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Elton John at First Direct Arena Leeds – tickets, setlist, support act and more

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Elton John is set to touch down in Leeds tonight as the legendary musician continues his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.

Elton has just played 10 (yes TEN) shows at the O2 in London, and now he’s heading up north.

He’ll be doing one huge shows at the First Direct Arena as part of this tour, his final ever.

It’s all ahead of his headline performance at Glastonbury too. We all knew Elton John wasn’t going to retire without a fanfare, come on…

His unparalleled career spans six decades, five Grammy Awards, and a frankly unbelievable 31 studio albums.

His massive hits include Rocket Man, Saturday Night’s Alright (for Fighting), I’m Still Standing, and Candle In The Wind, which became the fastest- and biggest-selling single of all time after he performed it at Princess Diana’s funeral.

He was also the subject of the award-winning 2019 film Rocketman, starring Taron Egerton.

The tour has had to be rescheduled a couple of times but it is finally here. Here’s everything you need to know if you’re seeing Elton John in Leeds tonight.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Elton John (@eltonjohn)

When is Elton John performing in Leeds?

Elton is in town for one night and one night only, he’ll be performing on Tuesday 6 June 2023.

Tickets for Elton John at First Direct Arena

Unbelievably, there are still a few tickets left for Elton John.

However, they’re most definitely not cheap and are labelled as ‘official platinum seats’ meaning you’ll get a very good view.

Prices start at £246 each and end at £341 each (ouch).

Check the latest availability at  Ticketmaster .

Who is supporting Elton John in Leeds?

No one. He’s doing this one solo – to be fair, he’s got enough hits to fill a few hours…

Stage times

Despite the lack of support act, ticket-holders for Elton John are in for a long old night of live music.

The iconic singer is going to fill almost three hours with his hits.

Here are the expected stage times.

  • Doors open – 6pm
  • Show starts – 7.30pm
  • Show finishes – 10.15pm

Elton John’s expected setlist and songs

Elton John performing in 1972

Based on his most recent show in Belgium, here are the songs you can expect to hear.

Bennie and the Jets Philadelphia Freedom I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues Border Song Tiny Dancer Have Mercy on the Criminal Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time) Take Me to the Pilot Someone Saved My Life Tonight Levon Candle in the Wind Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding Burn Down the Mission Sad Songs (Say So Much) Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me The Bitch Is Back I’m Still Standing Crocodile Rock Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting Encore: Cold Heart Your Song Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Read more: Lewis Capaldi pulls out of upcoming gigs – including intimate Leeds show

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  • June 6, 2023 Setlist

Elton John Setlist at First Direct Arena, Leeds, England

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Tour: Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour Tour statistics Add setlist

  • Bennie and the Jets Play Video
  • Philadelphia Freedom Play Video
  • I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues Play Video
  • Border Song Play Video
  • Tiny Dancer Play Video
  • Have Mercy on the Criminal Play Video
  • Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time) Play Video
  • Take Me to the Pilot Play Video
  • Someone Saved My Life Tonight Play Video
  • Levon Play Video
  • Candle in the Wind Play Video
  • Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding Play Video
  • Burn Down the Mission Play Video
  • Sad Songs (Say So Much) Play Video
  • Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word Play Video
  • Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me Play Video
  • The Bitch Is Back Play Video
  • I'm Still Standing Play Video
  • Crocodile Rock Play Video
  • Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting Play Video
  • Cold Heart Play Video
  • Your Song Play Video
  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Play Video

Edits and Comments

4 activities (last edit by WingedThanatos , 7 Jun 2023, 20:56 Etc/UTC )

Songs on Albums

  • Bennie and the Jets
  • Candle in the Wind
  • Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  • Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting
  • Border Song
  • Take Me to the Pilot
  • Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me
  • The Bitch Is Back
  • Crocodile Rock
  • Have Mercy on the Criminal
  • Tiny Dancer
  • I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues
  • I'm Still Standing
  • Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word
  • Sad Songs (Say So Much)
  • Someone Saved My Life Tonight
  • Philadelphia Freedom
  • Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
  • Burn Down the Mission

Complete Album stats

Elton John setlists

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Elton john gig timeline.

