By Katarzyna Bugaj
5th July 2023: I packed my bags last night pre-flight. For the very last time.
On that day I left Warsaw for the last time to follow Elton. The first stop was Copenhagen – where Elton said goodbye to the Danish audience at the Royal Arena.
I don’t know why but I had the feeling that the show in Copenhagen was over very quickly. Elton, as usual, gave his best although I think he was a little tired. You could see the fatigue on his face and he had less energy than always. It is hardly surprising – anyone would be tired after such an intense tour! I wondered if Elton would refer to the album Sleeping with the Past which was recorded in Denmark but he didn’t.
I saw the whole Johnstone family. Davey’s wife, Kay, is Danish, so it was obvious that many of their friends and family were at the show. I noticed Davey’s wife had a great time and looked very happy. I also received a nice gift from the wife of one of the crew members – Davey’s guitar pick. She had flown in with her family from California for Elton’s last shows. A lot of people at the show came up to me and said they liked my handmade jacket with “Elton John” on it. The show in Denmark was emotional for me because I then realised that Elton’s last tour was really coming to an end. My only regret is that the wind took my set list when I was coming back from the show 🙂
After a short rest, me and my mother continued our journey – to Stockholm. It wasn’t without adventures as I hadn’t checked the bus connections to the train station properly and we had to look for a taxi in the middle of the night. Luckily, we made it in time for the train and after 6 hours we arrived in Stockholm. On the train I watched the documentary from July 8th, 1971 about Elton John and his band (Nigel Olsson and Dee Murray) when they were in Stockholm to perform at the Gröna Lund amusement park. It is an amazing coincidence that 52 years later, on the same day Elton ended his career here.
During my stay in Stockholm, I encountered various ‘signs’ related to Elton. On my first day, returning from a walk around the city, I saw butterfly-shaped decorations which immediately made me think of a passage from one song:
You’re a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away, bye bye…
Later, while exploring the old town, I heard Elton’s voice. I immediately started looking for its source. It turned out that Elton’s songs were playing in one of the pubs, includingAre you ready for love and Believe. I stopped there and listened until the end.
A short time later, I saw a photo of Elton from the 80s on an optical shop window.
When I got to the venue, Tele2 Arena, I saw a big sign saying “Farewell Elton! Thank you for all your wonderful music. We will miss you!”.
For Elton’s penultimate show I decided to take my mother who had accompanied me to one of the 3 shows at Dodger Stadium. I said to her: “You saw Elton for the last time in America, now you’ll see him for the last time in Europe”.
Even though she’s not a fan and didn’t have a seat next to me, she had a good time and was surprised that I have so many friends among the fans and that people love Elton so much.
At the end she stated: “You are like one big family.”
My mother was right – my fan friends are like my family. My chosen family. I completely agree with the words of the song Elton sang in duet with Rina Sawayama: “We don’t need to be related to relate”.
Before the show I met my friends from different countries. They all seemed to not quite believe that tomorrow would be the last day we would see our idol live. My friends from Germany, Ralf and Nadine, made a beautiful poster saying that Elton and the band will forever be in our hearts. My friend from Elton’s crew gave me 2 guitar picks that I didn’t have in my collection yet. It was a nice surprise but at the same time I was sad because I knew we wouldn’t see each other for a long time. That evening I saw Elton’s husband, David Furnish, and their friends: David Walliams and Elizabeth Hurley with her son Damian (who is Elton’s godson). They were all shown on the big screen at one point.
Punctually at 8 pm, I heard Turn around and say good morning to the night and just moments later our wonderful Rocketman appeared on stage. I love the moment when he takes the stage! Then for 2.5 hours I forgot about the whole world. I had the best seat in the house, in front of Elton. Elton was in a great mood that evening. He was making faces at me and we made eye contact several times. It was an unforgettable evening, full of emotions. I knew the next day would be even more exciting…