Review of 'Elton John: Farewell Yellow Brick Road The Final Tour'

Elton John

On November 16, 2018 I purchased tickets for Elton John's November 4, 2020 show at the O2 in London. Circumstances overtook this with the postponement of the show due to Covid in 2020 then later Elton had medical issues forcing him to postpone yet again to, finally, April 5, 2023, 4 years 4 months and 20 days later. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely. Of course now the concert was part of his farewell tour and, for us, we no longer lived in London so it meant a 3 hour train journey for the show. But, we finally saw it.

O2 Billboards

The show experience started as we left the North Greenwich Underground station with billboards illustrated with pictures from Elton John's career and advertising concert memorabilia lining the walkway. Inside the main entrance there were a huge pair of trademark Elton John glasses towering above us.

Elton Glasses

The O2 now has an improved security screening process meaning you can just walk through an arch without having to empty your pockets or put your bags through a scanner, with a staff member taking you aside only if the scanner picks up something they want a closer look at. We had been advised well in advance to not bring any larger bags, food or drink with us so we passed straight through, well in advance of the 6:15 pm time we were told the doors would open (for a 7:30 pm start) but were only allowed up into the stratosphere actually at 6:15. Our seats were midway back to the immediate left of the stage so we had a great view looking down on the stage and the man himself.

A week ago a friend of mine saw the show in Liverpool, having waited just as long as we had for the show, and described the show in one word: Loud. An interesting takeaway from a concert. I am not sure whether this is because I am getting older or what but I do have to concur that it was a bit loud with my ears ringing for several hours afterwards. The only concerns here were that the volume did tend to mean that often it was hard to hear exactly what was being sung and to enjoy the nuances of the music. With 20,000 people I suppose the volume does have to be a bit high…


As you might imagine, the staging was absolutely amazing with a huge backdrop framed with the title “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” around a large video screen that angled out with two areas for the band and a large stage that stretched into the audience. Elton's piano was on a floating island that moved on a track between the left and right sides of the stage but this was only used two times during the performance. It allowed him to concentrate on the performance while now matter where you were seated at some point you would be able to see him. To the left and right of the stage were the typical large video screens but, to be honest, the screen at the back of the stage was what we most often watched. Most pieces were accompanied by appropriate video projections and some even had augmented reality digital effects adding to the video - At one point the video showed live images of Elton's piano on fire as he played it, an echo back to his perhaps slightly more flamboyant days.

As might be expected pretty much all of the music was from his prolific back-catalogue beginning with “Benny and the Jets” through “I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues”, “Tiny Dancer”, “Candle in the Wind” (with vintage, slightly risqué, video footage of Marilyn Munroe, the subject of the song), “Sad Songs”, “I'm Still Standing” and “Crocodile Rock” though he did perform some lesser known pieces as well including “Have Mercy on the Criminal”, “Levon” and “Burn Down the Mission”. The music was generally pitched lower than the original and he certainly did not go for many of the higher notes. “Rocketman” was particularly notable for a long instrumental section where he riffed with the guitar player that finished with Elton feigning a bit of exhaustion. The supporting band was absolutely incredible featuring many members that have been with Elton since the 1970s but still put on a tremendous performance and, indeed, show even more high-octane energy than the man himself who seemed generally quite sedate, at least, for Elton John.

Playing the Piano

Elton did talk to the crowd quite a bit first apologizing for the concert delays then later commenting on various aspects of his career including the fact that this was his 171st performance in London alone and a total of more than 4,000 career performances. This tour alone has something like 333 performances spread over 9 legs. He was at pains to also acknowledge the debt he owes to his friend and lyrist Bernie Taupin who has been with him for so long and provided him with such amazing songs. On why this was his last tour, Elton indicated that he wanted to spend time with his family and relax from having travelled the world for so many years.

There was no opening act (Elton does not appear to need one) with the show starting pretty much bang on 7:30 pm and finishing just after 10:00 pm following a three song encore including him singing along to the chart-topping modern video “Cold Heart” featuring singer Dua Lipa and, unsurprisingly, ending in “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” where he left the stage by riding a small platform into the back video wall which then showed him walking off into the sunset…along the yellow brick road.

Taking a Bow

An amazing performance and one that I will remember for a long time to come. An incredible performer and amazing showman. He will be missed.

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2023-04-05

London O2 Arena

Location: London (England)

Address: Peninsula Square, London SE10 0DX ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE North Greenwich

Telephone: +44 (0)20 8463 2000


Originally the “Millennium Dome”, this was the site of an exhibit during the millennium which then fell into disuse for quite a number of years before being re-purposed as a multi-purpose venue with the massive 20,000 seat “arena” taking up the majority of the space under the dome (when inside the arena you cannot see any of the large tent above you - it is just a large…arena). Under the tent and surrounding the arena are a number of restaurants (some are not that bad), a cinema and a few other smaller entertainment venues. The restaurants now extend to other buildings surrounding the O2.

Seating can be problematic here which is typical for such large arenas. As it is rectangular and artists perform at the one end visibility and cramped necks are an issue. Ideal seating is in the first, ground level of seats but NOT in front the stage (unless you are in the first few rows the person sitting in front of you is going to block your view). Cheaper seats in the second level are quite steeply raked and it can also get hot up there.

Food in the arena itself is quite expensive and you are not allowed to bring in external drinks unless you remove the lids (and they are, of course, non-alcoholic). In fact, any drinks you purchase on site have their lids removed, evidently to avoid the bottle being used as a weapon.

Getting in and out of the arena is generally extremely good with the proximity of the tube station on the Jubilee line (running high capacity trains) very helpful in quickly allowing people to leave. If attending an event on the weekend be sure to check if there are any engineering events though as this has been known to happen during popular performances…