  • Jun 02 2023 AO Arena Manchester, England Start time: 7:30 PM 7:30 PM
  • Jun 03 2023 AO Arena Manchester, England Start time: 7:30 PM 7:30 PM
  • Jun 06 2023 First Direct Arena This Setlist Leeds, England Start time: 7:35 PM 7:35 PM
  • Jun 08 2023 Utilita Arena Birmingham Birmingham, England Start time: 7:30 PM 7:30 PM
  • Jun 10 2023 Utilita Arena Birmingham Birmingham, England Start time: 7:35 PM 7:35 PM

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<div style="text-align: center;" class="setlistImage"><a href="https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/elton-john/2023/first-direct-arena-leeds-england-3ba69840.html" title="Elton John Setlist First Direct Arena, Leeds, England 2023, Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour" target="_blank"><img src="https://www.setlist.fm/widgets/setlist-image-v1?id=3ba69840" alt="Elton John Setlist First Direct Arena, Leeds, England 2023, Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour" style="border: 0;" /></a> <div><a href="https://www.setlist.fm/edit?setlist=3ba69840&amp;step=song">Edit this setlist</a> | <a href="https://www.setlist.fm/setlists/elton-john-63d6be6f.html">More Elton John setlists</a></div></div>

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[url=https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/elton-john/2023/first-direct-arena-leeds-england-3ba69840.html][img]https://www.setlist.fm/widgets/setlist-image-v1?id=3ba69840[/img][/url] [url=https://www.setlist.fm/edit?setlist=3ba69840&amp;step=song]Edit this setlist[/url] | [url=https://www.setlist.fm/setlists/elton-john-63d6be6f.html]More Elton John setlists[/url]

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Tuesday 06 June 2023

Elton John live

Discover more in Leeds

Clay Pit Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS2 8AR Leeds, UK 08442481585 www.firstdirectarena.com/

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Additional details.

Doors open: 19:30

Tour name: Farewell Yellow Brick Road

Rescheduled show from: December 7, 2020 November 5, 2021

Original tickets will be valid for the new date.

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  • Rocket Club

JULY 9, 2023

The Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour

Having toured relentlessly since 1970, playing almost 4,600 shows in 80 countries in the ensuing half a century, elton made the decision in 2017 that it was time to come off the road so he could fully embrace the next important chapter of his life and dedicate more time to his family. the farewell yellow brick road tour subsequently broke records, pushed boundaries and shattered expectations in a five year period of celebratory activity that solidified elton’s status in the very highest echelons of popular culture across the generations..

"It’s time to come off the road so I can fully embrace the next important chapter of my life." Elton John

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From Allentown, Philadelphia on 8 September 2018

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Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium

Watch Elton's iconic Dodger show and final North American tour show on Disney+

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"After the tour finishes, I’m very much looking forward to closing off that chapter of my life by saying farewell to life on the road. I need to dedicate more time to raising my children." Elton John

Whilst the end of one chapter, it is the beginning of the next. Join the Rocket Club to stay up-to-date with all the latest from Elton John with regular news and exclusive offers regularly landing in your inbox.

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Watch Sir Elton John stop Leeds farewell show to pay emotional tribute to blind little boy on the front row

Sir Elton John brought his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour to Leeds First Direct Arena on Tuesday evening

  • 09:58, 7 JUN 2023
  • Updated 11:02, 7 JUN 2023

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Sir Elton John stopped his farewell show in Leeds to pay tribute to a blind child in the front row.

On Tuesday evening, Sir Elton John , 76, brought his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour to Leeds First Direct Arena . In an evening packed with hits including Your Song, I’m Still Standing and Tiny Dancer, among others, there were a number of touching moments away from the music.

