Elton John opens BST Hyde Park festival with career-spanning set

The 75-year-old performed songs from either end of his half-century as a recording artist.

Elton John performing (Suzan Moore/PA)

By Ryan Hooper, PA

Sir Elton John rolled back the years as the BST Hyde Park festival opened with a career-spanning set from the homegrown chart-topper.

The 75-year-old singer and pianist performed songs from either end of his half-century as a recording artist, with dedications to late collaborators Aretha Franklin and George Michael along the way.

He told the crowd: “We’ve been looking forward to this show for a long time, and it’s finally arrived.”

He was watched throughout from an elevated platform by his young sons, Zachary and Elijah.

Elton John at Hyde Park (Suzan Moore/PA)

Sir Elton’s appearance at the festival – which returned on Friday for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic – came part-way through his marathon Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.

The 300-plus date worldwide run is due to conclude next year and will mark his retirement from touring after 52 years on the road.

He said: “I thank you for all the love, all the kindness you have shown me.

“When I stop next July, I will have so many memories and you’ve all been a part of it.”

He opened Hyde Park with crowd favourite Bennie And The Jets before a setlist of more than 20 songs from his collection, including the likes of Rocket Man, Tiny Dancer and his first hit, Your Song, from 1970.

The crowd watching Elton John (Suzan Moore/PA)

He also played a stripped-back rendition of Candle In The Wind, which was rerecorded in 1997 to mark the death of his friend, Diana, Princess of Wales, and whose memorial fountain stands in Hyde Park.

His encore included Cold Heart (PNAU Remix), the 2021 number one single with Dua Lipa.

Sir Elton said: “I’m 75 years of age, it feels so good to have a number one around the world.”

The set concluded with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

Sir Elton will be followed at BST Hyde Park this weekend by the Rolling Stones on Saturday, and the Eagles on Sunday.

Adele, Pearl Jam and Duran Duran are also due to headline the festival, sponsored by American Express, this summer.