Rod Stewart, Cyndi Lauper concert in Phoenix includes tributes to John McCain, Aretha Franklin, soccer balls

Rod Stewart performs on Aug. 24, 2018, at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Ariz.
Rob Schumacher/The Republic

Some guys might have "all the luck," but rock/pop icon Rod Stewart showed that he just has all the "right stuff," during his hour and 45-five-minute concert at the Talking Stick Resort Arena on Friday, August 24. 

The night's performance was filled with fun, fan-favorite music standards, delivered with the 73-year-old's renowned penchant for pizzazz and showmanship. Age and a decades-spanning career hasn't stopped the seminal singer and frontman from delighting his legion of devotees.

Opening with the rollicking 1984 single, "Infatuation," Stewart enthralled the capacity crowd from the get-go in a gold and purple blazer, polka dot shirt, black skinny jeans and sparkling shoes. He jutted his shoulders up and shimmied across a black-and-white checkered dance floor while churning through upbeat hits, "Having a Party," and "Some Guys Have All the Luck."

"We're going to sweat for you tonight," Stewart declared between songs.

Accompanying performers helped keep the energy up delivering lively dance sequences in glittering gold flapper dresses, while also serving soulful backup vocals and musical breakdowns across various string instruments including violins, a harp and an assortment of guitars. The band supported the rest of the sound with keys, dual drum sets and percussionist and a sultry saxophone, but Stewart's signature raspy voice stood out throughout the set. 

His vocals came out fantastically weathered and powerful during the Aretha Franklin-dedicated, "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)," and "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)."

While every song was a hit with concert-goers, eliciting sing-along moments at every turn, the first big highlight of the night came early with tour opener Cyndi Lauper coming out to perform the duet, "It Takes Two." Lauper's big voice complimented Stewart's perfectly and had the audience dancing. If anyone was left in their seats they quickly leapt to their feet for, "Forever Young." The song featured extensive musical highlights including everything from ripping guitar riffs and a blistering dual drum-off, to River and Tap Dancing.

As the night progressed, Stewart took time to chat with the crowd, sharing some of his music-making-memories with the likes of former Faces bandmate, Ron Wood. 

"I did this next song with a guy that's really my brother, Ronnie Wood," Stewart said. "We recorded it back in 1972, I believe, in London. It took two takes and two bottles of wine. Those were the days. Now listen to this and see if you remember."       

Bluesy guitar riffs rang out shortly after for his popular rendition of "I'd Rather Go Blind," and he flexed some more of his great-sounding range.

The pace picked up and crowd-pleasing moments continued with, "Young Turks," and "Rhythm of My Heart," which he dedicated to servicemen across the world and Arizona's Senator John McCain, who had just announced his decision to stop treatment for brain cancer earlier in the day. "Maggie May," gave fans an extra jolt and prompted some of the night's loudest cheers.

STORY: Sen. John McCain, Arizona political giant, has died

An hour into the show, Stewart and company disappeared for a quick dress change before reappearing in snazzy outfits for an acoustic set.

"We are all dressed in our finest, and we are prepared to give you our finest," Stewart declared as he beckoned his fans to take their seats. "Singing is good for the heart and the soul and the lungs, ladies and gentlemen. With that thought in mind, I'd like to invite you to sing along."

Stewart shined during this tempered portion of the set, letting his gravelly voice carry songs like, "You're in my Heart (The Final Acclaim)," "The First Cut is the Deepest," and "Have I Told You Lately." While his troupe carefully plucked and strummed their instruments, Stewart beamed at the center of it all in a blinding silver suit. "Cool," just oozed from the stage as his hair fluttered like a tuft of golden feathers.

The night culminated with Stewart kicking soccer balls into the crowd and his backup singers showing off their chops in a Tina Turner tribute of, "Nutbush City Limits," before balloons dropped on fans for the funky, "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" and lastly, "Sailing."   

Talk about, "the right stuff."

Rod Stewart And Cyndi Lauper At Madison Square Garden, Tuesday, August 7th, 2018, Reviewed

 
 

Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, Rod Stewart brought Cyndi Lauper with him, the way he brought Stevie Nicks the last time Rod was here back in 2013, for an act of nostalgia, whatever he might claim, and however his instincts work, that was reminiscent of Frank Sinatra’s last tour, where Sinatra’s voice was shot but his reflexes hadn’t missed a beat. And Rod’s thirty third MSG concert was a classic.