Undeniably, the most emotional was when the legend stopped proceedings to honour a little blind boy in the front row. As seen in the video accompanying this article, Sir Elton said: “There’s a little boy in the front row. He can’t see me but he can hear me and he just broke my heart all night.”

Read more: First acts announced for Live at Leeds: In The City 2023

Lots of cheers and applause followed for the child who was shown on the venue’s big screens. Sir Elton continued: “You are so special and you made me feel so great tonight. I tell you what, we are going to get your telephone number and I’ll keep in touch with you.”

The icon’s farewell tour has featured Sir Elton playing over 300 concerts as part of the schedule. He confirmed to fans Tuesday evening was his last appearance on stage in Leeds - having previously officially launched the city's arena 10-years-ago.

Sir Elton said: “Thank you for so many years of love and loyalty. It is amazing, as you know, this is my last tour but it has been such a wonderful occasion as you’ve shown me more kindness on this tour than I can ever remember."

He added: “I want to thank you and send you all the love you deserve. To the great city and to the great county.”

Tell us who you'd like to see do a secret Leeds Festival set by voting below

Other fans down the front received tributes from the performer. Sir Elton said: “I want to thank the people who have been coming to so many shows. There’s Steve who has come to 93 shows and 101 shows also down here - unbelievable.

“Thank you for dressing up, I can see you guys over there with the big glasses and feathers. It makes me so happy.”

You will be able to find a full review of Sir Elton’s incredible farewell performance in Leeds on our homepage .

To find out the latest event news in our city you can visit our Best in Leeds homepage . There you will also find a guide to great things to do in Leeds .

Yorkshire Live has launched Explore Yorkshire, which will look at Yorkshire's unique identity and destinations and celebrate God's Own County for what it is - the best place in the world. Whether you are looking for a day out, a weekend away or to try somewhere new, Explore Yorkshire is here to help. Our brilliant new newsletter will bring all of this content together for you in one place - sign up here to get it direct to your inbox .

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Elton John at the Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour

Paul Bradshaw / 7 June 2023

Elton John waves goodbye to Leeds 

Elton’s final farewell tour leaves us with an epic two-and-a-half-hour reminder of just how far the Rocketman has flown

At the end of the night, Elton John took off his diamanté dressing gown, boarded a glass stairlift, and rose magically into the sky above the stage. Disappearing behind a screen with a final wave, anyone with a seat high enough in the First Direct Arena caught one more glimpse of him: awkwardly running into a limo waiting backstage, speeding away to beat the city traffic.

As goodbyes go, they don’t get much more grand, absurd or emotional. This is the last time Elton John is playing Leeds. We’ll either remember him transcending into a digital heaven or rushing back to his palace to prepare for Glastonbury. Here, though, John’s peerless legacy spans both – a man hosting his own five-year send-off party with the highest-grossing tour of all time; a way of cementing his place in history as well as a reminder of just how hard-working he still really is. 

Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Live From Dodger Stadium, USA / 2022)

First booked to play Leeds in 2018, John arrives now five years too late on a wave of good feeling. Playing what feels like a two-and-a-half-hour encore, John has an arena full of feather boas and novelty glasses in his hand from the first beat of ‘Bennie And The Jets’. Not swaying too far from the same setlist he’s been playing throughout the 315 other dates on the  Farewell Yellow Brick Road  tour, the evening feels less like a gig and more like a live musical biopic – even ending with a rolling set of film credits to thank the crew. 

Playing to a video backdrop that moves through his whole life and career (old family photos, the ’75 Dodgers Stadium show, a guest spot on The Simpsons , Taron Edgerton in  Rocketman …), John cherry picks the best bits of an impossibly impressive career partnership with writer Bernie Taupin. Hearing songs like ‘Tiny Dancer’ and ‘Rocket Man’ played live is some kind of magic, and a flawless decade-spanning setlist is another reminder of just how elemental John’s music feels to music history – a second Great American Songbook written by two English blokes with a rare talent for rock’n’roll.

