Elton John brings a smile to fans at Pittsburgh show
As Elton John pounded away at the piano, 72-year-old Sharon Gates shook her hips and swayed on the floor of PPG Paints Arena.
The longtime fan raised her hands in the air and sang along as the legendary musician belted out “Philadelphia Freedom,” then later beamed with delight when thousands of pieces of confetti rained down during an especially lively rendition of “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.”
But the best part of the concert for Gates, who’s listened to the English composer for decades? Those swoon-worthy moments when Elton, his eyes twinkling beneath heart-shaped, pink-tinted glasses, turned toward the sold-out crowd and flashed a jovial smile.
“I just love his smile,” said Gates, who attended the show with her Downtown Pittsburgh neighbor Andrea Durst, 37. “He’s so sincere. He’s enjoying himself.”
What do you love most about Elton John?"His smile," says 72-year-old Sharon Gates, who danced on the floor tonight alongside her Downtown #Pittsburgh neighbor Andrea Durst, 37. "He's so sincere. He's enjoying himself." #EltonFarewellTour @eltonofficial pic.twitter.com/sHm8sqVhp0— Natasha Lindstrom (@NewsNatasha) October 11, 2018
"No way I fought #Pittsburgh traffic for Elton just sell to my ticket," one fan says to dismiss a scalper as she excitedly heads into PPG Paints Arena Elton John sold out the venue, with tickets for resale starting at ~$160 earlier today. #YellowBrickRoadTour pic.twitter.com/dGpVTVlC98— Natasha Lindstrom (@NewsNatasha) October 11, 2018
Elton John, 71, rocked yet another sold-out show Wednesday night in Pittsburgh as part of his multi-year Yellow Brick Road Farewell Tour, which pays tribute to the rock and pop icon’s 50-plus year career.
“Good evening, Pittsburgh,” John told the audience as he reflected on what a “long road” his career has been and the volume of songs he had to choose from for his swan tour. “Please bear with me if I don’t play your favorite.”
Inline with recent shows on the tour, John and his six-piece band played plenty of crowd-pleasers, to be sure, from opening with “Bennie and the Jets” and “All The Young Girls Love Alice,” and “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues,” to “Tiny Dancer,” “Candle in the Wind,” and “Your Song.”
“Even in the nosebleed seats, it was a beautiful sight,” said Lindsay Gaydos, 21, of Hampton, a Community College of Allegheny County student who attended the concert with her aunt, Bonnie Schaefer, 55, of McCandless .
“I wish I could relive it. I wish I could do that again.”
Even fans on the floor take a seat as Elton slows down for moving rendition of "Indian Sunset ..".. then everyone is back on their feet for "Rocket Man." Waving Terrible Towels. #EltonFarewellTour #YellowBrickRoad pic.twitter.com/dvXHOKU6SC— Natasha Lindstrom (@NewsNatasha) October 11, 2018
In a white-gold tailcoat emblazoned with crystals and pearls, John played a set of 23 songs against a massive digital screen portraying images of everything from Main Street USA and Soul Train dancers to Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe.
The crowd — many donning funky-shaped glasses and some waving Terrible Towels — leapt to their feet as the backdrop transformed into outer space for “Rocket Man.”
The lights dimmed and other band members left the stage for moving rendition of slower ballads like “Indian Sunset” and “Daniel,” which brought tears to the eyes of Randi Mackintosh, 38, of Columbus, Ohio.
“Our friendship is based off of Elton John, actually,” said Sarah Pennartz, 37, of Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill of she and Mackintosh.
The pair used to work together at a coffee shop in Oakland and bonded over “Tiny Dancer.” Pennartz overheard Mackintosh humming the bars and softly singing the lyrics while packing coffee bean cabinet, they finished the song together.
“We’ve been friends for 10 years now … and it’s all because of Elton,” Pennartz said.
Bennie Pryor, 59, a former Pitt tight end who grew up in Arnold, now lives in Washington, D.C., said he loved the show — but was a tad disappointed Elton’s outfits weren’t more “outlandish.”
“He kept it simple and kind of toned it down,” Pryor said.
The star’s wardrobe changes did include sparkly cobra- and floral-emblazoned jackets and at least three shade swaps — heart-shaped rims with a pink tint, crystal-crusted teal cat eyes and solid red-rimmed hearts.
"Our friendship is based off of Elton John," Sarah Pennartz, 37, of #Pittsburgh 's Squirrel Hill said if she & Randi Mackintosh, 38, of Ohio. "When we first met, we bonded over 'Tiny Dancer.' We've been friends for 10 years now & it's all because of Elton." #EltonFarewellTour pic.twitter.com/e4yRZsYIph— Natasha Lindstrom (@NewsNatasha) October 11, 2018
This is awesome. pic.twitter.com/vqeVCGQHIS— Doug Gulasy (@dgulasy_Trib) October 11, 2018
Fans who missed out this week still have another chance to bid farewell to John.
He’ll be back in Pittsburgh again, on Nov. 13, 2019. The presale for next year’s show begins Thursday with the general sale starting Oct. 19.
Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, email@example.com or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.