Las Vegas bidding Elton John goodbye again
In January, Elton John announced to the world via a press conference live-streamed from New York that he was undertaking a three-year farewell tour, then retiring from life on the road. Unfortunately, the Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour does not include dates at Caesars Palace, where he’s been a regular headliner since 2004. John’s spring appearances at the Colosseum will be the last run of his second Caesars residency, The Million Dollar Piano, an effective goodbye to Las Vegas until at least the end of his currently scheduled European shows in July 2019. His final Colosseum concert is May 17.
That will surely be a landmark show in a career studded with countless live highlights. The piano prodigy born Reginald Dwight made his bones on the British live music scene in the ’60s with a band called Bluesology before meeting lyricist Bernie Taupin, changing his name and recording his first album, Empty Sky. He made his solo live debut on March 25, 1970 (his 23rd birthday), at London’s Revolution Club before embarking on a tour of England, but it was at his legendary first stateside show at the Troubador in L.A. later that year that he became known as a powerhouse solo performer. Neil Diamond introduced him to an audience where many of the members were more famous than John. That would change quickly.
John became known as an outrageous showman with elaborate costumes and extravagant eyewear. Late bassist Neal Murray and current drummer Nigel Olsen were enlisted in 1970, with Million Dollar Piano music director Davey Johnstone joining on guitar two years later. The band endured a punishing concert schedule during the early to mid-’70s. One 1974 show at Madison Square Garden featured John Lennon, in what would turn out to be Lennon’s last major live appearance, performing three songs with John including the No. 1 hit “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night.”
In 1977, John announced his first retirement from performing. He unretired on Sept. 13, 1980, with a free concert before a half-million fans in Manhattan’s Central Park. He sang “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” with George Michael at Live Aid in 1985, and had a No. 6 hit in 1986 with a live recording of “Candle In the Wind” featuring the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He joined Queen in Paris in January 1997 for the final show of the band’s original lineup (minus the late Freddie Mercury) and performed “Candle in the Wind 1997” at Princess Diana’s funeral that September.
The 2000s were most notable for the February 2004 debut of his first Vegas residency, The Red Piano. The collaborative production with director David LaChapelle ran for 248 shows through March 2009. He was back in 2011 for his current residency with a new LED-outfitted Yamaha grand piano, on which he’ll play his final 14 performances at the Colosseum … for now. Although John’s touring days are over, he’s adamant that he’s not retiring from performing. And as many of John’s caliber have discovered, you don’t have to travel when you’re a resident Vegas headliner.
Caesars Palace, 7:30 p.m. April 28-29, May 1-2, 4-6, 8-9, 11-12 & 15-17, starting at $55 plus tax and fee. 888.929.7849