Rod Stewart review: The evening ends up being both cheesy and heartwarming

The evening ends up being both cheesy and heartwarming as Rod Stewart is joined by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

By Tim De Lisle for Event Magazine

Published: Updated: 

 

 

Rod Stewart

O2 Arena, London

Rating:

Rod Stewart, who turns 75 next month, keeps popping up in the news. No sooner had he become the oldest man to top the UK album chart than he found himself the target of a rather rude banner, waved by fellow Celtic fans after he cheered on Boris Johnson. 

 

But the most intriguing item was the revelation that he has an enormous train set. Rod the Mod is now Rod the Model Railway Enthusiast.

At the O2 he becomes surely the first pop star to incorporate a love of trains into an arena show. ‘I need to talk to you,’ he suddenly says, ‘on a serious note. You may have read that Rod Stewart has a model railway. People used to make fun of it, but now I don’t care. So here’s my railway – not a picture, a movie!’

Rod the Mod is now Rod the Model Railway Enthusiast. At the O2 he becomes surely the first pop star to incorporate a love of trains into an arena show

The big screen shows a loving black-and-white video of the railway and the replica American city he has spent 23 years building, while he sings Downtown Train. Say what you like about the railway, it has brought a touching Tom Waits song back into Rod’s repertoire.

 

Next there’s another surprise as he is joined by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Wearing black tie, they make strange bedfellows for Rod’s 12-piece band, who have come as Christmas gifts in lurid shades of pink and gold.

The RPO also appear on the new album, You’re In My Heart. If you buy it for mum, do keep the receipt because it’s a little dull. But the combination works in concert. Feeling the force of 40 musicians is a whole lot better than hearing the bagpipes impersonated by a synthesiser, as we did earlier.

One classic ballad, The First Cut Is The Deepest, is magical enough. Another, I Don’t Want To Talk About It, is even better, first deepened by the strings, then lifted by the crowd, who are inspired to form a colossal choir. 

The evening ends up being both cheesy and heartwarming – just like Christmas. 

 

 

 

Rod Stewart – Arena-scale spectacular in Leeds

I never particularly liked Rod Stewart until I saw him live. Sure, he got a pass for the Faces and some early solo tracks at a push but, as an avid reader of the music press at the time, I went along with the ‘accepted narrative’ that Rod was a bit naff without really questioning why. Being a willing friend, a mate of mine at the time really wanted to go see him and needed someone to go with, so I happily obliged. To my surprise, I had a great time and it dawned on me that, once you got past the leopard-skin kecks and mullet, Rod Stewart is one of our great blue-eyed soul voices and has released a great string of singles over the years.

Seventeen years on, I still speak of that gig very fondly, so I was more than happy to review this show at the First Direct Arena, one of the nation’s better ‘shed’ venues. The curtain goes up to reveal deliberately gaudy images of Las Vegas, suited and booted backing band, glamourous backing singers (blonde, obviously). In the centre, striding across the stage with a big old grin, our man kicks off with a song that could well be about himself, ‘Some Guys Have All the Luck’.  Forget recent health concerns and understated reflectiveness, Rod’s up for a night on the town tonight and he’s brought an impressive arsenal of hits.

There are a few detours from the tried and tested routine. ‘Dirty Old Town’, the old Ewan Maccoll standard covered by Rod many years before the Pogues, is performed seated as is his recent take on the Easter Rising ballad, ‘Grace’. While his American Songbook albums are often lambasted, Rod is more comfortable these days as crooner than rocker. That’s not to say he can’t still belt ‘em out, but his vocal strength is at its best and most soulful on the heart-rending ‘Killing of Georgie’ and Van Morrison’s ‘Have I Told You Lately’.

A D-Day tribute accompanies one of Rod’s finest singles, ‘Rhythm of my Heart’, while his cover of Tom Waits’ ‘Downtown Train’ is accompanied by footage of Rod’s celebrated model railway construction. ‘Do You Think I’m Sexy?’, that old fan-dividing chestnut and the song that has cemented the image of Rod in the minds of most people for better or worse, is accompanied by a shower of balloons throughout the arena. It’s a lot of fun and hard to resist joining in.

Arms sway along to traditional main set closer, ‘Sailing’, one of many occasions tonight akin to a Barry Manilow gig (that’s a good thing, by the way!) before Rod the Mod rocks off with the sole nod to the Faces, ‘Stay with Me’. Off he pops and, in typical British fashion, I hear someone picking holes in the setlist the moment he steps off stage. So there’s no ‘You Wear It Well’, ‘Reason to Believe’, ‘Every Picture Tells A Story’ (or ‘Hot Legs’ but this being the #metoo era, it’s for the best). Mostly, it’s the big hitters, the Rod Stewart songs you may catch on any given commercial radio station but it’s clear that even the overly-familiar material is delivered with feeling and the voice remains strong. Long may he continue.