Back in the day, back in the early 1970s, Rod Stewart was a true great, a rock star, bluesman, folkie,  an interpreter of other people’s material  of immense power and precision, a song writer of immense skill, a storyteller, and a nouveau riche glam artist. Rod went from the Jeff Beck Group, to the Faces,  to a solo career, he changed from a long term artist to a disco diva, and when the hits ran out, hit the stadiums, the Chitterling circuit for cokeheads. His skills eroded over the years though he was always an excellent performer (Eli Kasan of The Gotobeds: “A true born performer. Not a self-conscience bone in his body”), and it took a very clever decision to cover the Great American Songbook in his instantly distinctive rasp, to put him back at the top of sales. Last night Rod shelved Gershwin and Berlin, and sang a lot of Rod, an early “You Wear It Wear” was hurt by a rusty vocal, was  warmed up well on “Maggie May” half an hour later. These are his  two best songs, though, astoundingly enough, his 2013 Time, found him reborn with his songwriting skills in tact. Time was his best album since, at the very earliest, 1998’s When We Were The Boys.

Rod in 2018 is the same only older, he does wear it well (remember when 73 years of age was old? Neither does Sir Rod) and with a full band, a handful of back up singers carrying him when he felt like skirting the melody, and some excellent moves -good enough to convince that he is dancing, he tried his best to defy his age. It was much better than the last time I saw Roderick, same venue, where he seemed a little tired (even though his voice was in better shape), perhaps Stevie Nicks, who drags me immensely, was to blame. Her opening did what it usually does, drives me to distraction. Not so Cyndi Lauper, Cyndi was almost flawless, I never much cared for “Drove All Night” and she opened with it and I loved “Kinky Boots” and last time I caught her she did a tremendous “The History Of Wrong Guys,” -Annaleiigh Ashford owns it and Cyndi reclaimed it, but she dropped the song last night. Those are my only caveats, Cyndi, who is a ridiculously fit 67 year old, was superb. I interviewed her for Creem back in 80something, we went to the Uncle Floyd Show, and she was, and remains, one of the nicest pop stars in the business.  The set leaned as heavy as you could hope for on She’s So Unusual, though the highlight was probably her early internet hit “Shine”. Cyndi is quite the climber, and she went off the stage as close to the audience as she could manage, singing in the 100s and on the floor  (the sound gets dodgy the further up you get). I might add that my $120 nosebleeds coulda used better acoustics (rock nyc scribe Michael Malone paid $20 for his -it’s a whole thing). More like a yenta, a Barbra Streisand, than a quirk popper, a new song, “Real Love” off her be here some day next musical “Working Girl” (Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford in the 80s: I can’t wait to hear what she does with “I have a head for business and a body for sin”). Cyndi was terrific, hit all the spots nicely including Captain Lou Albano being remembered), went a little easier on her autobiography, and the penultimate song had Cyndi offering her other true colors, with pictures from the million woman march to protest Trump, the pictures were of the feminist’s new motto: “Girls Just Want To Have Fun-damental rights”. Nice.

Cyndi joined Rod six songs into his set. It had been rough going, Infatuation” is an awful idea for a first song, “Some Guys Have All The Luck,” was saved by the back up singers who couldn’t save the worst version of “You Wear It Well,” I ever hope to hear and still better a bad “You Wear It Well,” than a good anything at all -I forgot how much I loved the mandolin. “Having A Party” was rasped into oblivion (and no namecheck for Sam Cooke), His voice began to warm up with a huge singalong to “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright),” always fun to hear sexagenarians singing along about taking a girl’s virginity by locking her in your home, plying her with drinks, and a warning that even a call to the police ain’t gonna stop him now, then back with Cyndi for a pretty on the money “It Takes Two” and while it is certainly true that Rod and Tina Turner had a hit with it, it will always belong to Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston, whom he also didn’t namecheck.

Rod took occasional breaks to change clothes and/or catch his breath and his voice slowly came into focus, seldom more so than on one of the great story songs, “Maggie May,” a spectacularly detailed story of a May – September romance. The song is so great that somewhere in Lester Bangs back pages lies a short story based upon the song (and while this is tangential at best, may I take a moment to remember Lester’s close friend, the great rock critic John Morthland, he died a coupla years ago and is missed). “Downtown Train” is excellent, Rod mentioned Tom Waits thanking Rod for getting him a new roof to his house.

The acoustic portion wasn’t much till Rod finally let loose on “Have I Told You Lately,” he might not do it often but when the mood strikes him, Rod can blow you away on a song. As the night wound down, a raunchy “Stay With Me” was followed by “Dya Think I’m Sexy,” where Rod was joined by his two young sons and all three of them kicked footballs into the crowd, the youngest even did some excellent break dancing. The encore was “Sailing”. and a healthy 105 minute set was admired by all.

