Elton John gets in one last farewell in New York


NEW YORK – Hey, nobody said retirement was easy.

Just 43 hours after Elton John bid an extraordinary, permanent, and irreversible farewell to his North American tour with a triumphant three-night run at Dodger Stadium capped off by global live streaming on Disney Plus, he’s back on stage, time is playing the grand piano in the middle of Fifth Avenue and singing one final, final, last song.

John’s last appearance in the United States, a curious and small epilogue to the grand adieu, was on Tuesday night when he stopped traffic in one of the busiest commercial areas in America to open the Christmas shopping season as a surprise guest performer at Saks Fifth Avenue. annual open holiday window and light show. It’s not a typical way one would expect the 75-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer to follow up the end of the 271-show he started planning seven years ago.

But Saks donated $1 million to the Elton John AIDS Foundation. And she and her family – her husband, David Furnish, and two sons Zachary, 11, and Elijah, 9 – have headed east to return to London. So, why not?

“I can’t think of a more magical way to close the Yellow Brick Road Farewell tour in the US than here on Fifth Avenue with my family, experiencing my music and my work with the Elton John AIDS Foundation combined with New York’s best holiday window display and light show ,” John said in a perfectly worded quote for Saks PR, which he was kind enough to send to The Washington Post.

Furnish was called “the cherry on top of a beautiful cake” and “something very special” in a phone interview. The point is to do this because it’s “an opportunity for EJAF,” says Furnish, who also serves as chairman of the foundation’s board and John’s manager. But, as a bonus, “It’s going to kick off our family Christmas, which is great,” he said.

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As the clock ticked down, police blocked off Fifth Avenue between 50th and 49th streets outside the flagship Saks store. A sea of ​​tourists, many in town for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, ran into the void of traffic, jostling for a better view, unaware that John was on the road, and with buses honking and taxis and rickshaws backing up. up in the back.

At exactly 7 p.m., the crew ran out of the piano onto the sidewalk and two minutes later, John entered the grand, riding a golf cart decorated with big light stars, wearing a green jacket with red track pants, waving and blowing kisses. He thanked Saks, that David and the children joined him on stage for the countdown, and then launched into the song “Lagumu”.

And only “Your Song.”

“It’s one song because we can’t close Fifth Avenue down for too long or we’ll have a lot of angry New Yorkers,” Furnish said, laughing. “Your Song” was John’s choice because it was his first hit in America (and two minutes shorter than “Tiny Dancer”).

John barely had time to applaud before the race (as much as possible while recovering from hip surgery) to join his family in the stands. The front of Saks exploded with a light show, which was designed to look like a tree and flashed to a medley of songs, including the dance club hit, “Cold Heart (Pnau Remix)” with Dua Lipa. Then the windows came to life, including what looked like Lite Brite and others, as a tribute to John, who had rockets up and down on pistons.

There are fireworks! And then it was over. John walked across the street, took a picture and entered the store. All of them took 15 minutes, and ended with the police officer shouting at the photographer and the guest out of the way already so that the city bus can pass.

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Elton John’s North American concerts may be over, but he still has plenty of shows ahead of him. Her farewell tour – two years behind schedule, after delays due to covid and 2021 hip surgery – stopped a month before taking off in January for a few dates in Australia and New Zealand, then the UK and Europe, before the end. he finally hangs up his glittering captain’s hat in Stockholm on July 3rd.

“I’ve made this video twice,” Miley Cyrus joked in a video tribute to John that played during Los Angeles farewell. Furnish knows that people are skeptical, so he wants to be clear. “Really, he’ll never tour again,” he said. “Those days are over and they’ve closed the curtain. It’s over.”

John will be 76 when this tour ends and, as much as he loves his fans and performing live, Furnish said, “He found the journey very difficult and he found it far from his family. And, you know, our boys will age 10 and 12 and have reached an age where we feel they need us more than ever.

They couple has reflected more on what it means to be together, and present themselves as a loving unit, in the past few days, Furnish said. John did not mention from the stage, but the final Dodgers show on Saturday night after shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, when a gunman killed six people in a gay bar, the latest attack on the LGBTQ community. “It was deeply, deeply depressed and deeply distressed,” Furnish said.

“You know, on the one hand, Elton was able to bring his wife and two sons on stage with an incredibly warm response from the entire audience,” Furnish continued. “And it’s out on a live stream around the world. And in other parts of the world that would be considered promoting homosexuality and homosexuality as a lifestyle rather than something natural and normal for people.

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The Colorado Springs shooting, he said, made him even more committed to the mission of the AIDS Foundation’s Rocket Fund, which is to eliminate the stigma that AIDS causes people who are “afraid to get an AIDS test, afraid to take medication, afraid to discuss or reveal their open status because of fear of recrimination based on sexuality,” said Furnish. And that’s why he opened the door for John to do charity events in the future.

Over the weekend in Los Angeles, John visited a landmark show in 1975 when he was arguably the biggest pop star in the world. He is also an addict, and not openly gay, but has come out as bisexual. In 1984, he married a woman, Renate Blauel, divorced four years later. The first show “was really hard for me because I wasn’t in a very good place, mentally and physically,” John said in a video played before the show.

He is now 32 years sober. He has been with Furnish for 29 years. When asked what he would miss about touring as part of a Disney special, he said, “Nothing. I’ve been doing it since I was 17 in the back of a van with my first band.

He is excited for the new chapter, said Furnish. “Could he do it once? Could he do something like a residency at the theater? Maybe, maybe not. He’s not closing the door to doing it completely. Furnish cited Kate Bush’s 22 shows in 2014 at the London theater as a potential blueprint, and said John is eager to dig through his catalog and play lesser known songs.

But the door is closed on one type of performance. “He’s not doing a Vegas residency. That’s off the table,” Furnish said. In the meantime, maybe he’ll just hang out with his kids and ride a shiny golf cart in front of the Christmas lights.


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