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Past Times

Elton John set to land in Aberdeen at last as the Rocket Man bids farewell to his fans

He first played Aberdeen in 1972, and his swansong to the Granite City has already been postponed twice. reports.
Susy Macaulay
A true showman, Elton John is to perform in Aberdeen for the final time in his illustrious career.
A true showman, Elton John is to perform in Aberdeen for the final time in his illustrious career.

The Rocket Man is on his way north at last.

Elton John’s three year Farewell Yellow Brick Road worldwide tour was interrupted a couple of years ago after he needed a hip operation.

His two shows at P&J Live in December 2021 were postponed until Tuesday and Thursday of next week. [June 13 and 15 2023]

Covid had already scuppered the Aberdeen dates once before, when he was due to play P&J Live in November 2020.

Faces grueling gig schedules with gusto

Elton during the 2023 tour.  Image:I ZORSTAN/DYDPPA/Shutterstock

Sorry wasn’t the hardest word for Elton when he apologised to his fans.

He said: “I have been advised to have an operation as soon as possible to get me back to full fitness and make sure there are no long-term complications.

“I know how patient my incredible fans have been since Covid halted touring, and it breaks my heart to keep you waiting any longer.

“I completely feel your frustrations after the year we’ve had. I promise you this – the shows will return to the road next year and I will make sure they are more than worth the wait.”

Fortunately, not only is the great man still standing, he’s resumed his gruelling 333 gig tour with gusto.

End of an era for Elton in Aberdeen

He made it clear that he’s retiring, and this is his last tour.  Some have made such claims and then re-enter the fray before long, but Elton is 76, so there will be an added poignancy to the Aberdeen gigs.

An end of an era feeling perhaps as Elton has been a huge musical presence in our lives for so long.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, released half a century ago was one of Elton’s seminal albums, and gives its name to the farewell tour.

Elton played Aberdeen several times, for the first time in the Music Hall in 1972.

Ironically, his first gig was scheduled for 1971, and had to be rescheduled due to illness.

He finally performed at the Music Hall on March 1 1972 during his Winter Tour to promote Honky Château and it proved worth the wait for 1,200 fans.

Tickets were 50p.

Elton recording the Aquarius TV programme in 1971.  Image: ITV/Shutterstock</p> <p>

He walked on stage at the Music Hall wearing a silver jacket, orange T-shirt, red velvet knee-length trousers, red-and-white hooped socks and yellow boots.

Sitting alone at the piano he opened the show with Tiny Dancer before being joined by his band to perform songs from his first five studio albums.

He played songs from Honky Château which would go on to become a staple part of Sir Elton’s tour set lists for five decades including Rocket Man and Honky Cat.

Elton remembers first gig in Aberdeen

The Evening Express reviewer was less than enthusiastic, describing the star’s first gig in the Granite City as “an entertaining evening, certainly, but not wholly satisfying”.

Before his last performance in Aberdeen in 2015, Elton reminisced about that first date.

Elton playing the Caird Hall, Dundee in 1976. Image: DC Thomson

He said: “I can still remember playing at the Music Hall at my first gig in the Granite City in 1972, and am very grateful to the AECC for giving us the chance to construct our own stage for this show.

“I cannot wait to bring my band which includes guitarist Davey Johnstone from Scotland, who has been with me since 1972, back to Aberdeen.

“I am sure we will all have a fantastic time.”

Dressed in a green shirt and a black and green sparkly gown, he ended the UK leg of his 2015 European tour with a hit-packed set that lasted almost two-and-a-half hours.

“What better way to finish a tour than in Scotland,” Sir Elton told the crowd.

No moment demonstrated that better than his version of Scotland the Brave, played on a saltire-draped piano, which sent the audience into raptures when it segued into Rocket Man.

Fish and chips were on Elton’s rider at Pittodrie

That gig in 2015 was his first in the Granite City since 26,000 fans packed Pittodrie Stadium in 2004.

And Ashvale cod, chips and mushy were the 16-piece band’s choice of fuel before going on stage, he revealed.

Aberdeen City Council got right behind the Rocket Man and even kept the airport open late so he could nip home.

A year into his farewell tour, Elton playing the 53rd Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland on June 29, 2019. Image: Loona/Abaca/Shutterstock

Elton John is one of the top-selling solo artists of all time, with 37 gold and 27 multi-platinum albums as well as 58 Billboard Top 40 singles, and he’s sold more than 250 million records worldwide.

Elton’s first tour was the 1970 World Tour, which began in support of his second album Elton John.

Between 1979 and 2014, he toured Israel and the USSR with Ray Cooper in a total 234 concerts.

Elton ready to embark on the Yellow Brick Road.

Between 1994 and 2010, Elton John toured extensively with fellow pianist and musician Billy Joel in the Face to Face tours, which became the longest running and most successful concert tandem in pop music history.

After more than 3,500 concerts, in his eighth decade after an extraordinary, hard-working, and at times troubled and turbulent life, Elton is finally stepping back.

Fans next week will no doubt feel a tinge of sadness that the flamboyant, exuberant, irrepressible Mr John will never play the Granite City again.

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