Sure, Sir Rod is running on fumes, and he is very careful to preserve his voice, but at 73 years of age, Stewart was absolutely terrific, a crowd pleaser to the nth degree, and a legend… for two albums, of course, but also a legendary performer on stage, Sinatra would get it. .

Grade: A-

REVIEW: Rod Stewart and Cyndi Lauper share the love at PPL Center

 

Before Rod Stewart performed a sold-out Sands Bethlehem Event Center show in 2016, the singer hadn’t been to the Lehigh Valley in quite some time — since 1999 at Stabler Arena.

On Friday night, he returned for the second time in less than two years and nearly sold out the 10,500 seats of the PPL Center in Allentown.

It seems the Lehigh Valley loves him.

Stewart was in motion from the second he stepped on a stage right out of Vegas, where he has been performing in a residency. He pranced around on a black-and-white checkered floor and played the microphone. There were five backup singers and dancers and a smoking band, dressed in matching black-and-white checked blazers, offering up great guitar and sax solos and a violin solo on “You Wear it Well.”

His set kicked off less than 15 minutes after opener Cyndi Lauper ended, quite possibly the quickest turnaround I have ever seen for such a big show and one that had audience members scrambling to get back to their seats.

“It’s very nice to be back,” Stewart announced as he launched into the hit “Some Guys Have All The Luck.”

He switched throughout the night from feverish dance songs like Sam Cooke’s “Having a Party” and his hit “Young Turks” to slower tempo ballads like “Tonight’s the Night,” on which he let the audience sing a large portion, and “Forever Young,” during which he did take a break, ironically, while a great triple drum solo and Irish step-dancing violinists kept the energy level up.

Stewart concentrated on his hits from the 1970s and ‘80s. “Maggie May” was an upbeat sing-along. But two nicely sung gems were his covers of the soulful 1960s ballad “I’d Rather Go Blind” and Tom Waits’ powerful anthem “Downtown Train” (Stewart took a little break on this one too, lying on the floor and moving his legs like a bicycle).

He dedicated “Rhythm of My Heart” to those in the armed services. The song ended with video of Stewart being knighted by Prince William.

An acoustic set might have been the best part of the show, with Stewart being able to show off his voice and emotion.

Stewart and the band, now including a harpist, lined up on chairs at the front of the stage. The first song was a very pretty cover of “The First Cut Is The Deepest,” followed by Stewart’s 1977 hit “You’re In My Heart.”

The set also included a very pretty Celtic-sounding rebellion hymn, complete with accordion, called “Grace,” which is on Stewart’s upcoming 30th studio album “Blood Red Roses,” scheduled to arrive next month. As Stewart explained, it tells the heartbreaking story of the 1916 Easter Uprising, a failed insurrection by the Irish against Britain, and an Irish artist who married her fiance right before he was executed.

The acoustic set ended with Van Morrison’s beautiful and soulful ballad “Have I Told You Lately.”

The tempo changed drastically for one song – Stewart left the proceedings to his band and back up singers, who presented a fun and funky cover of the Ike and Tina Turner song “Nutbush City Limits.”

Stewart returned with his third outfit change and began his tradition of tossing and kicking soccer balls into the audience while he sang his hit “Hot Legs.” The concert ender, “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy,” was accompanied by a balloon drop that was confined to the front of the arena. It was like a party on stage, but Stewart kind of got lost amid all the balloons and dancers and musicians.

It was an enjoyable hour and 40-minute concert, but it was disappointing that an expected duet with Lauper never happened.

For her part, Lauper was interesting from beginning to end. Every song had a little something “unusual.”

Dressed stylishly in a pantsuit with a long jacket — she was white from head to toe — even her hair was white.

Lauper started strong, her voice booming on “I Drove All Night,” singing at one point while lying n her back on a cube. The second song, the energetic “She Bop,” revealed her flair for the dramatic, in her poses and her inflections. She even played a little flute. For the ballad “All Through the Night” she donned a white hooded robe and pranced atop a platform.

One backup singer helped add nuance and strength, but Lauper seemed to hit the high notes just fine during the hourlong, 10-song set. And she was animated and physical throughout, performing in front of her band and a great video backdrop of scenes and colorful graphics. She chatted with the audience and was very personable, telling stories about her family and friends.

During “Hope,” a 2017 song she wrote as part of the See Me Campaign about dealing with psoriasis, she came down from the stage into the audience and shook hands while walking around.

She also walked through the audience during “Shine,” a more recent song (2000) that she introduced with a personal message.

“In this country I’ve seen a lot cause I’m old. I don’t care, Republican, Democrat, Schmemocrat, whatever. We’re Americans first. And Americans we stick together. Stop being so freakin’ angry at each other. I don’t care who you vote for. But you got to vote. This one’s for is for all of us.”

