Sir Elton John has said it is important that people do not forget the sacrifice made by NHS and frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The musician, 75, paid tribute to them during his Friday night show performing at British Summer Time (BST) Hyde Park festival in London.
During his hit song I’m Still Standing, in collaboration with Vodafone and using Augmented Reality (AR) technology, fans were able to enjoy a time-synced 3D show, viewed via a special app.
Sir Elton told the PA news agency: “I couldn’t have more admiration for NHS workers.
“When you saw the news footage of what they were dealing with at the height of the pandemic, it was horrific but also completely awe inspiring that they were keeping going under the most awful circumstances.
“It’s important that we don’t forget the sacrifices made by NHS workers during that time so I think anything that we can do, even if it’s just a small thing like giving away tickets or speaking about it in the press, that reminds people of what they went through, helps”.
Sir Elton performed songs from either end of his half-century as a recording artist, with dedications to late collaborators Aretha Franklin and George Michael along the way during his show.
His appearance at the festival, which returned on Friday for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic, came part-way through his marathon Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.
The 300-plus date worldwide run is due to conclude next year and will mark his retirement from touring after 52 years on the road.
Hit song I’m Still Standing, written by Sir Elton and Bernie Taupin, was released as part of his 1983 album Too Low For Zero.
Sir Elton said of the song and it’s relevance now: “Who could ever have imagined a global pandemic like that and us having been through what everyone has been through in the past couple of years.
“But I’m Still Standing is a song that has taken on so many meanings to different people over the years. That’s the magic of pop music.
“Something that just starts as a seed of an idea between me and Bernie can take on a life all of its own and go on to mean so much to so many people.
“It almost stops being your song at that point, the public take it and give it life and new meanings, it’s almost like folk music.”
He added: “I’ve always tried to look forward with everything I do.
“The future is what excites me, not what’s happened before.
“When we launched the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, we announced it with a big VR moment that took people through the 50 years of my career.
“That kind of thing really excites me and helps connect my music with new fans and new generations.
“And also new artists give me energy, and new ideas.
“My Apple Music Rocket Hour show is a real joy to do, being able to help young and emerging artists at the very beginning of their careers.
“The day I start resting on past glories and note caring about new music and innovations is the day I hang up my boots.”
Max Taylor, consumer director at Vodafone UK, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many NHS and frontline workers enjoying the tech tribute we designed for Elton John’s iconic song, I’m Still Standing.
“We hope we helped the audience feel connected to the performance in a new, exciting way and that it will be one that they will remember for a long time to come”.
During his BST show, Sir Elton played a stripped-back rendition of Candle In The Wind, which was rerecorded in 1997 to mark the death of his friend, Diana, Princess of Wales, and whose memorial fountain stands in Hyde Park.
His encore included Cold Heart (PNAU Remix), the 2021 number one single with Dua Lipa.
The Rolling Stones perform at BST Hyde Park on Saturday, with the Eagles on the bill for Sunday and Adele, Pearl Jam and Duran Duran will also headline the festival, sponsored by American Express, this summer.