Elton John bids farewell to Pittsburgh in final Steel City performance (2023)

It seems we’ve been down this Yellow Brick Road before.

Elton John brought his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road: The Final Tour” to PNC Park in Pittsburgh on Friday night.

“It’s our last time in Pennsylvania, so we’ve got to make it extra special,” John said.

He certainly did.

John didn’t need to win over his exuberant fans but, perhaps in an effort to do that, he came onto the stage at 8:05 p.m. wearing a black-and-gold outfit, a black frock coat with “E.J.” embroidered on the back and pink lapels and black pants trimmed with gold sequins.

Of course, John wore his trademark oversized glasses — pink lenses with rhinestones dotting the pink frames and a silver earring in his right ear.

As good as they looked, John and company sounded even better. John began the show with a funky, high-energy version of “Bennie and the Jets,” featuring extra fancy piano flourishes that had the fans hooting and hollering.

The song set the tone for the evening. The front-row fans never sat down while John never took his foot off the gas, bringing high energy and strong, wide-ranging vocals to the performance along with his usual pristine piano playing.

Elton John opens with "Benny and the Jets" at PNC Park in Pittsburgh Friday night. pic.twitter.com/ZaKZEWx2dM

— Paul Guggenheimer (@PGuggenheimer) September 17, 2022

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Next up was “Philadelphia Freedom,” the song he wrote for his friend, tennis star Billie Jean King. At the time he wrote it, she was playing for the Philadelphia Freedoms of World Team Tennis. (In case you forgot, Pittsburgh’s team was called the Triangles.)

There was plenty of reminiscing to go along with the songs, as John set quite a few of them up with heartfelt remembrances. He introduced “Border Song” by talking about how much Aretha Frankin’s cover version meant to him and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin as they struggled in their early days.

“You can imagine how Bernie and I felt being two young kids from Britain and having Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, recording our song. We could not believe it,” John told the crowd.

He then proceeded to dedicate the song to her memory and perform the gospel-tinged number with such a heartfelt, spiritual feeling there could be no question why Frankin covered it.

Then came a moment that really tugged at everyone’s heartstrings as John introduced “Tiny Dancer” by dedicating it to Jaime Guttenberg, a 14-year-old student who was one of the 17 students and teachers killed in the Parkland, Fla., school shooting.

John told the crowd he had been informed that Jaime loved to dance to the song.

“I had an email about it just before I went on,” John said. “I’m really upset to think that someone so beautiful and so young could have been dispensed in such an awful way. So, this is for Jaime and thank you for dancing to my song.”

John performed “Tiny Dancer” with so much emotional energy that by the time it was done, he slumped over the piano exhausted.

He had a somewhat awkward follow-up song, “Have Mercy on the Criminal,” one he admitted he and the band rarely play. No doubt many in the crowd had likely never heard it. There was plenty of power in John’s voice as he sang it and it included a brilliantly evocative guitar solo by Davey Johnstone.

The entire band performed brilliantly and tightly, including John’s longtime drummer Nigel Olsson, keyboardist Kim Bullard, percussionist and backing vocalist John Mahon, percussionist Ray Cooper and bass player and backing vocalist Matt Bissonette. John made sure to point out that Bissonette’s son Josh plays minor league baseball for the Pirates.

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As the show went on, it seemed John knew it would be his last in Pittsburgh. He nearly wore himself out getting up from his piano between almost every song to acknowledge his cheering Yinzer fans.

As with the 2019 show, this concert came with elaborate video enhancement. Unfortunately, the videos were largely an unwelcome distraction from the live music on the stage.

One exception was “Rocket Man,” which launched with some trippy “2001”-style special effects and included views of Earth from space and animated views of Mars to coincide with the line “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids.” John and Johnstone stretched out the song’s climax in a way that made it seem as though neither wanted it to end. They combined to create some wonderful ethereal sounds before John went into Jerry Lee Lewis mode, banging out a booming boogie-woogie finish.

John would bring the emotions down to earth with “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” calling it “one of my favorite songs Bernie and I ever wrote.”

He followed up with a version of “Levon” that made it feel like we were thrust into a revival meeting. By the time it was over, John was slumped over the piano again, but made it to his feet to drink in the rousing ovation.