To introduce “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough,’ from the 1985 film, Lauper talked about her mom, who appeared in her videos, and the wrestlers with whom she became close as she helped launch Wrestlemania in the 1980s — people like Captain Lou Albano, Freddie Blassie and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. She mentioned that Allentown had a big role in supporting the sport.

Her set was fast and furious, ending with her trio of hits. She played dulcimer while she sang “Time After Time,” a ballad that never gets old. She let the audience sing the chorus. She also played dulcimer for the closer, “True Colors,” also a perennial favorite.

In between, Lauper talked about the power of sisterhood to introduce the forever entertaining “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Much of the audience got up to dance joyfully.

Rod Stewart, Cyndi Lauper rock Nashville together in concert

Two unmistakable voices — and very different ones, at that — rang out from the same Nashville stage Wednesday night, as British rock great Rod Stewart returned to Bridgestone Arena with new wave icon Cyndi Lauper.

For more than three hours, both singers delivered hit songs and showbiz flair to a packed house — plus cameos from Rod's kids, airborne soccer balls, balloon drops and drum solos.

Rod Stewart has still got it

"It's gonna be a hot one tonight," Stewart said as he peeled a leopard-print suit jacket off his back — the first of several flashy outfits that clashed magnificently with a checkerboard stage. 

More specifically: "The boys are going to sweat, and the ladies are going to glisten." 

The 73-year-old has been singing on stage for 55 years, and if he's not actually having the time of his life every minute he's up there, well, he's mastered the illusion. The spontaneous moves he breaks into mid-song — from giddy jigs to what we could have sworn was a "dab" — are endearing and infectious. But that's all icing compared to how he sounds, and luckily, Rod's famous rasp hasn't crumbled over the decades. 

Rod Stewart performs at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018.
 

On the other hand, he might be setting a slower pace. Stewart took no less than three significant breaks during his performance, leaving his band and singers to fill in the gaps with drum and sax solos, plus an Ike and Tina Turner cover of "Nutbush City Limits" that played well in Tennessee. 

The breaks also included a cameo performance from The Sisterhood, a Nashville-based country duo that features his daughter, Ruby Stewart and fellow songwriter Alyssa Bonagura. The two performed their tune "Half Way" with Stewart's band, before dad returned to sing "Forever Young" with them.

"There's my lovely daughter. I think she's turned out rather well," Stewart said afterwards, then adding: "She was a little s--- when she was 14."

Breaks aside, Stewart made the most of his stage time during his near two-hour set. Few songs went by without turning into arena-wide sing-alongs, especially "Maggie Mae," during which Stewart repeatedly turned his microphone out to the masses.

Between acoustic renditions of "The First Cut Is the Deepest" and "You're In My Heart," Stewart had to exclaim, “You’re all singers! Everybody sings in Nashville!” 

Balloons rained down from ceiling during the disco anthem "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy," and "Stay With Me" (from his old band, Faces) featured another Stewart kid: his 7-year-old son, Aiden, who kicked soccer balls into the crowd alongside his dad, then breakdanced on the stage floor. Perhaps that was the moment everyone under that arena roof witnessed Stewart's secret to staying "Forever Young."

Rod Stewart and Cyndi Lauper have a few, um, awkward moments in Charlotte

In many ways, Rod Stewart and Cyndi Lauper proved to be well-matched tour mates with a great deal in common during their show on Saturday night at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center.

Both of them refused to act their age, for one. Opener Lauper — who turned 65 last month — leapt onto a loudspeaker while rocking out with her excellent 1984 cover of The Brains’ “Money Changes Everything,” then dropped to heknees to belt 1989’s “I Drove All Night”; while the 73-year-old Stewart literally sprinted onto the stage to open his much-longer set with an ’80s hit of his own — “Infatuation” — then later booted about two dozen autographed soccer balls to fans sitting in the far reaches of the lower level. (Note: As you probably know, he played as a kid and remains a huge fan of Celtic Football Club.)

Both of them needed a bit of time to warm into their voices: Stewart’s vocals on “Infatuation” were rickety enough (and so drowned out by the band) that I worried how his night was going to go, but a full hour and a half later, his melodious rasp came through richly and brightly on an acoustic version of Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately”; Lauper, meanwhile, sounded uneven at the beginning but splendid by the time she got to monster hits like “Time After Time” and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”

Let’s see, what else? Well, they both trotted out new songs despite knowing how new songs from artists like Rod Stewart or Cyndi Lauper were likely to be received (best guess: by bathroom breaks) and — surprise! — those new songs were pretty catchy.r 

Rod Stewart performs “Having a party” in front of a crowded Spectrum Center on Saturday, July 28, 2018.

