Elton John says farewell to State College with sold-out show

Elton John sings “Bennie and the Jets” Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center, where the singer stopped on his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour.
Elton John sings “Bennie and the Jets” Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center, where the singer stopped on his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour. adrey@centredaily.com

If you missed seeing Elton John at the Bryce Jordan Center Sunday night, you likely missed your last chance to see the legendary performer in Centre County.

The BJC was among the first stops on John’s epic “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour, which kicked off in Allentown on Sept. 8.

“This is the fourth out of five shows in Pennsylvania, it’s a great place to start,” John told a roaring crowd Sunday after opening with “Bennie and the Jets” and “All the Girls Love Alice.”

Fans cheer as Elton John takes the Bryce Jordan Center stage Sunday for his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

The 71-year-old artist has been touring for more than half a century and plans to say thank you and goodbye to his fans across the world with a tour lasting until 2021. According to his website, the tour includes more than 300 shows, spanning North America, Europe and the Middle East, Asia, South America and Australia.

State College natives Lindsey Albright and Amanda McElhinney didn’t want to miss the chance to see John’s goodbye. They were dressed head to toe in John gear, including his signature glasses.

“Isn’t everyone just born an Elton John fan?” Albright said before the concert. “It’s just wholesome music — there is a song for every emotion.”

Like many others attending the quickly sold-out show, the pair got tickets the day they went on sale at the BJC. McElhinney got up at 5 a.m. during a snowstorm and waited in line for five hours to snag the seats.

Albright’s cousin, Brandon Hall, was also with them for the show. He said he’s been a fan since he watched John perform at Princess Diana’s funeral.

“When I was little my nanny used to take me to Goodwill and I would search through record bins to find Elton John albums,” he said. “I had one with a lyric book so I would record myself singing his songs and give them to my nanny to listen to.”

Sylvia Brown and her fiancé, Eric Smith, traveled from Maryland for the show. Smith purchased the tickets as a Valentine’s Day present for Brown.

“It feels amazing to be a part of this history, he is a true icon,” Brown said.

This was John’s fourth time visiting the BJC. For his final time, he had no opener or special guest — it was just John, his piano and his record breaking music. He started the show at about 8:05 p.m., walking on to the stage wearing electric blue bedazzled glasses and a silver suit covered in sparkles and rhinestones. He took a seat at the piano and got right into the hits.

Elton John opens his show with “Bennie and the Jets” Sunday during his stop at the Bryce Jordan Center for part of his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour. Abby Drey adrey@centredaily.com

“His music means everything to us,” fan Lori Voories said before the show. “I can’t remember a time when he wasn’t in my life.”

With his retirement from touring, John has said he wants to dedicate more of his time to his family and prioritize raising his two children with husband David Furnish.

“It’s time to come off the road so I can fully embrace the next important chapter of my life,” he said on his website.

The next stop on John’s tour is Hartford, Conn., and he’ll perform in Washington, D.C., New York and Massachusetts before heading back to Pennsylvania for an Oct. 10 show in Pittsburgh.