 

Review: Rod rocks Leeds Arena

IN this 50th year of his career, Rod Stewart shows no sign of easing off as he is presently engaging on a nationwide tour of the UK and visited Leeds Arena last Wednesday as one of the venues.

Sir Roderick David Stewart has been a major influence in the British pop scene from the late 60s through to the present day and achieved his first UK number one single with Maggie May back in 1970. Since then he has achieved a further six songs which reached number one in the charts and nineteen that were in the top ten. Similarly his album output has been phenomenal with thirty studio albums, four live albums and twenty six compilation albums. He ranks number seventeen in the list of best-selling music artists in the United Kingdom with over one hundred million records sold.

Following a bagpipes intro, Rod bounded onto the stage and belying his 74 years of age rocked the Arena with Some Guys Have All The Luck followed by Having a Party. Whilst he might not be able to gyrate his hips as well as he did in the 70s and 80s his vocals on these first two numbers were just as strong as ever. The concert continued with firstly It Takes Two and then as a memorial to the D-Day Veterans, Rod launched into The Rhythm of My Heart followed by The Killing of Georgie. Three more rock numbers followed – Young Turks, Tonight’s The Night, and Twisting The Night Away.

 

As well as the band which included three guitarists, three percussionists, two violinists, cellist and harpist there were also three female backing singers who joined Rod in most of these numbers.

It was then a much quieter sequence of numbers with Rod, the vocalists, two of the guitarists and the violinists positioned on chairs at the front of the stage. Over the next half hour they performed a further seven numbers – Downtown Train, Ewan McColl’s Dirty Old Town, The First Cut Is The Deepest, I Don’t Want To Talk About It, You’re In My Heart, Grace – a lovely Irish Ballad, and finally Have I Told You Lately (That I Love You).

To end the show it was back to the heavier numbers with Baby Jane, Maggie May, Do Ya Think I’m Sexy and finally his number one single from 1975 - Sailing. And then of course the inevitable encore of Stay With Me.

The capacity crowd at Leeds Arena thoroughly enjoyed the show which had all Rods’ major hits and more. My only slight criticism of the show is that in some of the numbers the band was a little too loud which drowned out some of the vocals. Apart from this, though, it was a thoroughly entertaining evening.

 

Rod Stewart: M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool

Rod Stewart played Liverpool on the windiest night of the year Getintothis’ Rick Leach was blown away by a master storyteller.

 

Sometimes you have to pinch yourself.

Rod Stewart has been around for ages but even at the age of 74 he shows no sign of slowing down.

 

He promised us a show at the M&S Bank Arena and on a cold and wet December night, we got one to remember.

We figured we knew what we’d get in advance; a highly professional band, well-honed backing singers and a run through his large and surprisingly varied back catalogue.

Rod has been doing this so for so long, we half-anticipated that he’d be dialing it in a touch. After all, at 74 that’s understandable. Rod, like the rest of us, deserves to put his feet up just a little bit now he’s hit his three score years and ten.

What we didn’t expect was such a vibrant and quite frankly, barnstorming show.

And we use the word show rather than gig, because this is what he gave us; a show. We may have been on the banks of the Mersey but this was something that could just as easily have fitted it in the desert in Nevada. Las Vegas or Liverpool; it doesn’t matter. Rod is a consummate showman.

The word “show” however, comes with all sorts of cheesy connotations. There’s an implication of style over substance, a lack of sincerity and tired old tropes.

 

Yet there was none of that with Rod Stewart.

Stewart is someone who clearly loves his music. He’s been doing it for so long; over half a century. No one does anything for that long if they don’t love it. That’s longer than most people work for.

Most people have hung up there working boots a decade earlier than Rod, but he still keeps going, still with that urge to both entertain and communicate.

Despite the really foul weather (more Reykjavik than Vegas it must be said), everyone was determined to have a good time and Stewart kicked it off big style with a stirring rendition of Some Guys Have All The Luck and followed that up with a cover of the great Sam Cooke’s Having A Party.

“It’s pissing down out there,” he said two songs in. “But we’re going to give you a show.” And he did.

Rod Stewart has that rare gift of not only being able to pen some marvelous songs himself; Maggie May, The Killing of Georgie (both of which were highlights of the show) but he’s a prime interpreter of other’s tunes.

Yet he doesn’t simply cover songs. He does more than that. There‘s something about him that harks back to an earlier age. It’s the songs themselves that are important.

Stewart seems to add more, add something intangible and his own unique touch and he’s done this throughout his career, whether with The Jeff Back GroupThe Faces or as a solo artist.

There’s a deep love for the music and for the songs. A deep understanding- and it should be said, a deep reverence for them. We could hear it in his versions of It Takes Two and Downtown Train.

