Elton John Starts the Long Goodbye as Farewell Tour Begins: 2018

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He announced his farewell tour in his typically grand style with a live streamed press conference on January 24, 2018. And nearly nine months later, Elton John began his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour on Sept. 8 – on a Saturday night (wink, wink) in Allentown, Pa., at the PPL Center. The 24-songs, split into two sets – named Maestro and Rock & Roll (including wardrobe changes, naturally) – featured most of his biggest hits as well as several chestnuts from his phenomenal catalog.

And while fans certainly came to hear such favorites as “Candle in the Wind,” “Bennie and the Jets” and “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” he also offered extended versions of “Levon” and “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time).”

The superstar had said that the tour would encompass as much as three years and 300 dates and expects to perform on “every continent” before he called it quits. When tickets went on sale Feb. 2, the initial 60 North American dates in 2018 and 2019 quickly sold-out. The pace continued when shows for 2020 and 2021 were made available. And it continued, pausing for great lengths many times for health reasons (hip surgery, after he fell on a hard surface) and a global crisis that abruptly stopped all live performances that no one could have anticipated.

The tour’s second performance – with the identical setlist – was in the city of brotherly love for the first of two nights at the Wells Fargo Center. Check out highlights from opening night (Sept. 8) and Philadelphia (Sept. 11).

Watch “Philadelphia Freedom” on September 11

Watch Elton John perform “Rocket Man” on the farewell tour opening night

John turned 76 on March 25, 2023. He was 71 when the farewell tour began.

Watch the final six rollicking minutes of “Levon”

Elton John, Farewell Tour, Opening Night, Allentown, PA, PPL Center, September 8, 2018 Setlist

Bennie and the Jets
All the Girls Love Alice
I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues
Border Song
Tiny Dancer
Philadelphia Freedom
Indian Sunset
Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
Take Me to the Pilot
Someone Saved My Life Tonight
Candle in the Wind
Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding

Watch “I’m Still Standing” from September 11

Rock & Roll
Burn Down the Mission
Sad Songs (Say So Much)
Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
The Bitch is Back
I’m Still Standing
Crocodile Rock
Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting

Watch “The Bitch is Back” from Sept. 11

It’s getting late…

John closed both concerts by bookending two key songs in his rise to the top. “Your Song,” the one “that broke the journey open”; and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” which he described as “the one that’s closing the journey.”

Your Song
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Thanks to Rob C for many of the videos.

Related: Our look back at the final performance of the tour, on July 8, 2023

Related: Links for 100s of classic rock tours

Best Classic Bands Staff

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