FIFTEEN years on from his first performance in the city, music legend Elton John returned to Leeside on Friday evening for his last ever show in Cork – and what a night it was.
It marked the 236th show of the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour which began in 2018 and, after being delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, finishes next year.
It is intended to be John's final tour, consisting of more than 300 concerts worldwide – a taxing schedule no doubt, but the 75-year-old star was the picture of exuberance when he took to the stage to tumultuous applause in Páirc Uí Chaoimh just after 8pm.
"We’re so lucky,” he said, addressing the tens of thousands gathered for the open-air gig.
“We’re getting to the end of the European outside shows, we’ve got two more to do after tonight so we’re going to make this one count,” he promised.
And oh, did he deliver.
‘Bennie And The Jets’ from the multi-platinum Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album was the buoyant anthem that set the tone for the rest of the two-hour plus set which continued to build momentum as the show went on.
The crowd moved in a kaleidoscope of colour as the musical genius performed hit after hit, including ‘Tiny Dancer’, ‘Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time)’, ‘Candle In The Wind’, and ‘Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word’.
His performance of ‘Border Song’ was dedicated to the memory of Aretha Franklin, whom he said he “idolised” while ‘Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me’ was dedicated to his “fabulous, wonderful, gorgeous” friend Graham Norton, who was present at the gig.
There was scarcely a person not on their feet grooving to the hattrick of hits – ‘I’m Still Standing’, ‘Crocodile Rock’ and ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’ played in succession towards the end of the gig.
The crowd duly obliged when John called for a “big Cork roar” for the superb musicians who joined him on stage - comprising John Mahon on percussion and vocals, Kim Bullard on keyboard, percussionist Ray Cooper, Nigel Olsson on drums and vocals, Matt Bissonette on bass guitar and vocals and David Johnstone on guitar and vocals.
John’s latest hit, ‘Cold Heart—PNAU Remix’, followed by his first hit 52 years ago, ‘Your Song’ formed two out of the three songs for the encore before, ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’.
“But I will never forget you guys. You’re in my heart – how could I forget you? You’re in my soul, my heart,” John said in his last address to the crowd which spanned the generations.
“Be kind to each other, love each other. I wish you health, happiness, prosperity and I’ll say goodnight.”
Certainly, it’s gonna be a long, long time before concertgoers forget Friday night’s stellar show.