It’s too easy and too lazy to rush to instant judgement and presume that he’s simply going through the motions but when you see and hear him performing such classics as these, then it hits you. He’s been listening to music for longer, much longer than most of just have been alive (something he mentioned between songs with a wry smile).

 

 

And he kept those songs going through the show; Forever Young, First Cut Is The Deepest, I Don’t Want To Talk About It, Have I Told You LatelyStewart kept them coming one after another and with a remarkably powerful voice which seemed to get stronger and stronger as the show went on.

At the end, it was a great night, a perfect two hours away from the storms crossing the Atlantic and whipping the shores of the Mersey, in the company of master storyteller who still loves his craft as much as he does his famed model trains.

He made us forget the pissing down rain and by the time we left the Arena with those songs in our heart and smiles on our faces, it had stopped raining. The magic of Rod.

 

REVIEW: Veteran showman Rod Stewart showing no signs of slowing down

When musicians profess a love of a certain city during a concert, the sentiment is usually to be taken with a pinch of salt.

But fans of Rod Stewart, who returned to Aberdeen for the second time in five months at the weekend, can take some comfort that the 74-year-old really does seem to have a special place in his heart for the north-east.

When he last visited, the rocker brought the curtain down on the AECC with a hit-packed show.

On Saturday, he took to the stage for a sensational concert at P&J Live, which had fans singing along throughout – and even on the bus home.

As his last concert was so recent, Stewart began by telling fans he had made an effort to pencil in tracks which he didn’t perform last time.

But the loudest cheers of the night were reserved for the classics – nobody seemed to mind hearing the likes of Maggie May or Tonight’s The Night again.

There was a party atmosphere throughout, capped off with large balloons bobbing into the excited crowd as Stewart sang Baby Jane.

Among the fans in attendance was 90-year-old Conon Bridge woman Ida Donnachie – who recently featured in the Press and Journal as she knitted a pair of socks for the star and wanted to present them to him at the gig.

The pensioner was thrilled when she managed to pass them to Stewart’s manager along with a note.

 

Live Report: Rod Stewart, 3Arena, Dublin

I was asked on the wireless recently what live act I'd love to see that I hadn’t already. I mumbled some vague answer about Elvis but I really should have mentioned Sir Roderick David Stewart. The records he made after his big break with The Jeff Beck group – from 1969’s An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down to 74’s Smiler are masterpieces that combine very good time rock n’ roll with warm readings of songs by everyone from Elton John to Ewan MacColl. Not only that, but he managed to chip in with The Faces at the same time, the absolute kings of the boozy bonhomie boogie. Many might claim that he went off the boil after he moved to America for a life of champers and a conveyor belt of leggy blondes, but why the hell would one want to be a rock n’ roll star in the first place if you couldn’t get involved in that kind of messing? And anyway, he was still knocking out singles like ‘Hot Legs’, and if you can’t take any joy from that, you should check your pulse. Most importantly of all he did everything with a massive grin on his mug. Bowie might have been from outer space, Jagger may have reeked of dangerous decadence but Rod looked like he was having more sport than anyone else on the planet – read his book if you haven’t already, you’ll laugh yourself in half - and that is reason enough alone to love him.

 I was excited so, and I wasn’t on my own. The 3Arena was packed with eager, smiling faces, a few Celtic jerseys, scarfs, bits of cheap neon – you get the idea, for a lot of people here the party had started well before Rod took the stage to a roar and launched into the old Persuaders number ‘Some Guys Have All The Luck’. Let us examine the evidence – the set looks like it was transported, bulb by bulb, from Vegas, I count six – six! – fabulous looking women in outfits that could only be described as “snug” (FYI: I’m quite probably going to refer back to these women a few times, if that sort of thing troubles you, then I suggest you leave now, this review won’t be for you), the band are all grinning and moving about, and Rod himself looks fantastic. He’s in pinstripes and polka dots, with some sort of snakeskin shoes on (“Why does one of them have a red light in the heel?” Ms Coyle asks, sat beside me. “In case he needs to make a right turn?” I posit), he’s making faces, he’s wiggling his arse, and his voice – one of the very greatest in rock n’ roll – is more than up to the job. If you’re still not convinced there’s a Celtic logo on the bass drum and a big wailing Eighties sax solo. During ‘Having A Party’ the ladies are doing a variation on the can can which certainly succeeds in distracting me from what is hardly the greatest song of all time, but everyone’s already singing along, so what harm?

“Good evening friends, we had a sensational night last night, so let’s beat that!” he bellows before ‘It Takes Two’ and then “What a marvellous start to the evening, I did a lot of fucking talking last night, I’m not doing that tonight, this is for all the servicemen, thank you gentlemen” An accordion leads us into ‘Rhythm Of My Heart’, Rod puts his fist in the air, sticks out his gut and does a walkabout with the mic stand in his hand, a move he pretty much invented so that the Steven Tylers and Chris Robinsons of the world would have something to do. The women are now marching together, looking like the kind of pinups you used to see painted on the fuselage of fighter planes, and the song ends with a sample from the Churchill “fight them on the beaches” speech. Again, it’s not Rod’s greatest song, but they’ve certainly put a few bob into the production.

