After being postponed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Elton John‘s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour finally gets going again with a 2022 U.S. leg that kicks off January 19 in New Orleans.

Elton’s longtime guitarist and music director Davey Johnstone tells ABC Audio that he’ll be heading to New Orleans this Friday to start rehearsing with the rest of the band, albeit without Elton himself.

“I rehearse the band before Elton comes anywhere near, ’cause he hates to rehearse,” Johnstone reveals. “He is very impatient. There’s no way he can do rehearsal.”

Davey says that for the first few days of rehearsal, he employs a good friend, singer/pianist Adam Chester, to serve as a “surrogate Elton.”

“[Adam] plays great piano, and he loves to come in and sing Elton songs and play piano,” Johnstone explains. “[T]hen Elton will come in for a few hours. And then on the 19th, we do our first show, and off we go.”

Since Elton’s tour was put on hold in 2020, the pop-rock legend has released a new studio album, The Lockdown Sessions, which features collaborations with an eclectic variety of music stars.

Asked if any of these guest artists might show up to perform at select tour dates, Johnstone offers, cryptically, “I can’t really tell you right now, but there might be something that will happen that is a bit different, that you wouldn’t expect. It’s not quite a guest, but almost.”

As for whether he has any say about which songs are included in the set, Davey notes, “[Elton and I] very much collaborate on what the set’s gonna be. But obviously, as the singer and the star of the show, final cut is his call.”

Check out Elton’s full itinerary at EltonJohn.com.

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