As polished as it all is, the real highlights come when John cuts loose. A long honky-tonk jazz piano outro on ‘Rocket Man’ comes first, then a southern folk jam session on ‘Have Mercy On The Criminal’, ‘Levon’ and ‘Burn Down The Mission’. Now sat at a moving piano that drifts mechanically, oddly, around the huge stage, John suddenly looks like he’s in his 20s again; freewheeling through the best of  Tumbleweed Connection ,  Honky Château  and  Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player . 

Two hours in, people are getting worried that he might run out of time to play the other half dozen hits that are surely non-negotiable. This, though, is the farewell tour – and John’s not leaving anything on the table. A defiant ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’ queues up a four-shot of party tracks that he hammers so hard his glasses actually fall off: ‘The Bitch Is Back’, ‘I’m Still Standing’, ‘Crocodile Rock’ and ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’. 

Eventually, though, the great glass chairlift beckons. Promising to stay in touch with a blind child in the front row, thanking one guy who’s now been to see him live 101 times, John mounts the crane and starts ascending. ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ has never felt this emotional. 

Elton John continues his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour in the UK until June 18. Find Elton John tickets here.

Photo credit: Simone Joyner / Getty

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Elton John - 'Farewell Yellow Brick Road' VIP Package - Leeds 06 June 2023

Elton John Tour 2019-20 Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour Official VIP Tickets

‘ FAREWELL YELLOW BRICK ROAD’ VIP EXPERIENCE (VIP1)

• One Incredible Top Priced Reserved Floor Ticket in the First Five (5) Rows (Block D) * • Memories to Last a Lifetime **    - Champagne Toast & Welcome Gift Upon Arrival ***    - Exclusive “Behind the Scenes” Escorted VIP Backstage Tour    - Unforgettable On-Stage VIP Photo Opportunity at Elton John’s Piano • On-Site VIP Perks    - VIP Priority Check-In    - Separate VIP Entrance    - Crowd-Free VIP Merchandise Shopping Opportunity • Limited Edition Elton John Tour Lithograph    - Limited Edition Tour Lithograph Based Upon Original Elton John Artwork    - All Limited Edition Lithographs Printed on Fine Art Paper & Include a Certificate of Authenticity • The Essential Elton John VIP Gift Bag    - Custom VIP Gift Bag Designed Exclusively for Elton John VIPs    - Includes a Special Collection of Elton John Themed VIP Merchandise    - Each Gift Bag Contains a Commemorative VIP Tour Laminate & Matching Lanyard      *  Venue seating configurations and packages can vary by city.  **   Elton John does not participate in any VIP-related activities. VIP Packages do not include a Meet & Greet        with Elton John. ***   You must be of legal age to consume alcohol; valid identification required for consumption of alcohol.        Additional local restrictions may apply.

Secure your Elton John 'Farewell Yellow Brick Road' Package with a £400 deposit per person! (Balance due 8 weeks before event)

All prices are per person including VAT/Taxes

NB: Reserved seats are sold based on being seated together, unless otherwise stated at time of booking

VIP PACKAGE DISCLAIMER INFORMATION

All sales are final. There are no refunds or exchanges under any circumstances. All packages and package contents are non-transferable. VIP merchandise will be distributed at the show; some exceptions may apply. The artist, tour, promoter, ticketing company, venue or any other affiliated parties are not responsible for outdated or inaccurate information provided by the consumer at the time of purchase. Commemorative VIP laminates are for commemorative purposes only. The VIP laminate does not gain or authorize access into the venue, VIP or any backstage areas.

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From Taylor Swift to Beyonce: How pop music took over football stadiums

Wembley: home to the big one this summer. Thousands descending on the stadium for the event of 2024. A career pinnacle for many of those involved, the stands full and tickets going for thousands.