“One we didn’t do last night” into ‘It’s A Heartache’, the old Bonnie Tyler chestnut that could have been written with Stewart’s sand paper and honey pipes in mind. Never mind all the screens, this is what we want and the whole place joins him for the chorus, and what’s better than one fiddle solo? That’s right, two of them. The women in the band are not just eye candy for the hopelessly unreconstructed dinosaurs amongst us, they’re gifted musicians and singers too. I’m not sure what’s going on in ‘Forever Young’ though. Rod wanders off in the middle to make room for some sort of quasi- Riverdance bollocks, tap dancing, banjos, a Lambeg drum, and women spinning around like a Bord Failte ad. Things start to make more sense when he returns and starts slapping his own arse like he’s riding an imaginary horse. Anyway,  that's out of their system and we finally get down to the classics. Stewart has always been an underrated song writer and ‘The Killing Of Georgie’ is a diamond, and ballsy subject matter for a jack the lad back in 1976. It’s delivered in front of Broadway signs and helped along by backing vocals and three sets of shakers, although that glorious coda is cut too short.

Rod Stewart @3Arena 4/12/19

“I recorded this with my old mate Ronnie Wood, only two takes but two bottles of wine” The heavily Hammond-ed ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ is a surprise and a delight. Two spotlights pick out Rod and if anyone was worried about the voice, his singing of the “I was Just, I was Just” section shows them the door. The sax player – he must be getting paid by the note – comes back in after a very fine approximation of Wood’s guitar style  but he fits in well this time. “All right, let’s get rocking!” ‘Young Turks’ has most of us, your correspondent included, up out of our seats, arms in the air, roaring along, and not just to Rod’s lyrics either, we’re all giving it out to the keyboard riff coming from the man behind the sparkly Johanna too. I didn’t notice but another drummer has turned up and Rod slips off again so we get a percussion solo which is too long to be ignored but not long enough to sneak out to the jacks and back. Good thing too as I would have missed ‘Tonight’s The Night’ complete with a porn sax solo – Rod is getting his money’s worth out of this lad. ‘You know what they say,” says Ms Coyle, “where there’s brass, there’s…” “Muck?” “Class, Pat. Class.”

Rod causes a bit of concern when he brings up the new album and opens the immortal ‘Maggie May’ with a dodgy orchestral arrangement but once it kicks into proper gear, everyone’s up waving scarfs and miming stealing their Daddy’s cue and making a living out of playing pool. “You must have heard of Tom Waits, He was happy I recorded this, it put a roof on his house” he says by way of introduction to a great ‘Downtown Train’ complete with footage of Rod’s model railway set up. There’s an instrumental interlude while clothes are changed, and the sax man cometh, again, but at least it’s mercifully short.

He’s back, in a spiffing blue, spangly jacket – “wrong colour for a Celtic supporter!” - for an acoustic-y set that kicks off with ‘Dirty Old Town’ and then it’s lump-in-my-throat time for ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’ and ‘I Don’t Want To Talk About It’ and the gigantic chorus of ‘You’re In My Heart’ - not to mind “the big bosomed lady with the Dutch accent” - was worth leaving the house for on its own. Singing ‘Grace’ in Dublin is like shooting fish in a barrel with an M16 but Rod takes this song that we’ve all heard at a million closing times and gives it life, his is a voice that could sing you a terminal diagnosis and you’d still be waving and warbling along. The set finishes with Van Morrison’s ‘Have I Told You Lately’ and there’s something in my eye.

The lads in the band all get a solo before the women, now in eye-popping leopard skin, go through Donna Summer’s ‘She Works Hard For The Money’ and the world and its Ma uses this as an excuse to visit the facilities. Rod now has his own leopard skin jacket and spats which bode well for the time we have left, and here we go. I’d love to tell you all the details that followed, about how Rod played the greatest single of all time – ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” – followed by the second greatest single of all time – ‘Baby Jane’ complete with TOTP graphics and sax solos, and then went into The Faces’ ‘Stay With Me’ - “With a face like that you’ve got nothing to laugh about” – complete with slide guitar and false stops. Yes, I’d love to tell you all about it, but I spent that time throwing shapes, shouting, hugging strangers, “singing” and “dancing”. A good half of it was spent faced in the other direction, wiggling my arse like the hero on the stage. I was cutting the rug out in the aisle until staff “persuaded” me back to my seat and Ms Coyle evil-eyed the two people next to her until they left so she could have more boogie room. Never mind all that end of year lists stuff that you're supposed to like, this section on its own was the best gig I’ve been at in a long time.

