Pneumonia forces Elton John to cut short Auckland gig

Elton John seen on a jumbotron after prematurely ending his show at the Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand, on Feb 16, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

WELLINGTON (AFP) - Elton John has tearfully apologised to fans after cutting short a concert in New Zealand due to illness, with the British superstar saying he was suffering from "walking pneumonia".

The 72-year-old, who is in the midst of a world tour, struggled to sing while seated at a grand piano during a performance at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland on Sunday (Feb 16) night.

After being checked by a medic with a stethoscope, he battled on through two more songs before calling a halt to proceedings barely half-way through his set-list.

"I can't sing, I've just completely lost my voice," he told concert-goers in a croaky rasp.

"I've got to go. I'm so sorry."

Video footage showed John standing at the piano and shrugging his shoulders at the crowd in a gesture of helplessness.

He then shuffled off the stage with his head bowed, helped by his road crew as the crowd cheered their support.

"I was diagnosed with walking pneumonia earlier today, but I was determined to give you the best show humanly possible," he later tweeted.

"I played and sang my heart out, until my voice could sing no more. I'm disappointed, deeply upset and sorry. I gave it all I had."

Walking pneumonia is an informal term for atypical pneumonia, which causes mild infections of the respiratory system, according to the US Centres for Disease Control.

It said symptoms include tiredness, sore throat, fever and coughing, and the illness can sometimes lead to full pneumonia, a serious lung infection.

John is in New Zealand as part of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road world tour, which began in 2018 and is scheduled to end in late 2020 in London.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.