Also, the Champions League final was held there a few weeks ago.

Wembley may be England’s national stadium, and the self-styled ‘home of football’, but for many others it is most famous as a music venue — and, therefore, the natural choice for the extraordinary phenomenon of Taylor Swift’s ‘Eras’ tour when picking a venue for next week’s concerts in London.

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Swift is not alone. Wembley will also host Bruce Springsteen, Green Day and AC/DC this summer, just some of 14 concerts taking place there in 2024 — more than the scheduled number of football games.

Plenty of other football grounds will get in on the act, too. Tonight, Swift plays the first gig of the English leg of her tour at Anfield, the home of Liverpool and, for many, just as iconic a venue as Wembley.

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Later this summer, Pink, Pearl Jam and Travis Scott all have shows at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Foo Fighters and Burna Boy will take to the stage at the London Stadium in June. Take That played at the City Ground in Nottingham in May, while the Emirates, Old Trafford, St James’ Park and Villa Park have been regular destinations for big artists in the past.

It’s no wonder that the venues are so keen to welcome the world’s biggest musical acts. Depending on the configuration of the stage, you can usually get a few more people in for a concert than a match, tickets might well be more expensive and people can drink for much longer — all good news for the bottom line.

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Tottenham hosted a five-night run of Beyonce concerts in 2023, which they say brought in £5million ($6.4m) profit, just from food and drink and a cut of the merchandise sales. In an era when expensive modern stadiums have to be paid for, these events are baked into the business plan.

But what of the artists? Why might musicians want to play in a venue which is, in theory, built for sport rather than concerts?

Most people will tell you that the Beatles started the phenomenon of pop concerts being played at sports grounds. This is sort of true, but it depends on what you define as a stadium: Elvis Presley, for example, played concerts as early as 1956 at venues also used for basketball and ice hockey, but these were indoor arenas with a more limited capacity.

If we are to define a stadium as a large outdoor arena primarily used for sport, then the Beatles were indeed the first, when they first played at Shea Stadium, the former home of the New York Mets, in 1965. It was an innovation that stemmed from necessity: they were so popular that no indoor venue was big enough, so Shea Stadium it was, even though the sound was terrible and they played on a stage 100 yards away from the actual crowd, most of whom were screaming so loudly that nobody — not least the band — could hear the music.

A few years later, the Festival for Peace was held at Shea, featuring Janis Joplin, Miles Davis, Paul Simon and others. After that, huge sports stadiums became a status symbol for big artists: Springsteen, The Who, Elton John, The Rolling Stones and The Police all played at Shea.

Billy Joel played the last shows there in 2008, joined for one last song by Paul McCartney, before it was demolished to make way for the New York Mets’ new home, Citi Field, which has continued the legacy. McCartney played the first show there in 2009, and this year, Blink-182 and Def Leppard will follow in his footsteps.

These things are always slightly tricky to pin down, but the first pop concert to be held at a football stadium in the UK is thought to be an Oxfam charity show in 1969 at Wembley, featuring Status Quo, Yes and Love Affair. From then, the national stadium became a regular stop for the world’s biggest acts as they passed through the UK, including Michael Jackson (15 times, no less), Madonna, Wham! and Queen, the latter having been one of the star acts at Live Aid in 1985. When Freddie Mercury died in 1991, Wembley was the natural place for his tribute concert.

The main reason an artist might choose a stadium over a more purpose-built arena is relatively simple: scale. The biggest indoor arena in the UK is the newly-opened Co-op Live arena in Manchester, which holds around 23,500 people. You can get twice that into even a relatively modest football ground, which is good news in terms of kudos and revenue for the artist — not just because there are more people, but it’s clearly much more efficient to play to 50,000 people in one night rather than 12,000 over four.

