ELTON JOHN rocked the riverside on the opening night of this year’s Henley Festival on Wednesday.
The 69-year-old pop star thrilled the 7,000 capacity crowd as he performed many of his smash hits, including Rocket Man, Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting and Candle in the Wind.
His fans danced and sang along during the spectacular 90-minute show on the “floating” stage.
Dressed in a black jacket decorated with red sequins and his trademark tinted glasses and dangling earring, Sir Elton emerged to deafening screams from the crowd as he opened the set with The Bitch is Back.
The excitement grew as he went on to perform I Guess TThat’s Why They Call It the Blues, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Rocket Man.
Accompanied by his band, including original drummer Nigel Olsson and veteran lead guitarist Davey Johnstone, he also played two songs from his new album, Wonderful Crazy Night and told the crowd: “It’s a bit like this night really.”
He dedicated a rendition of Your Song to a couple in the audience who he said had fixed a problem with his neck earlier in the week.
Sir Elton, who interspersed his songs with fist punches and bows and even climbed on top of his piano at one point, led the crowd in the chorus of Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting before walking off stage to huge applause.
After the fans screamed for an encore, he returned and signed a programme for a woman who had been lifted on to her friend’s shoulders in the front row before going into a solo version of Candle in the Wind.
He finished the set with his Lion King medley of The Circle of Life and Can You Feel the Love Tonight? which were greeted with thunderous applause from the crowd.
Sir Elton said: “You’ve been an amazing audience and thank-you to the people behind us on the Thames as well.” At this, there was a cheer from the dozens of boats on the Thames full of people enjoying the show.
Among the spectators were Sir Elton’s husband David Furnish, comedian David Walliams and TV presenter Alan Titchmarsh.
The only downside to the night was fans arriving late for the show and many coming on to the seated lawn area at the front for which they didn’t have tickets.
It took festival officials and security staff more than half an hour to sort out the problem, whch angered some fans who had paid more for seats in front of the stage.