Oh, and they also both always have had and probably always will have wild hair.

Yet for all their similarities, they also proved quite different — and it’s not just the stark contrast between their native accents (Stewart’s is of course British, Lauper’s is as Noo Yawk as it gets).

For instance, Stewart’s most visible interaction with young people on Saturday night was a moment (right before launching into an exuberant rendition of his old rock band Faces’ hit “Stay With Me”) when he gently mocked a couple of 10-year-old girls in the front row who he noted “were so bored stiff they’re doing each other’s hair.” A camera then cut to the kids, and they indeed looked bored stiff.

On the other hand, Lauper found a way to celebrate a pair of children: two musically inclined teenaged siblings she claimed to have discovered this week in Charlotte. The singer brought them out on stage and let one (a 13-year-old boy named Robert) play keys while the other (a 14-year-old girl who introduced herself as — and this spelling may not be correct, but — Maya) transformed the first part of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” into an achingly gorgeous gospel number before giving way to the star. (I’d love to find out more about these kids, so if you know them, email me.)

But Lauper at times seemed frustrated by the crowd’s relative lack of enthusiasm for her hits. Midway through “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” for instance, she waved off the band: “Stop, stop. What? What is that? Come on! The kids are from your town, we’re singing your favorite song. Can’t you breathe? Are you alive? Well, you gotta sing loud enough for them people over in Washington taking away all your civil rights so they can hear you!” It’s possible this was a planned bit, but it didn’t work — fans didn’t seem to get much louder. (More on her politicizing in a minute.)

Stewart, on the other hand, had no problem getting practically the entire arena to sing along, at the top of its lungs, to crowd favorites like “Young Turks,” “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright),” “Forever Young,” and an acoustic version of “The First Cut Is the Deepest,” to name just a few.

Incidentally, after wrapping up the latter track (which my wife and I had listened to on the way to the show and which she remarked afterward sounded even better live), Stewart noted that Cat Stevens and Sheryl Crow both had also recorded that song. Then he joked that “neither version is quite as good as mine.”

That’s a bit of self-absorption that I could laugh at. I found it off-key, though, when Stewart dedicated Scottish-influenced staple “Rhythm of My Heart” “to all the soldiers that have fought for freedom over the years and are still fighting” ... then proceeded to brag that the video that would play behind him during the song (which was mostly archival footage of and headlines about World Wars) would feature “your old pal here getting knighted by Prince William.” It did. I’m not sure why, as that doesn’t make him a soldier.

Lauper had her own awkward moment when she went out into the crowd to sing her new song “Hope.” She was across the arena from my seats, so I couldn’t tell exactly what happened, but she appeared to become briefly irritated and muttered something unintelligible into the mic; when she got back onstage, Lauper spent several seconds wiping off her jacket with a small towel and referenced “some poor (expletive) up there. (Unintelligible) he thought he was Robin Williams (unintelligible). Except Robin was actually funny. Alright, never mind.”

Having shaken it off, she left the stage again a few songs later, to sing 2002’s “Shine” while standing on folding chairs in the floor section.

Rod Stewart sings out during his concert at the Spectrum Center on Saturday, July 28, 2018.

Stewart, on the other hand — though he’s been known to frequently run out into the crowd during his hugely successful “Rod Stewart: The Hits” residency shows at The Colosseum in Las Vegas — didn’t leave the stage Saturday night unless it was to change costumes.

Speaking of that residency, it definitely seemed as though Stewart has packed this tour with resplendent touches that were inspired by and/or borrowed directly from his Vegas show: four costume changes that featured the headliner in increasingly garish jackets and increasingly tight pants; six male band members in suits plus six showgirls-style female backup singers/dancers/musicians in bright-red lipstick and revealing mini-dresses; and a massive, colorful balloon drop during 1979 hit “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” right near the end of the show.

On the other hand, Lauper stayed in the same black leather pants and the same blazer with the giant eyes stitched onto it throughout her set; employed a female drummer and a female guitarist who looked like rockers and not eye candy; and chose to drop political statements instead of confetti.

It was actually kind of jarring, to have Lauper espousing feminism and trying to lift up women and talking about how she “burned her training bra at the first (women’s rights) demonstration” at one point in the show, then at another, seeing Stewart take a black bra that had been tossed on-stage during “Maggie May” and twirling it around on his finger with a big silly grin on his face. He also joked, awkwardly, that “people often ask me, do you have orgies and things like that” with the “gorgeous ladies in the band?”

