John’s true final performance in the United States, a curious and minor episode of his grand farewell, came Tuesday night as the surprise guest performer at Saks Fifth Avenue, briefly halting traffic at one of America’s busiest commercial stretches to open the Christmas shopping season. Its annual unveiling of holiday windows and light displays. It’s not the usual way the 75-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer hopes to follow up the end of the 271 shows he began planning seven years ago.
But Sachs is donating $1 million to the Elton John AIDS Foundation. He and his family — his husband, David Furnish, and their two sons, Zachary, 11, and Elijah, 9 — were already on their way east to return to London. So, why not?
“I can’t think of a more magical way to experience both my music and my work with the new Elton John AIDS Foundation than by being on Fifth Avenue with my family to end my farewell Yellow Brick Road tour of the United States. York’s most iconic holiday window displays and light shows,” John said in a perfect quote to Saks PR, who was kind enough to provide it to The Washington Post.
Furnish called it “the cherry on top of an incredibly beautiful cake” and “very special” in a phone interview. The whole point of doing it is because it’s “an opportunity for EJAF,” said Furnish, who is also chairman of the foundation’s board and John’s manager. But, as a bonus, “it’s going to kick off our family Christmas, which is wonderful,” he said.
As the hour drew to a close, police blocked off Fifth Avenue between 50th and 49th streets outside Saks’ flagship store. A throng of tourists, mostly in town for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, rushed into the void of traffic, anxious to get a better look, John with no clue he was going, and behind them a stream of honking buses and taxis and pedicabs.
At exactly 7 p.m., a crew rushed to wheel a piano onto the sidewalk, and two minutes later, John made his grand entrance in a green jacket with red track pants, riding in a golf cart adorned with large, sparkling stars. Shaking and kissing. He thanked Sachs, and David and the kids joined him on stage for the countdown, Then launched into a heartfelt rendition of “Your Song.”
And only “Your Song”.
“It’s one of those songs because we can’t shut down Fifth Avenue for too long or we’ll have a lot of angry New Yorkers,” Furnish said with a laugh. “Your Song” was John’s choice because it was his first hit in America (and two minutes shorter than “Little Dancer”).
John didn’t have time to applaud before he raced with his family (as best he could while recovering from hip surgery). The front of Saks erupted with the light show, which was designed to look like a tree and lit up to a medley of his dance club hit “Cold Heart (Pnau Remix)” with Dua Lipa. Then the windows came to life, including one that looked like a Light Brite and another with rockets going up and down on pistons in tribute to John.
There were fireworks! And then it’s over. John walked down the street and went into the store with some pictures. The whole thing took 15 minutes, and ended with a police officer yelling at the stranded photographers and visitors. Get off the street already So a city bus can come.
Elton John’s North American concerts may be done, but he still has a lot of shows ahead of him. His farewell tour – two years behind schedule after being delayed by Covid and his 2021 hip surgery – paused for a month before arriving in January for a string of dates in Australia and New Zealand, then the UK and Europe. He finally hung up his shiny captain’s cap on July 3 in Stockholm.
“I’ve done this video so many times,” Miley Cyrus joked in a tribute to John. that Los Angeles played in the bye. Furnish knows people are suspicious, so he wants to be completely clear. “Of course, he’ll never tour again,” he said. “Those days are over, he’s drawn the curtain on that. He’s done.”
John will be 76 by the end of the tour, and as much as he loves his fans and performing live, Furnish said, “He found touring really hard and being away from his family incredibly hard. And, you know, our boys are 10 and 12 and they’re getting to the age where we feel like they need us more than ever.
The pair have spent the past few days reflecting more on what it means to them to be together and to appear in public as a loving unit, Furnish said. John didn’t mention it from the stage, but his last Dodgers show was the night after the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, where a gunman killed six people inside a gay venue, the latest attack on the LGBTQ community. “It was deeply, deeply depressing and deeply distressing,” Furnish said.
“You know, on the one hand, Elton can get an incredibly warm response from everyone in the audience to bring his husband and his two sons on stage,” Furnish continued. “It went out live streaming around the world. And in other parts of the world homosexuality is promoted and homosexuality is seen as a way of life rather than something completely natural and normal for people.
Both of them are more committed to the mission of the Colorado Springs Shooting, AIDS Foundation’s Rocket Fund, which helps eliminate the stigma around AIDS. “People who are afraid to get an AIDS test, afraid to take their medication, afraid to openly discuss or disclose their status for fear of being accused based on their sexuality,” Furnish said. That’s why he opens the door for John to do charity work in the future.
Over the weekend in Los Angeles, John revisited his landmark 1975 shows when he was arguably the biggest pop star in the world. He was also an addict and came out as bisexual, not openly gay. In 1984, he married a woman named Renate Blauel and divorced her four years later. The first shows were “hard for me because I wasn’t in a very good place mentally and physically,” John said in a video that played before the show.
Now he is 32 years sober. He has been with Furnish for 29 years. When asked what he misses about traveling as part of the Disney special, he said, “Nothing. I’ve been doing it since I was 17 in the back of a van with my first band.
Furnish said he is excited for a new chapter. “Can he do it once in a while? Can he do something like a theater residency? Maybe, maybe not. He has not completely closed the door to acting. ” Furnish mentioned Kate Bush’s 22 shows at a London theater in 2014 as a potential plan, and said John was interested in digging into his catalog and playing lesser-known songs.
But the door is closed on one kind of performance. “He doesn’t live in Vegas. That’s off the table,” Furnish said. Meanwhile, sometimes he’ll hang out with his kids and spend some time riding bright golf carts in front of Christmas lights.