Elton John’s Farewell Concert in Oakland

Exactly at 8pm, with the Oracle Arena completely buzzing…the 71 year old piano player, born as Reginald Kenneth Dwight, (from Pinner Middlesex, England,) opens the evening with a rocking “Bennie and the Jets.”

For the next two and three quarter hours, Sir Elton John and his band churned out songs one after the other, that all ages would easily recognize. For this show, he carefully chose a quality set list, chock full of his finest songs from the ’70s, the decade that was unmistakably his. He performed 24 iconic tunes in all, including, “Tiny Dancer”, “Daniel”, “Crocodile Rock”, “Dont Let the Sun Go Down on Me”, “Rocket Man”, “Burn Down the Mission”, “Saturday Nights Alright for Fighting” and ending the evening with the stunning, “Your Song” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”. The only two songs he played on this night that were not from the 70s decade were 1983s “I’m Still Standing” and 1995s “Believe.” He said to the audience, “There’s so many other songs I would like to play, but we would be here for an awfully long time,” he said. “So if I don’t play your favorite song tonight, I truly apologize.”

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In his fifty years in the music business, Elton John, has sold more than 300 million records. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998 to name only a few of the achievements he has experienced.

Elton and his band were in perfect form. They sounded superb. He chatted with the audience, introducing songs, his band, and he even touched upon the fact that he is a happy family man, with 16 years of sobriety behind him and counting. He mentioned how great its been writing with Bernie Taupin and even threw in interesting little tid bits such as, when Bernie wrote the lyrics for “Daniel,” Elton deleted the last paragraph thinking that it was too long, not realizing that in the last paragraph, it explained the whole song. Amazingly, Elton and Bernie have never written songs together in the same room. Bernie would send Elton the lyrics and Elton would put them to music. His American debut was in August of 1970 at The Troubadour in L.A. . Since then he skyrocketed up the music charts with one hit after another, owning the decade. He said that its been a wonderful life having this career that has taken him everywhere, meeting many people and having so many amazing experiences. He thanked the audience for buying his records, CDs, cassettes, 8-tracks and tickets to be there at his concerts over the past fifty years. While introducing his band he mentioned that three of the band members for this tour have even been with him throughout most of his career, some from the very beginning…such as Nigel Olson (drums), Davey Johnston (guitarist and musical director), and, Ray Cooper (percussionist). Other band members were Kim Bullard (keyboards), John Mahon (percussionist ), and Matt Bissonette (bassist). The visuals being projected on three screens behind him were filled with still photography from his lifetime of performances, as well as meaningful photos from some of the experiences he has had over his lifetime.

For me personally, having experienced 100+ of his shows, both in the UK and USA, since my first one in October 1975, at Dodger Stadium, LA. I thought Elton John’s farewell performance in Oakland was seamlessly performed and very special indeed. It was different because of his superb song choice. And the sincere heart felt gratitude he expressed to the audience was genuine, and in my opinion, it felt like a real honest goodbye, and the end of an era. The end of the Elton John Live show experience. Although he will probably continue to write and record new songs and there is word that another residency in Vegas may occur…the touring will come to an end. His song choices for this Farewell tour, were obviously very carefully chosen, as they were some of the finest songs ever written. Songs like “Your Song”, “Tiny Dancer” and “Funeral for a Friend” are tunes that have a quality about them that are hard to beat by any songwriter. When you hear an Elton song it brings back many memories. Elton John has given so many music lovers a soundtrack of a lifetime. I know for me, this is very true. I am grateful to have been able to see him live so many times, and now being a music photographer, to photograph this epic show has been deeply meaningful. This EJ show in Oakland was probably one of the best I’ve seen of his. If you have the opportunity to see one of his Farewell shows I suggest you do. You won’t be sorry you did!

Setlist:

  1. “Bennie and the Jets”
  2. “All the Girls Love Alice”
  3. “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”
  4. “Border Song”
  5. “Tiny Dancer”
  6. “Philadelphia Freedom”
  7. “Indian Sunset”
  8. “Rocket Man” 
  9. “Take Me to the Pilot”
  10. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”
  11. “Levon”
  12. “Candle in the Wind”
  13. “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”
  14. “Burn Down the Mission”
  15. “Believe”
  16. “Daniel”
  17. “Sad Songs”(Say So Much)
  18. “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”
  19. “The Bitch Is Back”
  20. “I’m Still Standing”
  21. “Crocodile Rock”
  22. “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”

Encore:

  • “Your Song”
  •  “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”