But even that wasn’t as uncomfortable as this: Lauper interrupted the final chorus of “True Colors” to raise a fist and say: “To the young people that got mad and decided not to vote. How happy are you now?” I heard a smattering of cheers, but I also heard more than one audience member shout back, “Very happy!”

Anyway, by this point, you might be confused about whether or not I liked the show, so I’ll say this: They both looked great, sounded great and moved great. They made smart song choices. Their bands were on point.

And for better or worse, as the night wore on, I couldn’t wait to see what might happen next . . .

ROD STEWART’S SETLIST

1. “Soul Finger” (The Bar-Kays cover, without Stewart)

2. “Infatuation”

3. “Having a Party”

4. “Young Turks”

5. “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)”

6. “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” (Hambone Willie Newbern cover, with Cyndi Lauper)

7. “Forever Young”

8. “Rhythm of My Heart”

9. “Maggie May”

10. “There’s a Hole in My Heart Where You Used to Be”

11. “Downtown Train”

12. “The First Cut Is the Deepest”

13. “You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)”

14. “Grace”

15. “Have I Told You Lately”

16. “Nutbush City Limits” (Ike & Tina Turner cover, without Stewart)

17. “Stay With Me”

18. “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”

Encore:

19. “Sailing”

Rod Stewart delivers a strong hometown show at the Hollywood Bowl as he and Cyndi Lauper kick off their 2018 summer tour on Monday

It was clear from the first few songs Rod Stewart sang on stage at the Hollywood Bowl on Monday that he was having a party, as the Sam Cooke classic he performed is titled, but what he said after finishing that number underscored the obvious joy he felt at being on that stage in this town for a pair of shows to kick off his 2018 summer tour with Cyndi Lauper.

“It’s been seven years since I last saw you,” Stewart said, a statement that seemed unlikely until a quick bit of post-show fact checking proved him right. “A lot’s happened, but I moved here in 1975, so I consider this a hometown show – here, London, or Glasgow, my spiritual home.”

It probably seems like Stewart’s been around a lot more than a one-off record release gig at the Troubadour in West Hollywood in 2013 since his last two nights at the Hollywood Bowl in 2011because of his regular residencies at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in the intervening years, and we can thank those runs, along with tour dates around the world between those Vegas runs, for keeping the 73-year-old British rock singer and his band in fine form.

Stewart’s always been a playful peacock of a performer, and at the Bowl that side of his character was on display throughout the hour and 45 minutes he was on stage, with flirty grins at the ladies in the front of the house to at least four breaks to change his outfits – best of the night has to be the half-unbuttoned leopard-print shirt under a black jacket with leopards on it – to the dozens of soccer balls he kicked and tossed into the crowd during the final few songs.

“I’ve always been a show off,” he said on returning to stage late in the show in a sparkly silver suit.

But its the rasp and grit in his soulful voice that made him a star, and that’s still what sells the songs, from the blast of horns and guitars that energized “Infatuation” which opened the show to an acoustic mini-set midway through the night that offered lovely versions of songs such as “The First Cut Is The Deepest.”

Maybe he doesn’t reach the highest notes like he used to on songs such as “Maggie May,” one of his signature tunes, but the passion with which he delivered that one, sung while walking through the audience,, and other hits – whether his own compositions or covers – was strong throughout his performance.

Highlights early in the set included “Some Guys Have All The Luck” and “Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright),” the latter of which provided one of the loudest Hollywood Bowl sing-alongs I’ve ever heard when Stewart and the band dropped out to let the crowd sing the chorus.

With a new album coming this fall, Stewart slipped in a new track, “Hole In My Heart,” with self-deprecating humor, acknowledging that fans wouldn’t know it. After it finished he asked them to “make out like you just heard ‘Hot Legs’ or another really big one, OK?” It was a fine song, new or not, and they did as requested to Stewart’s delight.

The show wrapped up strongly, with “Stay With Me,” an original by the Faces, Stewart’s band before going solo, and the silly but still fun disco anthem “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy,” which wrapped up the main set. The mid-’70s ballad “Sailing” made for most of the encore though Stewart and the band sang and danced through the standard “Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think)” as the curtain dropped.

Earlier, Stewart had brought out Cyndi Lauper for a duet on the blues classic “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” a nod both to his early love of American blues music and his co-headliner this summer as well as last.

Lauper, who turned 65 on Friday, delivered a lively set of her own songs as the sun still was setting, opening with “I Drove All Night” and “She Bop” and chatting humorously with the early crowd between most songs. The ballad “All Through The Night” was an early highlight, and the crowd ate up her performance of “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough” from the mid-’80s movie soundtrack.

