Concert review: Elton John says "Goodbye" at PNC Park

click to enlarge Concert review: Elton John says "Goodbye" at PNC Park
CP Photo: Jordan Snowden
Elton John performing during his farewell tour at PNC Park on Sat., Sept. 17, 2022

The third time’s the charm, right? Or, at least, it is in the case of Elton John and his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour, which landed in Pittsburgh for the third, and most likely final, time this past weekend at PNC Park.

Against the beautiful city skyline that sparkled just like John and his glittery ensemble featuring “E.J.” on the back, the British musician put on a vibrant 23-song performance that was one I will personally never forget. It was my first time seeing him live, and, although John has been saying “farewell” for years, I’d put money on Friday’s concert actually being the final show he does in Pittsburgh. At 75 years old, John gave an energetic and full-fledged performance. But it was hard for my heart not to squeeze every time he got up from the piano to engage with the audience and hobbled across the stage. This latest edition of the “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” was postponed following hip surgery in late 2021.

click to enlarge Concert review: Elton John says "Goodbye" at PNC Park
CP Photo: Jordan Snowden
Elton John, as seen on the jumbotron

Starting just a few minutes after 8 p.m., John kicked off the show with “Bennie And The Jets,” one of his more lively and upbeat tracks. The crowd — also decked out in glittery wares — was on their feet screaming as soon as the first notes permeated the air. And in this version of “Bennie And The Jets,” John added musical embellishments like funky piano riffs that would turn out to be the theme of the night; his classics, only longer and more extravagant than ever before. After all, it was his final show in Pennsylvania, and he made sure to bring out all the stops.

A few of my favorite moments of the night include an extended performance of “Rocket Man,” which, paired with the three large screens surrounding the stage, provided for an audio and visual experience that literally felt out of this world, along with John’s moving rendition of “Tiny Dancer.” He dedicated the track to Parkland shooting causality Jaime Guttenberg. Her father Fred tweeted to John earlier in the day, letting the singer know that his sister, and Jamie’s aunt, Abby would be in attendance at the Pittsburgh concert. I have goosebumps just writing this — there was a tangible shift in the crowd as John spoke.

“I’m really upset to think that someone so beautiful and so young could have been dispensed in such an awful way,” he said. “So, this is for Jamie, and thank you for dancing to my song.”

After exiting the stage following “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” John returned for an encore (of course!) that launched with my favorite remake of the year: “Cold Heart” featuring Dua Lipa, a disco version of his hit and biopic namesake “Rocket Man.”

Thank you, Elton. And farewell (for now).