Curfew is approaching so Rod and gang are back out for a quick go at ‘Sailing’ - although we can’t hear him because the thousands here have taken over and even the ‘Hotel California’ styled guitar solo can’t ruin it – and then he waves us home. Outside it’s cold, misty, and it's raining, but no one's complaining. Rod Stewart is the greatest. Never A Dull Moment.

 

Rod Stewart: crotch-waggling imp turns misty-eyed troubadour to lead us to singalong heaven

Review: It’s cheese with everything as pop’s great bluesman serenades Dublin’s 3Arena

The Voice of Rod ranks as among classic pop’s seven wonders. It descends from on-high at the 3Arena, whisking the audience off to soft rock singalong heaven. This being Rod Stewart, a little cheekiness and a lot of schmaltz are part of the bargain. But it’s hard to argue with his old-school, cheese-with-everything showmanship.

True, that thunderclap rasp is not quite as epic as in his 1970s heyday. Nor does the bleached cockatoo quiff sparkle like it used to. Yet despite Stewart’s pensionable status, age is a long way from withering popular music’s great bluesman.

The hits are ticked off raffishly by Stewart and his backing vocalists (wrapped in backfoil to ensure we can see them). He belts out You Wear It Well with Cheshire-cat insouciance. And Maggie May sparkles brightly on a cold winter’s night.

Stewart is in many ways the rock stars other rock stars dream of being when they grow up. Decades before Oasis donned a parka in anger, he helped create the stereotype of the 24-hour party person. There were champagne baths, supermodel girlfriends, tellies chucked from hotel windows. In his tax exile days he once flew from Los Angeles to Dublin so that he could watch the Scottish soccer team on the telly.

 
 

That old twinkle endures and not just because of his sparkling jacket. He radiates roguish zing negotiating Sam Cooke’s Having a Party and The Persuaders’ Some Guys Have All The Luck. The latter is a song Stewart obviously reckons could have been written about him.

But as the decades have flown past so Stewart has nurtured his introspective side. Though born in London his Scottish roots imbued in him a love of Glasgow Celtic FC.

It was at a Celtic match that he first encountered the Frank and Seán O’Meara lament Grace, about Grace Gifford, wife of executed 1916 Rising leader Joseph Plunkett. Her story has had a transformative effect on Stewart, whose voice cracks as he negotiates the ballad (he will drag the O’Mearas up for a boggling boogie during Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?).

This is during an acoustic section that elsewhere sees Stewart putting his feet up and variously covering Ewan MacColl’s Dirty Old Town and Van Morrison’s Have I Told You Lately.

Any pretence at understatement is dispensed with for the encore. Inevitably, he bashes out Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? – accompanied by a blizzard of balloons – and then Sailing. The juxtaposition reminds us that Stewart, from crotch-waggling imp to misty-eyed troubadour, is a showman for all seasons. Three-weeks before Christmas, this is a yuletide treat with big shiny bells attached.

 

Rod Stewart brings night of good craic and old classics to Belfast

A night of brilliant craic, culture and smashing songs!

He's just weeks away from turning 75, but Rod Stewart proved age is just a number as he took to the Belfast stage last night.

The SSE Arena was warmed up by support act Johnny Mac and the Faithful with a selection of original celtic-folk songs and a few well known tunes such as Dirty Old Town and Galway Girl which set the pace for the rest of the night - and give Rod a teaser backstage that a great crowd were in attendance.

A large white curtain covered the entire stage, which started the screams and whistles from the arena, who were patiently waiting for the main man of the night. Scotland The Brave then bellowed across the stadium to introduce the honorary Scotsman to the stage with his opening song, Some Guys Have All The Luck.

The thrilling set also saw Rod and his VERY impressive backing singers and musicians cover Forever Young, Have I Told You Lately and Maggie May - which was just superb.

Maggie May would be one of my favourite Rod Stewart songs, and his coverage of it last night made me love it even more. Starting off as an acoustic version, Rod give a smirk and delved into the fast pace Maggie May that we all love. The crowd were on their feet clapping and dancing at this cover.

A song I didn't know previous to the show was The Killing of Georgie, which follows a young gay man who was murdered by a New Jersey gang. Rod paid tribute to people of the LGBT+ community that have found comfort in this once very controversial track.

He said: "One man approached me after the track was released and told me that it helped him in his personal life, and that he was in a very dark place until he heard this song. And that, means the world to me. It's not about the money." To which, he received a standing ovation from the supportive concert goers.

And on top of the perfect vocals - I kept having to remind myself Rod is 74 - the performance and detail that went into the show was just so impressive and cultured. The women on stage were empowering and really did do everything, from singing to tap dancing to playing the drums, which were covered in Celtic Football Club badges.

It's no secret that Rod is a mega fan and he showed that last night with video footage of the team and tributes to Jinky Johnstone before singing You're in My Heart - but the biggest Celtic fan of all, little Jay Beatty, was front and centre, with his teddy Hoopy.

