Elton John brings sparkle, color, and emotion to Barcelona in farewell tour

Rock legend delighted fans in 2.5-hour gig featuring hits from numerous decades

Elton John performs in Barcelona's Palau Sant Jordi
Elton John performs in Barcelona's Palau Sant Jordi / Palau Sant Jordi twitter account
Cillian Shields

Cillian Shields | @pile_of_eggs | Barcelona

May 22, 2023 11:40 PM

May 22, 2023 11:45 PM

It was a night of sparkle, color, and emotion at the Palau Sant Jordi, as fans got to experience Elton John's farewell performance three years after the gig was originally scheduled. The pandemic and surgery following hip injury delayed what was ultimately a momentous night in Barcelona for one of the greatest showmen in entertainment in the past half century. 

The 76-year-old rock legend performed around 20 songs in a concert that spanned nearly two-and-a-half hours, including many of his most beloved hits from a career spanning across six different decades. 

Dozens of fans throughout the venue wore novelty glasses that flashed with red and blue lights, emulating the shiny attire the iconic singer is known for. Elton John himself, as it could be no other way, brought his signature sparkle to the night with a glittery silver trim on his black suit and a gleaming pale pink shirt underneath, matching his pink glasses which also had the signature sparkles. A change of clothes halfway through the performance let him show off a light grey suit with even more extravagant sleeve cuffs, accompanied this time by a black pair of glasses featuring deep blue shiny shimmers. 

The Palau Sant Jordi is a seated venue but most fans in the first ten or so rows were kept on their feet for the first handful of tracks, too enthralled to contain their excitement to the confines of their seat. 

The rest of the crowd didn't need much of an excuse to show their adoration, rising to their feet at almost every chance they got, greeting each break between tracks with another ovation. At times too, Elton John himself even took a moment to bask in the wave of roars, even gauding the crowd into cheering more. 

During Someone Saved My Life Tonight, one woman in the front row emotionally sang every word putting her entire body into the moment, raising her arms higher to the lyrics "butterflies are free to fly, fly away, high away." She was certainly not the only one in the audience clearly emotionally moved by the experience, but she was standing alone just meters away from Elton for what appeared to be one of her favorite songs. 

In the second half of the show, the concept of the seating plan was largely thrown out of the window in the zone closest to the stage, with dozens of people crowding in front of the first row, duly obliging Elton's commands to dance

It was an emotional night for the fans that eagerly waited so many years for this night. Catalan News spoke to come concert-goers prior to the show and all wanted to reiterate how excited they were at finally being able to enjoy this night.

Rubén and Sara, a father and daughter originally from Asturias but living in Mallorca, had tickets for the original show in 2020 but traveled to the Catalan capital to be at the Palau Sant Jordi. For Sara, whose favorite Elton John track is Your Song, it was her first time getting to see one of her biggest icons live in person. 


Andreu, from Barcelona, was so excited for the show that he came to the gig with special alterations made to his own glasses. For the occasion, he added plastic diamantes to the rim of his spectacles to pay his own homage to the legendary rocketman. 

Audiovisual delight

From the beginning, the concert was an audiovisual delight, with videos and graphics being paired with the music the six-piece band played. The evening opened with powerfully high-definition images of colorful flowers that could have easily made for an advertisement for the latest line of televisions boasting new technology in their screen displays. 

Other moments saw a cartoon Elton John being pinballed around a fantasy world, footage of despondent folk looking aimless as they moved through the suburbs of a city on America's west coast, and images of various civil rights activists of the 20th century being superimposed onto the shirts of solemn-looking young people. 

One of the most special moments of the night was the performance of Rocket Man, which featured a lengthy breakdown to finish the track, each musician contributing to a visceral tapestry of sound topped off by a virtuoso performance from Elton John on the piano.

The performance was impressive from the very beginning, with an audiovisual display on the screen and over the speakers before the song began that was designed to make the audience feel like they themselves were launching into space

Accompanying the song itself then were a series of gorgeous blue and pink cosmic nebula over a backdrop of the stars scattered throughout space, mirrored by the audience in Palau Sant Jordi holding up their phone torches creating a space-like atmosphere in the venue. 

After the song, Elton John stood up from the piano for the first time in the night to greet the fans and gesture for more screams and noise from each side of the arena. 

I'm Still Standing was another crowd favorite in Barcelona, with thousands of people instantaneously rising to their feet upon hearing the first notes play. 

Yet, there was also a touch of poignancy to this track, as the screens behind the band showed footage of Elton John's cultural legacy throughout the decades, from various television and film appearances to past gigs, and the moment served as another untimely reminder that the man who these thousands of people were so excited to see was in the middle of his farewell tour; this week would be the last chance people have to see Elton John performing in Catalonia. 

The band closed with Saturday Night's All Right (For Fighting), spectacularly topped off with a confetti bomb before Elton John came out in a dressing gown for an encore of his duet with Dua Lipa, Cold Heart, Your Song, and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

Elton finished off the evening thanking his fans for their support in what he said was his 306th concert of this tour, which began in 2018, his 10th concert in Barcelona, and 44th in Spain. "Thank you for the love, the loyalty, I will never ever forget you, you are in my heart. God bless Barcelona."