Elton John showed Wollongong the love on Sunday night.
The rock superstar powered through more than 20 of his greatest hits in a mesmerising two-and-a-half-hour concert – with brief interludes where he decried terrorism and endorsed marriage equality.
Resplendent in a glittering gold and black sequinned jacket – with Captain Fantastic emblazoned on the back – he bowed and blew kisses to the audience throughout a show which proved that, at 70, Sir Elton has still got it.
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Taking to the stage around 6.30pm he burst into his self-proclaimed ‘theme song’ The Bitch is Back, followed by his homage to glam rock Bennie and the Jets.
The hits kept coming – I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues, Rocket Man, Tiny Dancer, Your Song – before a touching tribute to his friend and duet partner, the late George Michael, with Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.
Elton kept the chat to a minimum, but what he did say spoke volumes.
‘’I’ve been coming to Australia since 1971. I’ve always loved coming here. I’ve had so much fun down here,’’ he said.
He even got married here, he told the more than 20,000 strong crowd – to Renate Blauel in February 1984 in Darling Point, Sydney.
‘’Now I’m married to a man (David Furnish) – and there’s nothing wrong with that,’’ he said, to a crowd in the midst of a same-sex marriage debate. The wild cheers in response said it all.
Then, before launching into his 2001 hit I Want Love, he reaffirmed his desire for love – and peace.
‘’We live in very peculiar, dangerous and weird times,’’ Elton said. ‘’There’s never been a time when I’ve felt so uncertain about what’s going on in the world.
‘’People driving into people and killing them in trucks, blowing them up and throwing acid in their faces. But I believe in passion and love. This song is about that.’’
Towards the end of his set, Elton introduced his band including longtime drummer Nigel Olsson and guitarist Davey Johnstone, before bringing the audience to its feet with I’m Still Standing and Crocodile Rock.
Elton then took the time to generously sign programs – and a ‘Vote Yes’ sign – for some lucky patrons up front.
The show finished perfectly, with Elton’s ode to fifties sex symbol Marilyn Monroe, Candle in the Wind. In absence of candles, those within the stadium improvised – iPhone spotlights went on to reflect the mood.
Then, as quicky as he arrived, Elton hopped aboard his chopper – leaving behind an adoring crowd well satisfied by a once-in-a-lifetime performance.