One of her biggest hits, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” was both both fun and touching, accompanied by video clips of women’s marches this year and last and marchers carrying signs that read “Girls just wanna have fundamental rights.” While it was clear this was the first night of the tour – while introducing her band she had to ask her drummer her last name – it was a great way to kick off the party that Stewart continued until the curtain fell.

 

Rod Stewart won’t stop kicking out the fun at the Colosseum

 
 

Rod Stewart just added new fall dates at the Colosseum.

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With Elton John departed to begin his retirement tour and Mariah Carey returning next month, the Colosseum at Caesars Palace is going through some change. But there’s more than one rock-solid headliner show still running smoothly for its abundantly affectionate audience at this venue, and that was proven on June 15 with the return of Rod Stewart.

 

The 73-year-old superstar exploded onto the stage in swanky black and gold Friday night after his powerhouse 12-piece band and backups got the crowd going with the Bar-Kays’ funky classic, “Soul Finger.” Stewart wasted no time or scream of adulation, ripping right into ’80s hit “Infatuation” and dashing out some endearingly silly dance moves. Then he thanked everyone for coming to his 137th show at the Colosseum, promised he would stick mostly to the hits but warned he wanted to perform two tracks from his upcoming 30th studio album “Blood Red Roses,” then demanded everyone keep dancing while he covered Sam Cooke’s “Having a Party.” And dance they did.

Those two new songs aren’t entirely new. First up was “There’s a Hole in My Heart,” a legitimately new creation all about a bachelor who’s lost his way when he loses his girl. It was upbeat, soulful and a little doo-wop-ish. Later in the show, when Stewart had donned an electric red suit for an acoustic set at the front of the stage, he performed the heart-wrenching 1922 rebellion hymn “Grace,” which tells the story of Irish artist Grace Gifford, who married her fiancé Joseph Plunkett hours before he was executed for his leadership role in the Easter Rising, a failed insurrection in 1916. It looks like that rendition will be on the new album, too.

Stewart’s unmistakably raspy, warmly emotive vocals took over during this song and this part of his show, which also included the Cat Stevens-penned hit “The First cut is the Deepest” and Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately.” It also showcased Stewart’s ability to take well-known and well-worn songs and truly make them his own.

If that wasn’t the musical and emotional high point of the evening, perhaps it was Stewart’s jaunt through the audience during “Maggie May” or the soccer-specific version of “Rhythm of My Heart.” Whether crooning, shuffling across the stage or booting soccer balls into the seats, Stewart never lacked energy, and his fans returned the intensity. You should have seen these folks fighting for those balls.

Fortunately for the Colosseum, Rod the Mod isn’t going anywhere. New dates were just announced for November and early December and those tickets are on sale June 22, when he takes the stage again.

“Rod Stewart: The Hits” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. June 22, 29 and 30 at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace (3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 866-320-9763) and more information can be found at thecolosseum.com.

Rod Stewart an instant celebration at Paramount Legends show

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According to the screams from the large number of women in the crowd at The Paramount in Huntington Tuesday night, singer Rod Stewart is still “sexy” at 71.

The venue kicked off its new Legends Series, which is not open to the public but is instead a VIP branch of its Founder’s Room membership. One of the perks of being a member (annual fee is $4,000) is the ability to purchase tickets to specialty events featuring arena-size acts, including Stewart, performing intimate shows. Next up is Don Henley, who appears on Sept. 12.

This venue reminds me of a place I used to play when I was 17,” said Stewart, who was wrapped in a gold blazer with his collared shirt unbuttoned a few notches. “It looks just like it!”

The raspy-voiced Rock & Roll Hall of Famer wasted no time turning the night into an instant celebration opening with “Having a Party” backed by a 12-piece band.

Stewart switched gears between ballads like “Tonight’s the Night” to pop songs such as “Rhythm of My Heart” to rockers “Hot Legs” and “Sweet Little Rock N Roller.” However, he made sure to flirt with the ladies in the balcony flashing his signature boyish grin and rustling his spiky blond l

“This is really a wonderful experience,” he said in amazement. “What fun!”

Anthony Gravano, 48, of Lake Grove brought his wife Christine, 47, to see Stewart, one of her favorites.

“I’m a ’70s kind of gal,” she said. “I even named my daughter after his song ‘Maggie May’!”

 



 

Rod Stewart's concert best ever at Bethlehem Sands

I read John Moser's review of Rod Stewart's concert at the Bethlehem Sands Event Center.

I feel it's a great review, but I believe it needs a few additions. He mentions that "Stewart's voice has aged — thinner than his classic sound." This may be true, but at 71 years young his hair is thinning as well and he doesn't dance, jump or throw the microphone stand nearly as often or as much as he did his younger days.

