Stream or skip? +2023

Elton John Live: Farewell to Dodger Stadium is the packed version of the livestream event Disney+ presented on November 20th as the musician and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer finalized the final North American dates of his ongoing farewell tour. (“Ongoing” is correct: Elton John, now 75, has been weaving around the world on the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour since 2018, a route that has included numerous COVID-related delays.) In addition to the video testimonials and well wishes by the likes of Quincy Jones, Dolly Parton, David and Victoria Beckham, Coldplay, Sting, Lil Nas X and Miley Cyrus, Farewell to Dodger Stadium features John in an appearance with special guests Brandi Carlile, Kiki Dee and Dua Lipa.

opening shot: “It’s going to be a historic and emotional night at Dodger Stadium,” says SportsNet LA reporter Kirsten Watson, in a pre-show standup, “when Elton John plays his final show of his very last American tour.” Watson ties the performance of the evening also with John’s memorable two-night stand at the stadium in 1975. The singer’s sequined and glittery Dodgers uniform from those shows remains a stagewear classic.

The essentials: Stunning aerial camera shots and Elton John’s musical vamp give way to a single chord strummed on the piano and a close-up of the singer in a glittery red, white and blue sequined tuxedo. “Benny and the Jets”, the Bye bye, yellow cobbled road Standout and a classic rock radio staple, hits with a few stabs of sharp funk and sci-fi keys before John and his band smash into “Philadelphia Freedom”. feather boas? Check. College coats are emblazoned rocket Man in the script? Yes. “Bitch is Back” T’s? You know it. With “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” John then shifts his career into the 1980s.

“OK! It’s time to dance. Here we go…” and John and his band can easily transition from a rousing run through “Burn Down the Mission” to “Sad Songs Say So Much,” which he ends with a celebratory slamming of the lid his Yamaha grand piano, but the veteran singer-pianist is also adept at changing moods, which he does on 2002’s ballad “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word,” where his vocals are particularly strong.

These quieter moments include a bit of melancholy. Elton John has been doing this for many years and has lost people in the process. But there’s also a repeat of those happy shows at Dodgers Stadium from 1975, with Kiki Dee’s appearance in Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, and new blood too: Brandi Carlile joins John for Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me”. and Dua Lipa graces the evening’s encore for a performance of the lockdown sessions Single “Cold Heart”.

Where to watch Elton John Live: Farewell to Dodger Stadium?
Photo: Getty Images; Figure: Dillen Phelps

What shows will it remind you of? Speaking of the culminating show of a tour being filmed, Netflix has Barbara Streisand: The music, the memories, the magic, capturing the singer’s 2017 concert in Miami. And Disney+ isn’t done with Elton John yet: the Dodger Stadium performances will be included in the forthcoming documentary with the great title Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: The Final Appearances of Elton John and the Years That Made His Legend.

Our opinion: As for the production, the iconic medley of “Funeral for a Friend” with its 70’s progressive rock vibe and “Love Lies Bleeding” which opens the 1973 double album Bye bye, yellow cobbled road, is here realized to the fullest capacity of Elton John and his band, and comes complete with moody visuals, thunderclap and a rotating piano slide, before guitarist Davey Johnstone ushers in the rocking riffs of “Bleeding” with his gold-splattered Les Paul. And “Rocket Man,” another classic – Elton John is one of those guys whose catalog goes so deep you forget how many possibilities he has in the live space – takes the greatness of the original and builds on it with an expanded, thoughtful instrumental section led by piano and delicate guitar accents. Lines like “I think it’s gonna be a long, long time/’Til touchdown brings me ’round again to find” just come across differently when you’re playing one last gig in North America before retiring.

More set highlights? John’s band howls on “Take Me to the Pilot” and “Levon,” Johnnstone spawns a double-neck electric guitar on “Tiny Dancer,” and John’s solo piano performance of “Candle in the Wind” gets everyone going Cry. arrive complete with the required Marilyn Monroe visuals.

gender and skin: Nothing here.

farewell shot: Between heartening renditions of “Your Song” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” Elton John brings out longtime collaborator and lyricist Bernie Taupin for a big hand, as well as “the reason I’m retiring,” his family: husband David Furnish and her sons Zachary and Elia.

sleeping star: “I’ve learned a lot from each and every one of them,” says Elton John of the musicians and singers who have performed in his band over the years. “But this band that I have now is probably the best, apart from the first one, because every night when I come on stage they play so well and inspire me to play well and they are just fantastic musicians and people.” John’s introductions include touching tributes to percussionist Ray Cooper and drummer Nigel Olson, both of whom have been in and out of his touring band for five decades.

Most pilot line: “It’s been a long journey,” says Elton John at one point from his piano, pausing for a bit of emotion. “I first came here to America in 1972, to the City of Angels, Los Angeles. And I played at a club called Troubadour, which fortunately still exists.” John says this when he and his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin found out Aretha Franklin had covered it Elton-John Single “Border Song” were two English children who were just starting out and were absolutely blown away that the Queen of Soul herself had chosen her composition to sing. His resulting solo piano performance of Border Song pays homage to Franklin and themes of equality, harmony and tolerance.

Our appeal: Stream it. Elton John Live: Farewell to Dodger Stadium honors the singer-pianist’s long career and legendary songbook with a variety of stirring performances, a touch of humor and nostalgia, and a few guest recordings to highlight John’s enduring legacy.

Johnny Loftus is an independent writer and editor living at large in Chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter: @Glenganges

Leave a Comment