Jay and Hoopy danced all night long, cheering and clapping along with Rod - who spotted them from the stage and give a thumbs up to the young Celt.

I was impressed though, at Rod paying respect to the opposing team Rangers FC and fans in the crowd that support their rivals which went down well with the whole crowd, which was great to see two sides of Scottish Football join for a night of good, harmless craic.

In the middle of Do You Think I'm Sexy, balloons of all sizes dropped from the ceiling, and the crowd went mad. The laughs and cheers of young and old was that great that I think we forgot Rod was on stage, we were that distracted by the bouncing props.

Ending a cracking night with Sailing, Rod thanked his fans for a "great Monday night," and I think now it'll be hard to ever top that Monday night again - Hail Hail Rod!

 

CAUGHT LIVE 

Rod Stewart celebrates treble with third gig in a week at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro

ROD Stewart celebrated a treble last night with his third gig in a week at the SSE Hydro.

The Celtic-mad rocker beat cancer this year but admitted: “Glasgow, Saturday night? You can’t beat that!”

Rod could be forgiven for putting his feet up after selling 120million albums during an incredible career.

Instead he is on another epic world tour and in front of a ‘home’ crowd the London-born crooner rattled through his huge back catalogue.

He also threw in top-notch covers for good measure, accompanied by the beautiful Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

And when I say beautiful, I mean beautiful - no one can pull together a team of percussionists and backing singers quite like Rod.

 

It was Rod’s megahits - particularly Maggie May, I Don’t Want to Talk About It and Sailing - that got the biggest cheers from his Tartan Army.

On St Andrew’s Day, the honorary Scotsman was piped in to Scotland The Brave then opened with Some Guys Have All the Luck and Sam Cook's Having A Party.

Throughout a thrilling set he also covered Marvin Gaye's It Takes Two, Van Morrison’s Have I Told You Lately, Tom Waits' Downtown Train and Dirty Old Town by The Pogues, with a nod to Lisbon Lion Jimmy Johnstone who recorded his own version with Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr.

Setlist

Some Guys Have All the Luck

Having a Party

It Takes Two

Rhythm of My Heart

You Wear It Well

Forever Young

The Killing of Georgie

Baby Jane

Tonight’s The Night

Maggie May

Downtown Train

Dirty Old Town

The First Cut Is the Deepest

I Don't Want to Talk About It

You're in My Heart

Grace

Have I Told You Lately

Go Your Own Way

Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?

Twisting the night away

Sailing

He embraced his Irish ancestry during Grace, a love song set against the backdrop of the 1916 Easter Rising.

And he saluted the Glasgow men who fought and died to defeat the Nazis in World War II during Rhythm of My Heart.

It was Rod’s megahits - particularly Maggie May, I Don’t Want to Talk About It and Sailing - that got the biggest cheers from his Tartan Army (it looked like a Bay City Rollers gig at times).

But my own favourite was You’re In My Heart as I got to enjoy it live with my wife Rachel 14 years after it was our wedding song.

Aged 74, Rod still has the songs, the moves the costume changes and the patter - “I’m sweating my bollocks off up here”.

That’s why you’re still in our hearts, Rod.

 

FIRST NIGHT | POP
Rod Stewart review — his voice is no longer a weapon of force
SSE Hydro, Glasgow

Peter Ross
November 27 2019, 5:00pm, The Times

Rod Stewart rarely seemed interested in feeling the sorrow of what he was singing
ROBERTO RICCIUTI/GETTY IMAGES
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★★★☆☆
Once more into the bleach, once more reaching into his repertoire of knee-tremblers and note-benders, Rod Stewart began his three-night stint in Glasgow with the proof of one of pop music’s golden rules: no song was ever improved by him covering it.

His opening take on the Persuaders’ Some Guys Have All the Luck, followed by Sam Cooke’s Having a Party, and Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston’s It Takes Two were lukewarm karaoke cheese. They also established a significant problem — Stewart’s voice is no longer a weapon of sufficient force to outgun the massed firepower of his dozen-strong backing band. For much of the first half he seemed a passenger at his own concert.

That changed with Maggie May. Its charm lies in combining the wistful and the raucous. A new orchestral arrangement showcased the former, Stewart singing the first verse with autumnal restraint before the drums kicked in for the dancehall singalong the crowd craved.

The 1976 single Tonight’s the Night, for all its seductive insouciance, felt uncomfortably dated. Mindful of contemporary sexual politics, would he elide the icky couplet: “Don’t say a word, my virgin child/ Just let your inhibitions run wild”? Nope, the line remained. No one pays much attention to the lyrics of Rod Stewart songs, perhaps not even Rod Stewart. He should.