That being said, Stewart still makes me feel like a schoolgirl. He has the uncanny ability to transport us 60-somethings back to the days when we thought we'd be "Forever Young." This was my 55th Stewart concert and he's still a "Sweet Little Rock 'n' Roller." In my humble opinion, the concert was the best event ever at the Bethlehem Sands Event Center.

Joan Walko

REVIEW: With Rod Stewart at Sands Bethlehem Event Center, some guys have all the luck

Of The Morning Call

Rod Stewart captured it perfectly Friday when, as the second song at his Sands Bethlehem Event Center show, he performed his 1984 hit  “Some guys have all the luck.”

Clearly luck is with the 71-year-old singer.

In an hour-and-40-minute set in which he sang 16 songs (and had his backup singers do another), Stewart was endlessly entertaining, piling hit upon hit from his 45-year career while performing with swashbuckling swagger that made the show not only fabulous but fun.

Dressed in a gold leopard-print jacket and open-necked white shirt, Stewart opened with his 1993 hit cover of Sam Cooke’s “Having a Party” that set the tone for the night.

Despite his age, Stewart personified another of his songs, “Forever Young,” as he dipped, danced and  vamped – even, on “Downtown Train,” laying on his back to do a scissor-legged split.

It has to be acknowledged that part of what made the show so great was that it was in the 2,550-seat event center – not only among just three U.S. dates Stewart will play outside Las Vegas this year, but one-sixth the size of venues he normally plays.

And it was the first time in 17 years Stewart played the Lehigh Valley – since a 1999 show at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem.

But the show was no less big than you’d see in Vegas. The stage, with its bright neon and checkerboard/diner flooring, with a dozen musicians and backup singers, was as impressive as the event center has seen in its four years.

“It’s an absolute delight to be here,” Stewart told the crowd after “Some Guys Have All the Luck.” “Gives me a chance to interact with an intimate audience.”

And Stewart wasn’t shy about interacting. Five songs into the set, he stopped “You Wear It Well” to tell the stage crew to “turn off those f—king lights” on the front rows, saying he was districted by them brightly shining on all the “white bald heads and bosoms.”

But rather than making him seeming like a diva, the episode seemed to make the audience embrace him as an endearing rogue without any pretenses.

It helped that the song was among the night’s best – a warm welcoming of the passage of time, and yet another reminder of how well both Stewart and his music have held up.

A word about that:  Stewart’s voice has aged – thinner than his classic sound, especially on his 1975 cover of The Isley Brothers’ “This Old Heart of Mine.” But it warmed a few songs into the show, such as on the Celtic-flavored “Rhythm of My Heart,” on which he dipped, danced and wiggled his posterior.

And Stewart more than made up the difference in his passionate performance. On a very good “Tonight’s the Night,” he “soared” around stage, his arms outstretched, swiveled his knees and kneeled on stage to sing. He sat on the edge of the stage to sing “Downtown Train.”

There were other signs of limitations: He left the stage for several minutes during a very good “Forever Young” during an extended drum solo and fiddle-infused jig with his backup singers dancing, and during a long sax solo on “Downtown Train.” And entirely for “Young Turks,” which his backup singers performed. He also sometimes let the sold-out crowd sing too much and too long.

But sometimes the additional vulnerability in Stewart’s voice also enhanced the songs, such as on the lovely and extremely well-played “First Cut is the Deepest,” which became even more emotionally brittle. His lighter rasp fit a cover of Bonnie Tyler’s “It’s a Heartache” (on which she originally copied Stewart) and an also-excellent “Have I Told You Lately.”

That last song was part of a four-song acoustic set that was the best part of the show. Seated at the front of the stage with a harp, two violins, two acoustic guitars and a stand-up bass, Stewart performed an excellent “You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim),” a fun and jaunty version of his old band Faces’ “Ooh La La” that immediately had the crowd clapping along,  

 Stewart wound down the show with Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Rock and Roller,” still swiveling and dancing The Swim,  and a great version of his big hit “Maggie May,” on which is more vulnerable voice again added more dimension.

Then he closed the main set with a loose-and-fun “Hot Legs,” during which he kicked a dozen soccer balls into the crowd.

The encore was Stewart’s biggest hit, “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy,” which bounced with a huge balloon drop on the crowd.

It was a big end to a big show. To have Stewart back in the Lehigh Valley was a delight. To have it in a smaller venue made it even more so. 

And to have Stewart perform so well – well, it was really the Sands Bethlehem Event Center audience that had all the luck.

Photos: Rod Stewart The Hits

1970s and 80s rock singer Rod Stewart entertained a large crowd at U.S. Cellular Coliseum Wednesday evening.

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