Elton John AAMI Park Concert
Elton John AAMI Park Concert

Does a farewell tour really mean anything anymore?

For musicians of a certain age, the term 'farewell tour' has gone from a licence to print money to a phrase that automatically makes audiences groan.

A final goodbye concert should provoke the kind of emotion that sees fans seize their credit cards. However in the last few years we've seen the farewell tour debased to the point where it's almost meaningless.

Elton John is on the last leg of his three month Farewell Yellow Brick Road Australian tour.

At each show he's told audiences that, at 72, he is quitting touring to spend quality time with his young kids.

"I need to be with them and they need to be with me," John told fans at his show in Melbourne on Saturday. "It gives me something else to look forward to in the last part of my life. I will never give music up, but I will never be touring again after 2021."

Elton has already signposted that he's up for future residencies (such as in Vegas or London) that are more family-friendly than spending months on the road.

So not exactly a farewell then, after all.

Elton John has said he has no plans to tour again, but is open to a residency. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
Elton John has said he has no plans to tour again, but is open to a residency. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

This habit of announcing retirement only to get bored and get back to work - or to make enough money to pay off a hefty divorce settlement, legal bill or renovate that mansion they bought in retirement - has become an annoyingly regular occurrence in recent years.

Suzi Quatro's did it in 2014, when after undertaking her farewell tour, told interviewers she thought, "What have I done?"

Cher routinely takes the piss out of the fact that her most recent shows were "her second farewell tour".

The Eagles even used the term Farewell Tour 1, while Phil Collins followed his First Farewell Tour with the Not Dead Yet tour.

Everyone from LCD Soundsystem to Ozzy Osbourne have gone back on their word after selling tickets to so-called farewell tours.

John Farnham - who people love to joke about - is now on his umpteenth comeback tour. But given he's selling as many tickets now as he was in the 90s - to people who were only just being born in the 90s - why stop?

But it's Motley Crue who have officially ruined the farewell tour for everyone.

After promising to never tour again, Motley Crue is set to hit the road again. Picture: Mark Weiss
After promising to never tour again, Motley Crue is set to hit the road again. Picture: Mark Weiss

After years of seeing groups renege on farewell tours, the band held a press conference where they went so far as to sign a contract stating they'd never get back together. Fans bought it - and tickets - a million of them on that 2015 tour that grossed over $100 million.

"There is no amount of money that would ever make me do it again because I have such pride in how we're ending it," Nikki Sixx said at the time.

But one Netflix special on the band later, and suddenly the Crue are backtracking on their contract and are set to share a stage again later this year.

The band explained the decision by saying that "the contract is off the table because a whole new generation of Crueheads are relentlessly demanding the band come back together."

In other words, nothing bumps your price up like splitting and getting back together. Which is a hard pill to swallow if you're a fan who paid big bucks to attend their original farewell show in 2015.

While it's nice for artists to go out on their own terms while they can still cut it live (Elton John is a great case in point), there's something to be said for sticking true to your word.

Clearly, though, nostalgia is a lucrative thing when it comes to touring, which means that sometimes goodbye doesn't translate to a farewell forever.

Cameron Adams is a national music correspondent.



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