AS Elton John prepares for his final ever UK performance at Glastonbury Festival next weekend, it comes nine years after his Yellow Brick Road brought him off the beaten-arena track to Leigh.

With decades of pop hits in his back catalogue, Sir Elton has become accustomed to playing huge arenas and massive football stadiums throughout his illustrious career.

Back in 2014, however, the European leg of the pop star's 'Follow the Yellow Brick Road Tour', to mark the 40th anniversary of the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album, began here in Leigh.

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Leigh Journal: Sir Elton delighted a 16,500 strong crowd in LeighSir Elton delighted a 16,500 strong crowd in Leigh (Image: Leigh Journal)

Playing to a crowd of around 16,500 fans at Leigh Sports Village, the Saturday night was definitely alright for drinking and dancing as Sir Elton rolled off the hits for a two-and-a-half-hour set.

Arriving into Leigh via helicopter, the singer was electric behind his grand piano and dressed in a dazzling sequined navy blue suit, royal blue shirt, and matching glasses.

The set list was comprehensive enough to satisfy all ages in the audience, ranging from old favourites such as Benny and the Jets, Rocket Man, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Tiny Dancer - to new numbers from his latest album The Diving Board – and plenty in between.

Leigh Journal: Elton fans outside the Leigh Sports VillageElton fans outside the Leigh Sports Village (Image: Leigh Journal)

And while he may be more at home performing under the bright lights of Caesar’s Palace in Vegas than the home of the (then) Centurions, he told the crowd: “It’s wonderful to be here in Leigh, when I was young I used to watch the rugby league with Eddie Waring commentating.

“I’d rather play here than the Manchester Arena. I want to come to places where there are no other places to play than the local football stadium.

“I much prefer it to being in city arenas because I get to see people that I wouldn’t get to see anywhere else. I still love doing what I do.”

Leigh Journal: Leigh's own Elton look-a-likeLeigh's own Elton look-a-like (Image: Leigh Journal)

With the summer solstice sun disappearing behind the rugby stadium, some of the biggest cheers on the night were reserved for Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On (Leigh) Me, as well as mega-hits I’m Still Standing and I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues.

Dedicating the classic Your Song to the appreciative crowd, Sir Elton said: “This is a song for each and every one of you. Thank you Leigh.”

Leigh Journal: Enjoying the sunshine before Elton's performanceEnjoying the sunshine before Elton's performance (Image: Leigh Journal)

And after an energetic rendition of Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting), autographs were signed and an encore of Are You Ready For Love and Crocodile Rock brought the house down - proof that you don’t need fancy gimmicks, elaborate staging and endless costume changes to entertain a stadium crowd - certainly not one as welcoming as Leigh.

Leigh Journal: Sir Elton pulled out all the stops with his two-and-a-half-hour setSir Elton pulled out all the stops with his two-and-a-half-hour set (Image: Leigh Journal)