Then things calmed way down with the obligatory “Candle in the Wind,” accompanied by a rotten video featuring a cheesy actress trying to play Marilyn Monroe. Surely, there’s enough film of the actual Marilyn available to make a decent video with. And why bother? Despite being written in 1973, most people think the song was penned for Princess Diana anyway. And, although John would never admit it, he really doesn’t seem to be into playing it anymore.

The unofficial second half of the show kicked off with one of his absolute best pieces, “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding.” The opening spooky, stormy sound effects were loud enough to make people think the North Shore was under attack and were accompanied by a video that looked like it was lifted from a Frankenstein movie. It was stretched out to allow John time for a costume change.

After a wardrobe change Elton John rides his piano back across the stage while playing "Funeral for a Friend." pic.twitter.com/KuSQFMRDRy

— Paul Guggenheimer (@PGuggenheimer) September 17, 2022

With the lights down, the piano was moved (with the help of hydraulics) from the center to the right side of the stage. Elton then appeared on the piano in a baby blue suit with black velvet trim, a white ruffled shirt and a flock of diamonds crowded onto his cuffs.

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As the piano glided back into position, he played those familiar, sweetly somber notes before picking up the tempo and turning the song into the exotic Latin-flavored dance number that morphs into the passion rocker “Love Lies Bleeding.”

John sounded like he did in his prime as he belted it out. He can’t sing the falsetto parts anymore, but he did hit some upper range notes along the way. Only this group of musicians could bring such an art behemoth to life so effectively.

All those in attendance can count themselves as fortunate to have witnessed it, likely for the last time.

Other highlights included “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” with scenes from the biopic “Rocketman” effectively accompanying it.

The encore included his collaboration with Dua Lipa (she appeared on video) on the single “Cold Heart,” which has sold over 2.5 million copies. John said he didn’t expect, at 75, he would have a No. 1 hit again.

Eventually, and reluctantly, John would have to acknowledge the old clock on the wall, which was moving toward 10:30 p.m., and wrap up the show. But he did not depart without a classy farewell address.

“Tonight is my 90th, and last, concert in Pennsylvania. Thank you for all the years of supporting me. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here,” he said. “Thank you so much. I’m going to spend time with my children and my husband, and I’m going to have a great time. … I will never forget you.”

And we will never forget John after all the years of providing so much of the soundtrack to our lives.

He closed the show with “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” the song that made a lot of music fans realize he was special, in a Beatles kind of way.

After leaving the stage, a video popped up on the screen showing John walking through a door and away on, what else, a yellow brick road.

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Friday night’s concert was John’s first solo outing at the home of the Pirates, although he did co-headline a concert with Billy Joel in August 1994 at Three Rivers Stadium.

But it remains to be seen if this really will be it for the legendary performer who has been saying goodbye from Steel City stages since 1984, when his first “farewell tour” played the Civic Arena.

The Igloo is long gone, but John is still standing.

His most recent goodbye (before Friday) was Nov. 13, 2019, at PPG Paints Arena. Whether intentional or not, he toyed with our emotions that night, saying “This is our final show in Pittsburgh. We won’t be coming back.”

Three years later, John was back and the crowd of about 40,000 who showed up on a lovely late summer night was glad he changed his mind.

Elton John's setlist

1. Bennie and the Jets
2. Philadelphia Freedom
3. I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
4. Border Song (dedicated to Aretha Franklin)
5. Tiny Dancer (dedicated to Jaime Guttenberg)
6. Have Mercy on the Criminal
7. Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
8. Take Me to the Pilot
9. Someone Saved My Life Tonight
10. Levon
11. Candle in the Wind
12. Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
13. Burn Down the Mission
14. Sad Songs (Say So Much)
15. Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word
16. Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
17. The Bitch is Back
18. I’m Still Standing
19. Crocodile Rock
20. Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Encore

21. Cold Heart (with Dua Lipa)
22. Your Song
23. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Categories:AandE | Downtown Pittsburgh | Editor's Picks | Music | Northside | Pittsburgh | Top Stories

FAQs

How many people were at the Elton John concert in Pittsburgh? ›

In his Pittsburgh Press review, Pete Bishop said of the headliner, “I've never seen a rock crowd as frenzied as they were last night. His show was absolutely the greatest. And so is he.” On his return trip, John broke the arena attendance record at the time with a crowd of 15,040.

Who is the opening act for Elton John 2022? ›

There is no opening act touring with Elton John on his farewell tour. While there is always a chance for special guests, like Dua Lipa, and surprise musical acts, fans can expect a full set from Elton John only.

