Last night's two-and-a-half-hour show marked the veteran musician's return to the spotlight following emergency appendix surgery in July.
"It's been a hell of a summer," he said from the stage of the London Palladium. "I'm glad to be rid of the appendix – it was a pesky little bugger."
According to all reports, the 66-year-old star was in high spirits and good health for his comeback concert, rattling through nine songs, including Tiny Dancer, Rocket Man and the new single from his forthcoming LP, The Diving Board. While Sir Elton's band seemed a little short on practice – they had to restart the new song three times – he was declared "the second-best rock singer ever" by special guest Rod Stewart, who joined in for a duet version of Sad Songs (Say So Much).
Reading on mobile? Click here to watch videoHosted by Dermot O'Leary, the evening also featured appearances by Lulu, Gary Barlow and James Blunt, who referred to Sir Elton as "the kindest man I've ever met". Video messages were shown from a wide range of his friends and collaborators, such as Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, Mumford & Sons, Emeli Sandé and Ed Sheeran.
Sir Elton dedicated the award to his fans, the Women's Institute and his long-time songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin. "I wouldn't be here without [him]," he said. The singer insisted that despite his recent illness, he has no plans to quit touring. "I'm addicted to playing live," he said. "I've played 92 countries, and I want to play 100. That's just the way I'm programmed."
The Diving Board, due on 24 September, will be Sir Elton's 30th studio album. He has already sold more than 250m records worldwide and collected four Brit awards, including prizes for charity work and "outstanding contributions to the music industry".
Highlights from the Brits Icon gala will be shown on ITV on 13 September.
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