Review: Elton John Once in a Lifetime regional tour in Mackay

Elton John

★★★★½

Mackay Stadium, Queensland, September 22

Reviewed by Drew Creighton

Sir Elton John came out swinging at the first stop of his Once in a Lifetime regional tour in Mackay.

He denounced the terror caused by "brainless nightmare idiots," gave a tribute to late friend George Michael and announced it wasn't his last tour of Australia.

The rock star kicked off the night with old favourites including The Bitch is Back, Benny and the Jets and I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues before playing a few songs off his new album.

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"I know you're going to groan," he said at the announcement of his new songs, "But we're going to play them because we like them."

He could not hit the high notes like he used to but at 70 his voice still has the same quality that has made him one of the most popular artists of all time.

Part way through the show he gave tribute to those in cities that have been affected by terrorism over the past few years.

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"It seems to be part and parcel of my daily life and I hate it so much and I want to sing this song in remembrance of anyone who has had to suffer over the last few years at the hand of brainless nightmare idiots."

After a few more crowd pleasers like Tiny Dancer, Sir Elton dedicated a song to his family, present at the show, and to George Michael.

He played Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me, a song that he and Michael sang together in 1991.

By the end of a string of hits including Rocket Man, Your Song and Crocodile Rock a host of revellers had gathered around the stage.

The venue's security tried in vain to keep everyone seated but by the time Sir Elton got to Sad Songs not even the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk stayed seated.

At the end, he took the time to shake hands and sign memorabilia for the crowd before announcing this would not be his last tour of Australia.

"It's not going to be my last time in Australia, someone said it would be but it's not."

He finished with Candle in the Wind as his encore before leaving 15,000 cheering fans.

Mackay, a city of 124,000 people and one of five stops in around the country, had gone all out in preparation for the show, temporarily renaming streets and organising a festival for the day after the event.

The city handled the influx of people into the region for the concert with public transport to and from the venue running smoothly.

The concert was part of a taxpayer-funded deal to get Sir Elton to perform in the regions, the sum of which has been kept secret by the government. 

A redacted Right To Information request was supplied but the cost of the event and any deals were blacked out citing commercial confidence.