British singer-songwriter Elton John made his first and last appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival on Saturday, delivering a slick and energetic performance that ended with a message of tolerance and love.
“I’ve wanted to play this festival for years and years. I’ve watched it on DVD and television. I never thought I would be playing it, but it is an honour to be here,” the 72-year-old told a sell-out outdoor crowd of 15,000 who braved a heatwave.
The five-time Grammy winner performed at La Saussaz stadium overlooking Lake Geneva, rather than the famed Stravinski Auditorium, an intimate venue renowned for its acoustics, where he was initially booked for two nights when the farewell tour was first announced.
It was the first-ever open-air concert at the Montreux Jazz Festivalexternal link, called the “Rolls-Royce of festivals” by former co-director Quincy Jones.
Sting on Friday opened the 53rd edition of the festival which runs through July 13. Its eclectic line-up includes Janet Jackson, Chick Corea and Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke.
‘Sick to death’
John said on Friday he was deeply upset by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comment that liberal values were “obsolete” and had been rejected by the majority of people in Western nations.
John, who is gay, accused Putin of hypocrisy for saying in the same interview that he wanted LGBT people to be happy. Russia has reportedly censored gay scenes in the film “Rocketman” based on his life.
“I am sick to death of hatred, of racism and homophobia,” John told fans. “I am sick to death of people who claim to be religious and close to God and are far from God. We should appreciate each other. We need to embrace everyone even if we do not agree with each other.”
Fans paid CHF185-CHF450 ($190-$460) for the show.