Far better was a six-song acoustic section that revealed his voice in its gruff beauty. The difficulty here was of a different sort; Stewart rarely seemed interested in feeling the sorrow of what he was singing. The First Cut is the Deepest, although gorgeous, was sung by a man with a broad grin on his face. Stewart is a commitment-phobe, reluctant to give himself over to the emotions of his songbook. The exception was Grace. One could ponder the irony of a song inspired by Irish republicanism being sung by a man sitting on a chair with “Sir Rod” written across it, but hey. Genuinely moving, delivered with clarity and control, it was the highlight of an evening that, much like Stewart’s hair, was rather up and down.

 
 
 

Rock and rolling back the years, Rod is still hot stuff at 74

 

  • Scottish Daily Mail
  •  
  • 28 Nov 2019
  •  
  • By Alan Chadwick
Wearing well: Sir Rod on stage at the SSE Hydro

Review

Sir Rod Stewart (SSE Hydro, Glasgow)

Barnstorming brilliance ★★★★✩

FOR Sir rod Stewart fans in Scotland, news that a throat infection had put the kibosh on the 74year old superstar performing at the royal Variety performance in London earlier this month, ahead of a string of dates in his adopted homeland, was cause for grave concern.

As it was, he did not have to cancel and the buzz at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro on Tuesday was at fever pitch for the first of three nights Sir roderick will be playing in the city, ahead of appearing in Aberdeen.

With the packed arena awash with more tartan trews, bunnets, and scarves than a Bay City rollers reunion – and more Celtic colours than you’d find in The Hoops Bar – the scene was set for a blistering night. And so it proved.

Arriving on stage to the skirl of the pipes, dressed in a yellow tartan jacket and gold hi-tops, supported by a slew of female backing singers/musicians in eye-popping frilly mini-dresses, it was straight into a lively rendition of 80s hit Some Guys Have All The Luck, quickly followed by a cover of Motown classic It Takes Two. Everyone was on their feet from the get-go.

The barnstorming, age-defying, two-hour singalong took in hits from a songbook stretching over 31 albums – from Dirty old Town taken from 1969’s An old raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down, to the beautiful Irish folk song Grace from last year’s Blood red roses.

The iconic rocker (whose costume changes incorporated a sartorial timeline taking in leopard print, a shiny silver suit, and rod the Mod boating blazer elan), has lost none of his energy.

The hips might have creaked a bit as he swivelled them in a raucous and raspy You Wear It Well.

And he then crooned his way through memorable ballads such as a pitch-perfect Sailing and a wonderful The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II). Jokingly acknowledging his sexy backing singers – ‘If they’d been with the band 30 years ago there would have been hell to pay!’– at one point he even sat on one of their laps for a rest.

Sir rod would be the first to admit his voice was never the smoothest. But age has not withered it as much as some might have feared. And with the set stretching to more than 20 showstopping tunes, to pick out highlights seems almost churlish.

But a heart pumping D-Day commemoration rendition of rhythm of My Heart, set against a video backdrop of poppy fields, is a stirring, poignant touch.

Stay With Me was a punchy treat, while a pared-down and acoustic The First Cut Is The Deepest and I Don’t Wanna Talk About It hit the spot. Hell, even the disco pop-by-numbers of Baby Jane had me singing along.

‘Youth’s a mask and it don’t last’? Don’t you believe it. Sir rod’s still Forever Young.

 

      ROD STEWART, SSE Hydro, Glasgow

Rod Stewart hails from London but Glasgow feels very much like a home gig for the multi-award winning singer. His grand entrance is set to bagpipes, his drumkits display the Glasgow Celtic badge and the audience is packed with tartan scarfs and flags donning the colours of his beloved football team.

The production is huge and the massive screens ensure that nobody in the vast arena misses a thing. The backdrop changes for each song and there's superb video content displayed on the screens giving a nod to his Vegas residency and paying tribute to the anniversary of the D-Day Landings.

Stewart beams his way through hit after hit- clearly having a ball onstage. He interacts with the crowd and adds in a dig about other people that have mimed on that stage and you'll never see him not 'singing from his guts'. And sing from his guts he does as he belts out "Rhythm of My Heart", "You Wear It Well" and "You're In My Heart".

There's an acoustic section where Stewart's raspy vocals really have the chance to shine with the likes of "Grace" and "The First Cut Is The Deepest". He's joined onstage by talented musicians who also double up as his backing dancers.

For almost two hours Rod Stewart holds the crowd in the palm of his hand with infectious sing-a-longs and an impressive amount of energy. This tour perfectly sums up what has made Rod Stewart an icon for over five decades.

 

 

Rod Stewart, 74, takes to the stage in Manchester on first night of his UK tour... after his secret three year battle with prostate cancer was revealed

Sir Rod Stewart, 74, proved he's still a great entertainer when he took to the stage in Manchester for the first night of his UK tour on Saturday.

The singer put on a jovial display as he entertained the crowd, looking dapper in a smart jacket with gold embroidery.