How long is Elton's farewell tour? ›

2023 kicks off with two shows in Auckland, New Zealand on January 27 and 28, and soon-to-be-announced dates in Australia before the epic 5-year tour formally concludes in Stockholm, Sweden on July 8, 2023.

When was Elton John's last performance? ›

Elton John has announced that his final U.S. show—scheduled for November 20 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles—will be livestreamed on Disney+.

Do people dress up for Elton John concert? ›

Elton John is a musical icon who has been entertaining fans for over five decades. His spectacular live shows are known for their energy and passion, and fans often dress up to show their support.

How long are Elton John concerts? ›

How long are Elton John concerts? Elton John sets can last up to three hours, with the artist playing over 20 tracks from across his career.

What side of stage does Elton John play? ›

As you look at the stage, Elton sits on the far left facing his piano which extends towards the middle of the stage.

What songs does Elton John play at his farewell concert? ›

Elton John closed his last Philadelphia show with a barrage of his biggest, gaudiest hits: “Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me”, “The Bitch Is Back”, “I'm Still Standing”, “Crocodile Rock”, and “Saturday Night's Already for Fighting” in rapid succession.

How much are tickets to see Elton John in Las Vegas? ›

$44.00 is the lowest price you'll pay for your Elton John tickets. These affordable Elton John tickets are often for seats located away from the stage. A premium Elton John floor seat can cost you as high as $7068.00. $363.00 is usually the average price you'll pay to attend a Elton John Allegiant Stadium concert.

What is Elton John's net worth 2022? ›

Elton John's Net Worth in 2022 (Estimate): $500 million. Elton John's net worth in 2022 is $500 million. This is according to reputable outlets such as Celebrity Net Worth. Elton John, originally named Reginald Dwight, was born in Pinner, Middlesex, England.

What will be Elton John's last concert? ›

As Deadline reported exclusively in May, the live stream Elton John's last concert at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, the final American stop of his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour,” is part of a big feature documentary package, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: The Final Elton John Performances And the Years That Made His ...

How many final tours has Elton John had? ›

It is intended to be John's final tour and will consist of more than 300 concerts worldwide.
...
Farewell Yellow Brick Road.
Start date8 September 2018
End date8 July 2023
Legs9
No. of shows182 in North America 98 in Europe 48 in Oceania 329 in Total
Elton John concert chronology
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Is the Elton John concert sold out? ›

Due to overwhelming demand, superstar Elton John, recently crowned by Billboard as the most successful performing male solo artist of all time, added 25 additional North American concert dates to his sold out Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.

How long is Elton John's Yellow Brick Road? ›

It was a touching finale for the 2 hour, 25 minute concert, Sir Elton's fifth show in Detroit on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, which kicked off back in the pre-pandemic days of 2018.

How old are Elton John? ›

Who dresses Elton John? ›

One designer who has been a constant through Elton's career is Richard James, the Savile Row tailor known for its bright use of color and unconventional suiting.

What do you wear to an outdoor concert 2022? ›

Shorts and Tees

The short-and-tee combo is another classic, regardless of what kind of concert you're attending. You can wear shorts and a T-shirt to everything from a rock concert to jazz in the park. There are jean shorts for a casual look and khaki shorts if you want something dressier.

How long does the concert last? ›

So how long is a concert exactly? A rock concert is generally about 3 to 4 hours long. This depends on how many acts are on the lineup. Typically there are three performers for the night, with the headlining artist playing the longest set.

Is there a support act for Elton John? ›

There is no confirmed support act for Elton John's farewell tour.

Is Elton John performing in 2022? ›

Elton John is not due to play near your location currently - but they are scheduled to play 68 concerts across 13 countries in 2022-2023. View all concerts.

What are the best seats for Elton John concert? ›

The very best seats would probably be Front Row AA Orchestra 5 section seats 501 and 502 or Orchestra 4 Seats 405 and 406 in front row AA. Even Orchestra 6 seats row BB 601 and 602 would be great- although when you look at the seating chart it doesn't look like it- it's only because Elton sits so far in that direction.

How much are tickets to Elton John concert in Pittsburgh? ›

Tickets for Elton John shows in Pittsburgh start at $167.00, and average $133.00. However, prices can vary based on the date of show, seat selection, tour guests, and many other factors.

