Tour De Force (tour)

The Tour De Force Tour was a concert tour by English musician and composer Elton John. The tour consisted in 28 shows scheduled in Australia accompanied with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Tour De Force
Tour by Elton John
Start date5 November 1986 (1986-11-05)
End date14 December 1986 (1986-12-14)
No. of shows28
Elton John concert chronology


Elton John's Tour De Force of Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) was the culmination of months of planning and preparation, as well as some remarkable stamina from the singer, who would have surgery on his vocal cords just three weeks after the final show.

This elaborate and ornate symphonic tour, the first of its kind by a rock star, concluded with 11 nights at the Sydney Entertainment Center. John's core band, most of whom were retained from recording of the Leather Jackets album, also included the Onward International Horns, three backing singers, and now two percussionists (with Ray Cooper returning to join Jody Linscott).[1]


The show that John performed was a product of five months of planning and countless rehearsals. It was the first time he had performed in Australia for two years.[2]

The show was set in two-halves. The first half would be like any typical Elton John concert with John and his band. The second half of the concert included the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts consisted of two sets: the first was limited to John and his 14-piece band, including backing vocalists and the Onward International horn section, and his flamboyant stage dress, featuring Mohawk and Tina Turner wigs and some outlandish eyewear; the second featured John, the band and the 88-piece Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, with John dressed more classically in a powdered wig and late 18th-century/mid-19th-century style formal wear.

The shows typically were approximately three hours long and comprised thirty-four songs. The tour ended on 14 December 1986, at Sydney's Sydney Entertainment Centre. In June the following year, Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra was released showcasing music recorded on 14 December 1986, at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, which was the final show of the tour.[3]

The tour, however, was somewhat marred by the fact John's voice was having problems. He would have coughing fits up on stage. It was during this tour it was discovered he had nodules on his vocal cords. He was scheduled to do three concerts in Perth but, according to Gus Dudgeon, "on the third night, he was sitting in his dressing room and suddenly found he couldn't speak at all".[4] He was ordered not to speak for four days.

Working with the orchestra

James Newton Howard, who was at the time an up-and-coming film composer in Hollywood, joined John to conduct and write larger, augmented charts of not only his own previous work on "Tonight", but also Paul Buckmaster's original arrangements, since the music was to be played by 88 musicians, instead of the smaller studio orchestra for which the compositions were originally designed. He also wrote brand new full orchestra parts for songs such as "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me", which previously only had horn arrangements.


John's live sound engineer, Clive Franks, handled the recording of the band (assisted by Keith Walker and Dennis Fox), while album producer Gus Dudgeon supervised recording of the orchestra by Leon Minervini and Nic Jeremy. Dudgeon took the tapes back to Wisseloord Studios in the Netherlands for mixing with engineer Graham Dickson, who had also worked on Leather Jackets.

A home video release commemorated the concert and was originally released on both laserdisc and VHS. A version of the Laserdisc program has surfaced on DVD. Of the "Elton & His Band" portion, "Daniel" and "Medley: Song for You, Blue Eyes, I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" were issued in 1988 as bonus tracks on the Rocket maxi-single for "A Word in Spanish" (UK/Europe only) as EJSCD 18, 872 299–2. The audio from "Carla/Etude" from the concert appeared on the "To Be Continued ..." boxed set.[5][6][7]

Tour dates

Date City Country Venue
5 November 1986 Brisbane Australia Brisbane Entertainment Centre
6 November 1986
7 November 1986
10 November 1986 Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Centre
11 November 1986
12 November 1986
13 November 1986
14 November 1986
15 November 1986
16 November 1986
17 November 1986
18 November 1986
21 November 1986 Adelaide Football Park
25 November 1986 Perth Perth Entertainment Centre
26 November 1986
1 December 1986 Sydney Sydney Entertainment Centre
2 December 1986
3 December 1986
4 December 1986
6 December 1986
7 December 1986
8 December 1986
9 December 1986
10 December 1986
11 December 1986
12 December 1986
13 December 1986
14 December 1986

Tour setlist

Elton and the band

  1. "Funeral for a Friend"/"One Horse Town"
  2. "Philadelphia Freedom"
  3. "Levon"
  4. "Rocket Man"
  5. "The Bitch Is Back"
  6. "Daniel"
  7. "Song for You"/ "Blue Eyes"/ "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues"
  8. "Bennie and the Jets"
  9. "Heartache All Over the World"
  10. "Nikita"
  11. "Sad Songs (Say So Much)"
  12. "This Town"
  13. "I'm Still Standing"

Elton, band and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

  1. "Sixty Years On"
  2. "I Need You to Turn to"
  3. "The Greatest Discovery"
  4. "Tonight"
  5. "Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word"
  6. "The King Must Die"
  7. "Cold as Christmas (in the Middle of the Year)"
  8. "Take Me to the Pilot"
  9. "Carla/Etude"
  10. "Tiny Dancer"
  11. "Have Mercy on the Criminal"
  12. "Slow Rivers"
  13. "Madman Across the Water"
  14. "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
  15. "Candle in the Wind"
  16. "Burn Down the Mission"
  17. "Your Song"
  18. "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting"[8][9]

Tour band


  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 March 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), Retrieved 29 August 2011
  3., Retrieved 19 October 2011
  4. Elton by Philip Norman, Random House, Australia, 1991. ISBN 0 09 182556 3 page 441
  5., Retrieved 29 August 2011
  6., Retrieved 19 October 2011
  7., Retrieved 19 October 2011