The musical icon has bounced back from his secret three year battle with prostate cancer and was looking the picture of health during the concert.

 

Born entertainer: Sir Rod Stewart, 74, proved he's still a great entertainer when he took to the stage in Manchester for the first night of his UK tour on Saturday

Rod teamed his jazzy jacket with a cream shirt and a pair of smart trousers, showcasing his signature style.

The star played a back catalog of his most famous hits, including Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?, You Wear It Well, You're In My Heart, and of course Maggie May.

Across his five decade long career, the singer has had 26 top ten singles in the UK and 17 top ten albums in the United States.

 
 
 
 

Rod Stewart review – raucous energy and magical singalongs

4 / 5 stars4 out of 5 stars.

Manchester Arena
The 74-year-old is all smiles as he hurtles through his songbook from his very first album to the classics

Roderick Stewart doesn’t seem to do many things by halves. This month, the singer proudly unveiled his model train set, a 124 ft long epic based on postwar Manhattan and Chicago that has taken him 23 years to build. He is on his third marriage (to Penny Lancaster, since 2007), is a father of eight children by five mothers, has made 31 studio albums and sold more than 120m records. Here, he performs for more than two hours and – while he sits down (on a chair labelled “Sir Rod”) for the acoustic section – seems to have as much energy left for the raucous encore of the Faces’ Stay With Me as he has for the opening 80s cruise through Some Guys Have All The Luck.

The crowd are marvelling at the 74-year-old’s fine shape when he reveals he’s not even the oldest Stewart in the building: “My brother Don is in the audience. He’s 90! Good old Don!” The singer’s face is all smiles and emotion and he’s not always this engaged in singing. That he’s in the mood becomes apparent as he states: “It’s going to be a good one, this. I can feel it.” And so it proves.

There’s a Celtic instrumental, superb video screens, a version of Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way sung by his troupe of female musicians and a sombre dedication to those who lost lives in the D-day landings. His numerous costume changes rifle through everything from a punk rock boating blazer to garish gold shoes that appear to have been borrowed from the genie in a nearby performance of Aladdin. Some 23 songs hurtle through his songbook, from his very first album, 1969’s An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down to 2018’s Blood Red Roses.

Bizarrely, he seems surprised that this audience know Dirty Old Town, from his debut album, even though Ewan MacColl wrote it about adjoining Salford, but he remembers Manchester’s Twisted Wheel, “where I started my career. It’s probably a Starbucks now”. Before Hambone Willie Newbern and Sunnyland Slim’s Rollin’ and Tumblin’ he observes that “all of us who came through in the 60s – Elton, Bowie, the Stones – listened to the blues” and he turns history teacher again to introduce Irish republican song, Grace, about Easter Rising leader Joseph Plunkett, who faced a firing squad 15 minutes after marrying his sweetheart, Grace, in jail.

There are, of course, classics. “Ronnie Wood and I recorded this in 1972. It took two bottles of wine and two takes,” he chuckles, pouring soul into Etta James’s I’d Rather Go Blind. He reveals that his sublime 1976 hit, The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II), about a gay friend’s homophobic murder, was “banned by the BBC. Fuck ‘em!”

The singer’s famous rasp starts raspier than ever but gets better and better as the pipes warm up and he’s flying by You Wear It Well and a new, more orchestrated Maggie May. An acoustic section of heartbreak ballads – The First Cut Is the Deepest, I Don’t Want to Talk About It and the rest – is magical, and You’re in My Heart becomes one of many singalongs.

If there is a dip, it’s disco era grind Da Ya Think I’m Sexy. Stewart appears bored by now and the song is partly drowned out by the loud bangs from the exploding balloons that are falling from the ceiling. By contrast, he sings Sailing like he recorded it yesterday. The audience’s bellowing is louder than most football crowds, and the septuagenarian’s accurate parting verdict is: “That was fuckin’ great!”

 

Review: Rod Stewart at the Manchester Arena

"It’s a pleasure to see an icon remain iconic" - Rod Stewart wowed crowds at Manchester Arena on Saturday night

With a career spanning across five decades, and at the age of 74, it’s fair to be apprehensive about what Rod Stewart can bring to the stage.

He seems a far cry away from his rock band beginnings, especially when you’ve read the recent news about his model railway enthusiasms.

It would be easy to feel out of place surrounded by an audience who’ve been with him since the very beginning, but Maggie May is a universal banger, and amongst a sea of tartan scarves, everyone is simply at Manchester Arena on Saturday night to have a good time.

The lights go down and the screech of bagpipes and drums announces Rod’s imminent arrival, before the curtain raises to reveal a Las Vegas-themed stage.

Strolling onto stage, Stewart opens the show with Some Guys Have all the Luck.

We go right into a cover of Sam Cooke’s Having a Party. Though his hips may be stiffer, the vocals are, luckily for us, as strong as ever.

 
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