Plus, there’s greater scope for bigger and more elaborate sets. Try getting U2’s stage from their ‘360 Degree’ tour in 2009, which cost a reported $31million and featured a giant four-legged structure they called ‘The Claw’, into a standard arena.

The presence of at least one 40,000-plus capacity stadium within a couple of hours’ drive of most people in the UK also affords artists to play places they might otherwise not have been able to. Beyonce played at the Stadium of Light in 2023, leading to the slightly unexpected sight of the biggest pop star of the last 20 years striding onto the stage and bellowing: “SUNDERLAND. WELCOME. I LOVE YOU.”

When music and football collide

  • ‘Goosebump moments’, Greasy Chip Butties & Ange’s Angels – how clubs soundtrack their victories
  • Sean Dyche and his unlikely role as the star in a music video… yes, really
  • Dortmund’s Adele dressing-room anthem and the power of team singalongs: ‘It is a legal stimulant’
  • Noel Gallagher: Texts from Guardiola, why Neville is a ‘dinosaur’ – and those 115 charges

There’s also a sense that playing at a football stadium is just a little more special for bands. For a start, because you can actually tell where you are, as opposed to doing your thing in one of many glorified aircraft hangers.

“When you do an arena, it’s one date in a string of arenas,” says Ricky Wilson, singer from the Leeds band The Kaiser Chiefs. “You wake up under them on a tour bus, and you could be anywhere. Stadiums are different.”

It’s not all emotion and glamour. The Kaiser Chiefs have played a couple of shows at Elland Road, home of Leeds United, which Wilson remembers fondly but recalls one or two drawbacks.

“If you’re in U2, they probably arrive last minute, come off stage, someone puts a dressing gown on them and they get into a car and are whisked away. But when you play your hometown stadium, there’s a lot of people calling up and saying, ‘I’m at Gate B, talking to a man with a moustache and he doesn’t know where I’m supposed to be going’. I don’t think Bono has to go through that.”

“But you are quite important for a day, which is nice. Usually, when you go to a football stadium you really aren’t important. It’s really nice when someone on security doesn’t know who you are, just for that moment where you can point at the poster and go: ‘I’m the one in the middle’.”

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There are challenges when it comes to converting football grounds to concert venues.

“It can vary, depending on the scale of the football match taking place prior, but typically, 12-15 hours after the final whistle, we can have concert trucks driving onto the pitch ready to start erecting the stage,” says Ross McKeekin, senior events manager at Wembley Stadium.

“Once the pitch is clear we will begin to lay the concert floor and start the removal of the stadium stage pocket (the area of the lower tier on the west side of the stadium) to provide space for the stage to sit in.

“A lot of the work is usually done through the night. You could leave the stadium at 6pm after a football game and by the time you come back in the morning it will be concert-ready. It’s incredible how quickly it can be turned around.”

Most concerts at football stadiums tend to be held in the summer, for favourable weather conditions, but mainly to avoid too much of a clash with actual football games. In July 2017, U2 played at the Amsterdam Arena just two days before Ajax hosted a Champions League qualifying game against Nice, severely curtailing the time the club had to transform its home ground. Carve yourself out four minutes to watch this clip: it’s strangely hypnotic and fascinating.

Slightly surprisingly, McKeekin says that football games tend to be a bigger logistical challenge than concerts, largely because a touring act will generally arrive with a very well-drilled team that will sweep in and install the sets. From there, getting people in and out of the venue tends to be relatively straightforward.

A football match involves a wide range of ‘stakeholders’ who all want a hand in how the occasion is run — teams, organising bodies, local football associations, councils, government, police and broadcasters. Years of planning went into Wembley’s Champions League final, and while a big concert isn’t exactly a last-minute job, it tends to be much more ‘plug and play’.

There have been occasions when things haven’t gone so smoothly, though. In 2009, Fabio Capello, then England ’s manager, was reportedly upset about the damage that a Coldplay show had done to the Wembley turf. This year, fans of the K-pop band Seventeen were blamed for ruining the surface of the Macau Olympic Sports Centre Stadium.

