s thinking about it, and a second later says, “Oh, that’s the dude who sang with Dua Lipa!” That interaction is all I can think about when I hear “Cold Heart.”
May his music live on with the younger generation.
- The B**ch is Back / Song 17/24
Favorite Lyric: Eat meat on Friday, that’s alright / I even like steak on a Saturday night
This is a school newspaper, so I have to censor the title of the song. Other than that, it’s a great song! A fan favorite that’s full of energy. I love it too, and the arena seemed to get pretty excited when it played.
- Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting / Song 21/24
Favorite Lyric: I’m a juvenile product of the working class / Whose best friend floats in the bottom of a glass
Another favorite, and both the audience and John are giving it their all. But you can tell the fans don’t want the concert to end. More movie footage is shown on the big screen, and the people seem to love violence, as they start cheering louder when Taron Egerton is slamming the piano top thing (again, I don’t know the actual term) on someone’s head. And there’s some golden confetti!! The people cheer louder for the confetti. And even louder for the subsequent fireworks! Everyone is into it, though I wish there were less action shots of the stadium. Fantastic ending for the main portion, and now we get to see the encore!!! You can tell they’re excited for it too, seeing how everyone clears the stage so quickly.
- Your Song / Song 23/24
Favorite Lyric: I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind / That I put down in words / How wonderful life is while you’re in the world
The most iconic song in his discography. Who DOESN’T know “Your Song”?
One of the best songs ever made. It’s perfect, and the audience remains in reverent silence as they listen. Not much I can say, because it’s just…that. Perfection.
Shortly after finishing the song, he gives a little speech, and that it’s the 103rd show he’s performed in Los Angeles, the 271st show overall on the tour. Next in the special guest list to come out is Bernie Taupin. He’s not a singer, but he’s responsible for all the lyrics to the songs played. They’re also best friends!! Next, his husband, David, and 2 sons, Zachary and Elijah, come out next, though only for a brief minute.
- I’m Still Standing / Song 18/24
Favorite Lyric: And did you think this fool could never win? / Well look at me, I’m a-comin’ back again
I think it’s safe to say that this is the national anthem of Elton John fans (Other than Crocodile Rock). Popular due to its lyrics of determination and upbeat track, and was popularized among the kiddos in recent years thanks to the animated movie Sing (also starring Taron Egerton! Who sings this song in it, conveniently…)
Performance wise, it’s one of the best as well. The backing video is also quite phenomenal, and while not all of it is shown in the livestream, I remember from seeing it live that it was a compilation of pretty much every piece of media he’s been referenced in, and his own achievements. The Simpsons, his AIDS foundation, book, and of course The Lion King to name a few, appear. My personal favorite few-seconds of a guest appearance is none other than the stars of Gnomeo & Juliet, a cinematic masterpiece that parodies the famed story of Romeo & Juliet, along with other Shakespearean works that are referenced throughout the movie, and John was the executive producer of the movie.
- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road / Song 24/24
Favorite Lyric: Oh, I’ve finally decided my future lies / Beyond the yellow brick road
This song is literal perfection. Everything about it… ethereal. Perfect. Amazing. Show-stopping. I may be a bit biased, considering it is one of my favorite songs of John’s, but can you blame me? It’s fantastic and never gets old. I’ve heard other fans say they don’t like the lower key and prefer the original recording, but I think the lower-key fits perfectly. The lyrics, the audience in harmony, it’s perfect. The song was played as part of the resolution in the Rocketman film, and is the ending song for the tour, which is partially named after the song. I love everything about it, and it is only fitting that it is the #1 on my ranking, for it’s the number one in my heart.
Overall, the concert is a 100/10. If you haven’t seen the concert yet on Disney+, I highly recommend you grab some friends to watch it together, thank me later. A perfect setlist, and it ends with the man himself going through a hole in the wall where we get to see him go beyond the yellow brick road. A perfect sendoff.
Farewell, Elton John, and thank you.
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