LOS ANGELES – You have to love Elton John’s idea of a sizzle reel.
As shown on an enormous screen Tuesday night at Staples Center, where the veteran pop star was playing the first local date on a world tour he says will be his last, the carefully edited video package synchronized John’s performance of his song “I’m Still Standing” to highlights from his half-century-long career.
We saw him accepting an Academy Award. We saw him onstage in his famously bedazzled Dodgers uniform. And we saw that time a few years ago when he tried to sit down at a tennis match – then immediately tumbled out of his chair.
“Looking like a true survivor,” he sang, before adding, “Feeling like a little kid.”
John’s inclusion of the embarrassing moment was in keeping with the sense of humor that’s always distinguished the singer’s work.
It was especially welcome, though, at this show, which might’ve been a far more pompous affair. John’s tour – called Farewell Yellow Brick Road after the smash 1973 album with which it almost shares a title – launched last year and is scheduled to run through the end of 2020; its marketing material refers to John’s having “redefined the cultural landscape” and his readiness to “fully embrace the next important chapter of [his] life.”
But if you walked in fearing a self-congratulating slog – can you tell I was worried? – that’s not what John had in mind.
Over a breezy 2 1/2 hours, the 71-year-old zipped through two-dozen hits (and a couple of oddities); told some funny, well-rehearsed stories about his ambitions and achievements; and changed costumes only frequently enough to suggest he won’t be spending his retirement wearing sweatpants