Some slightly more implausible rows were caused at Tynecastle, the home of Scottish Premiership side Hearts , after their pitch was apparently “destroyed” by the marauding fans of… the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

go-deeper

A Taylor Swift love story: How pop icon is bringing a new, young audience to the NFL

A gig held at Huddersfield Town’s Kirklees Stadium in 2018 caused one of football’s more unlikely beefs: David Wagner vs Little Mix. Huddersfield ’s manager at the time said that someone had “obviously made a big, big mistake” when a show by the pop quartet had apparently made a dreadful mess of one end of the ground. “This is not satisfactory and not what I expect when we play in the best and biggest competition in the world,” said a livid Wagner.

These days, at regular concert venues like Wembley, possible issues are mitigated by having a ‘concert season’ (when sports events take a back seat) and improvements in pitch technology that make it much easier to fix the damage done by a concert.

“Once concert season has come to an end, the old pitch is dug up and replaced,” says Paul Smyth , Wembley Stadium general manager. “Wembley now operates a ‘lay and play’ pitch system, which allows us to grow new pitches at a turf farm away from the stadium.

“Lay and play is a game-changer for a multi-purpose venue like Wembley Stadium. Previously, we grew the pitch from seed. In the summer months, it takes up to five weeks after a concert to get a pitch ready for a football fixture. Now it can be done in a week. It has allowed us to open up new dates and extend our traditional concert season significantly.”

Away from commercial considerations, there are still kudos for artists playing in renowned stadiums, particularly when they have a bond with the venue.

One of Oasis’ defining gigs at the height of their mid-1990s fame was at Maine Road, then home of Manchester City , the team the Gallagher brothers support. Newcastle United fan Sam Fender’s show at St James’s Park in the summer of 2023 looked like a quasi-religious experience.

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When Take That played at Anfield in 2019, they brought Jerry Marsden onto the stage to sing You’ll Never Walk Alone — a shrewd way for lads from Manchester to ingratiate themselves with the locals.

Going back down the years brings another, slightly curious footballing connection to the music world. The Who played a famous concert at Charlton Athletic’s The Valley in 1974, which was partly arranged by their manager, Bill Curbishley, and helped out by his brother… Alan Curbishley, future club legend.

Sometimes there can be some slightly more unusual instances. It’s not technically a concert but a 1994 edition of Songs Of Praise (for the uninitiated: a long-running British TV show aired on Sunday nights, consisting of mainly Christian hymns and music, usually filmed in a church) was recorded at Old Trafford. The mosh pit must have been absolutely out of control.

On rare occasions, concerts have effectively taken priority over the host team. In July 2008, Manchester City had to play a UEFA Cup qualifying tie against Faroe Islands outfit EB Streymur at Barnsley’s Oakwell because their pitch wasn’t ready following concerts by Foo Fighters and Bon Jovi. That was Mark Hughes’s first official ‘home’ game as manager and a few weeks before Sheikh Mansour bought the club.

The idea of a concert even being on the same level of priority as a football match can be enough to rile the game’s more traditional gatekeepers. But when Taylor Swift steps onto the Anfield stage tonight, she will be just as at home there as Mohamed Salah .

(Top photo: Gareth Cattermole/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)

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Nick Miller

Nick Miller is a football writer for the Athletic and the Totally Football Show. He previously worked as a freelancer for the Guardian, ESPN and Eurosport, plus anyone else who would have him.

IMAGES

  1. Elton John Farewell Tour at Leeds First Direct Arena: Door times, last

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  2. Sir Elton John announces massive Leeds show as part of his farewell

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  3. Sir Elton John bids farewell to Leeds during unforgettable First Direct

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  4. "Your Song"

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  6. Sir Elton John bids farewell to Leeds during unforgettable First Direct

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