Aging gracefully and knowing when it’s time to call it a day are not part of the purview of rock ‘n’ roll, generally speaking. Case in point: I saw the Who on what the band was calling its “farewell tour” in 1982. At the end of 2017, that band – what’s left of it – was still touring.
Cher, Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne – countless musicians have insisted they were kicking the whole thing in the head, only to think better of quitting later.
The case of Sir Elton John and his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour, which stops Sept. 15 KeyBank Center, seems to be different than that of many of his peers, however.
Yes, John has been claiming he’s had enough of the road for decades, while simultaneously touring like a whirling dervish convinced that his equilibrium was dependent on constant motion. Things have changed, though. John is 71, and he’s got a partner and two children at home.
“Ten years ago, I thought I would die on stage,” John told the New York Times last week. “Maybe I wanted to then, but I don’t now… I don’t want to keep getting up and flying away from the people I love for months at a time anymore. At the end of the day, I’ve been a working musician in the back of a touring van since I was 17 years old. I’ve had a bloody good run. As I sink into the latter stage of my life, I want to do things differently.”
He won’t be “doing things differently” for a good while, though. The “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” jaunt is slated to run to some 300 shows, spread across three years and five continents. It seems that Elton plans to go out in the same manner in which he’s conducted his 50-year career – in a lavish, over-the-top and flamboyant fashion.
As much was apparent from the moment John announced the tour in January, with a simultaneous New York/Los Angeles/London press conference during which attendees were treated to a career-encompassing, CGI-heavy, virtual reality film more than a year in the making.
Next came the announcement of a partnership with Gucci, the result of which provided John with a few dozen one-time-only designs specific to the tour. Then came the hints of a massive, career-encompassing set-list that would somehow manage to include all the big hits – John has amassed more than 50 Top 40 gems in a career that has seen him sell in excess of 300 million records – as well as some “deep cuts” for the more rabid among the fan base.
John has played Buffalo many times over the past two decades. But fans should take very seriously the notion that this may indeed be his final curtain call in our town. Apparently, many of them have done just that: At press time, only “Platinum Seating” tickets – starting at $199 and capping at $702 – remain available via Tickets.com.