What time does Elton John concert finish Watford? ›

There will be sound-checks during the day, which will be noisy. Sound levels during the event will adhere to industry guidelines and be within limits agreed with Watford Borough Council. The venue will open from 4.30pm and the concert will start about 7pm and will be finished at approximately 10pm.

Does Elton John still collaborate with Bernie Taupin? ›

He is best known for his long-term collaboration with musician Elton John, a songwriting partnership that is one of the most successful in history. Taupin has written the lyrics for most of John's songs.
...
Bernie Taupin.
Bernie Taupin CBE
Years active1967–present
LabelsIsland
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What songs are on yellow brick road? ›

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

How many Elton John songs are there? ›

Throughout his career, John has recorded a total of 464 songs, most of which are written by him and Taupin.

Who has Vegas residency September 2022? ›

Modern country superstar Miranda Lambert opens her Velvet Road residency at Planet Hollywood in September 2022. Her gorgeous voice and Southern charm have made her a household name, and as one of the most decorated performers in country music history, Miranda Lambert - Velvet Road is one concert you won't want to miss.

Does Elton John still play in Vegas? ›

Elton John will take on Doyers Stadium on November 19, 2022 and November 20, 2022.

When did Elton play Las Vegas? ›

The Red Piano
LocationLas Vegas, Nevada, US
VenueThe Colosseum at Caesars Palace
Start date13 February 2004
End date22 April 2009
Elton John concert chronology
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How many seats are in PNC Park? ›

Can you take bags into PNC Park? ›

Bags will not be permitted at entry to PNC Park, except for bags used exclusively for medical equipment or diaper bags for the care or infants and toddlers. Guests will still be permitted to bring a clutch purse into PNC Park, provided they are 8” x 5” x 1” or smaller.

How old are Elton John? ›

Who has hit the most home runs at PNC Park? ›

It was Pujols' 35th career home run at PNC Park, his most at any visiting ballpark.

What river is behind PNC Park? ›

PNC Park stands on the banks of the Ohio River in the Northside neighborhood of Pittsburgh. It occupies 14.7 acres of riverfront real estate north of the Three Rivers Park Walkway. PNC Park sits between the Fort Duquesne Bridge and the Roberto Clemente Bridge.

Can you bring a blanket into PNC? ›

PERSONAL LAWN CHAIRS are NOT ALLOWED. Blankets are still allowed and chairs are available to rent for $5. Recording equipment is strictly prohibited, TVs and any other equipment that hasn't been unauthorized within the center. FIRST AID Station can be located at the right side of the main plaza.

Can I take food into PNC Park? ›

Guests are permitted to bring bottled water and food into PNC Park.

How much is a beer at PNC Park? ›

PNC Park comes in at number 12 on the list with a 16-ounce beer costing $5.50. That's actually 3rd best for all stadiums with a 16-ounce beer being the smallest option.

Is Elton John still rich? ›

Having been in the music industry for over five decades, Elton John has come a very long way in his career and has made an incredible impact in the music world. As of October 2022, Elton John's net worth is roughly $500 Million.

How many biological children does Elton John? ›

John is married to David Furnish, a Canadian filmmaker and advertising executive. The couple have two children, Zachary, 11, and Elijah, 9.

How accurate is Rocketman? ›

The script was developed by Lee Hall, who spent many hours with John, hearing stories and anecdotes, according to Fletcher. And, for the most part, the movie fairly accurately recreates John's life as a young boy through the '70s.

What is the best thing to eat at PNC Park? ›

Classic PNC Park Food Choices
  • Classic Meals: Hot dogs, French Fries, kielbasa, peanuts, pretzels, and more in countless concession stands around the venue.
  • BRGR: Gourmet burgers for fans to enjoy out in section 115.

Can you use cash at PNC Park? ›

PNC Park is a completely cashless ballpark. Credit and debit cards as well as Apple/Google Pay will be accepted. A reverse ATM will be available to convert cash to a pre-paid Mastercard. This service is free of charge to fans.

What beer is sold at PNC Park? ›

Though it's brewed in Pottsville not Pittsburgh, Yuengling is still a Pennsylvania beer that has a variety of options available in the ballpark. Other local options include: Tröegs Sunshine Pils, Victory Summer Love, North Country Bucksnort Stout, Rusty Rail Fools Gold and Yards Brawler.

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