Elton John bids farewell to New York

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NEW YORK – Hey, nobody said retiring was easy.

Just 43 hours after Elton John bid a spectacular, permanent, and unrequited farewell to a North American tour with a triumphant three-night run at Dodger Stadium capped off by a live global broadcast on Disney Plus, he was already back on stage, this time playing a grand piano in the middle of Fifth Avenue and singing a last, last, final song.

John’s last real performance in the United States, a curious and minor epilogue to his grand farewell, came on Tuesday night when he briefly halted traffic in one of America’s busiest commercial stretches to open the Christmas shopping season as a surprise guest at Saks Fifth Avenue. annual unveiling of its holiday window displays and light show. It’s not the typical way one would expect a 75-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer to follow the end of a 271-show streak he started planning there. is seven years old.

But Saks is donating a million dollars to the Elton John AIDS Foundation. And he and his family – her husband, David Furnish, and their two sons Zachary, 11, and Elijah, 9 – were already heading east to return home to London. So why not?

“I can’t think of a more magical way to end my Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour in the United States than by being here on Fifth Avenue with my family, experiencing both my music and my work with the Elton John AIDS Foundation embedded in New York’s most iconic window displays and light show,” John said in a perfectly worded quote to Saks PR, who was kind enough to forward it to The Washington Post.

Furnish called it “an icing on an incredibly beautiful cake” and “a very special one-off” during a phone interview. The beauty of doing so is that it’s “an opportunity for EJAF,” said Furnish, who is also chairman of the foundation’s board and director of John. But, as a bonus, “it’s going to kick off Christmas with the family, which is wonderful,” he said.

As the hour approached, police blocked Fifth Avenue between 50th and 49th Streets in front of Saks’ flagship store. A sea of ​​tourists, many in town for Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, rushed through the void of traffic, jostling for a better view, unaware that John was on his way, and with a stream of honking buses, taxis and pedicabs supported behind them.

At 7 p.m. sharp, a team rushed to get a piano out onto the sidewalk and two minutes later John made his grand entrance, riding a golf cart decorated with large, bright stars, in a green jacket with slacks. red sweatpants, waving and blowing kisses. He thanked Saks, asked David and the kids to join him on stage for a countdown, then launched into a heartfelt rendition of “Your Song”.

And only “Your song”.

“It’s a song because we can’t close Fifth Avenue for very long or we’re going to have a lot of angry New Yorkers,” Furnish said with a laugh. “Your Song” was John’s choice because it was his first hit in America (and two minutes shorter than “Tiny Dancer”).

John barely had time to soak up the applause before running (as best he could while recovering from hip surgery) to join his family in the stands. Saks’ front exploded with the light show, which was designed to look like a tree and flashed to a medley of his songs, including his dance club hit, “Cold Heart (Pnau Remix)” featuring Dua Lipa. Then the windows came to life, including one that looked like a Lite Brite and another, in homage to John, that had rockets that went up and down on pistons.

There were fireworks! And then it was over. John crossed the street, posed for a few photos, and walked into the store. The whole thing lasted 15 minutes and ended with police yelling at photographers and fleeing guests to get off the street already for a city bus to pass.

Elton John’s North American gigs may be over, but he still has plenty of shows ahead of him. His farewell tour – two years behind schedule, after delays due to covid and his hip surgery in 2021 – is taking a month-long hiatus before resuming in January for a series of dates in Australia and Nova Scotia. Zealand, then the UK and Europe, before finally hanging up his glittering captain’s hat in Stockholm on July 3.

“I’ve made this video many times,” Miley Cyrus joked in a video tribute to John this played at the farewell in Los Angeles. Furnish knows people are skeptical, so he wants to be totally clear. “Absolutely, he will never tour again,” he said. “Those days are over and he pulled the curtain on that. He finished.

John will be 76 at the end of this tour and, while he loves his fans and performing live, said Furnish, “He finds the journey very difficult and he finds it incredibly difficult to be away from his family. And , you know, our boys are going to be 10 and 12 years old and they are reaching the age where we feel that they need us more than ever.

They’ve been thinking a lot more about what it means to them to be together and come out publicly as a loving unit in recent days, Furnish said. John didn’t mention it onstage, but his last Dodgers show came the night after the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, when a gunman killed six people at a gay bar, the latest attack on the LGBTQ community. “It was deeply, deeply depressing and deeply distressing,” Furnish said.

“You know, on the one hand, Elton can bring her husband and two sons on stage to an incredibly warm response from everyone in the audience,” Furnish continued. “And it was broadcast live around the world. And in other parts of the world, that would be seen as promoting homosexuality and homosexuality being a way of life rather than something completely natural and normal for people.

The Colorado Springs shooting, he said, made them both more committed to the mission of the AIDS Foundation’s Rocket Fund, which is to eliminate the AIDS stigma that leads to people who are “afraid to get tested for AIDS, afraid to take their medication, afraid to discuss or openly disclose their status for fear of recrimination based on their sexuality,” Furnish said. And that’s why he leaves the door open for John to organize charity events in the future.

Over the weekend in Los Angeles, John revisited his seminal 1975 shows when he was arguably the biggest pop star in the world. He was also a drug addict, and not openly gay, but had come out as bisexual. In 1984, he married a woman, Renate Blauel, whom he divorced four years later. The first few shows “were tough for me because I wasn’t in a very good position, mentally and physically,” John said in a video released before the show.

Now he has been sober for 32 years. He has been with Furnish for 29 years. When asked what he would miss about touring as part of the Disney special, he replied, “Nothing. I’ve been doing it since I was 17 in the back of a van with my first band.

He’s excited for a new chapter, Furnish said. “Could he do once in a while just once?” Could he do something like a residency in a theatre? Maybe, maybe not. It does not close the door to full performance. Furnish mentioned Kate Bush’s 2014 run of 22 shows at a London theater as a potential plan, and said John was eager to dig into his catalog and play some lesser-known songs.

But the door is closed on one type of performance. “He’s not doing a residency in Vegas. It’s not an option,” Furnish said. In the meantime, maybe he’ll hang out with his kids and ride around in glittering golf carts past the Christmas lights for a while.

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