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By Mike Weatherford
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
May 15, 2014 - 3:21pm
Wednesday, May 7, 2014 | 9:24 a.m.
It was a moment of music history. They barely spoke a word, but they stood in reverence of each other as they performed onstage for the first time ever in their combined 90 years of music entertainment.
Raspy rocker Rod Stewart hushed his Caesars Palace audience Tuesday night: “Ladies and gentleman, the world’s greatest guitar player — Carlos Santana!” and the 4,000-plus audience erupted in cheers and a standing ovation.
Together, they performed a blistering rendition of “I’d Rather Go Blind” that Rod had first performed with his group The Faces in the early 1970s and seen here with The Rolling Stones Ronnie Wood on guitar on You Tube.
Rod wowed with his vocals and bowed to the guitar guru, on his knees at one point in admiration of the guitar solos.
“We’re going to play a few dates on the East Coast starting very soon,” he told the enthusiastic crowd. Those 18 select dates start May 23 in Albany, N.Y., when Rod finishes his current Las Vegas run at the Colosseum and Carlos packs his traveling bags from his Las Vegas home. The tour runs through Aug. 20 and includes four Canadian cities in between Santana’s Corazon Tour, which includes a weekend of shows in Atlantic City.
“They are both huge fans of each other’s music. They have tremendous respect for each other. They’d always wanted to play together, but it never proved possible with their schedules. You could say this was years in the making, and it finally happened,” I was told.
Carlos returns home to resume his residency at House of Blues in Mandalay Bay on Nov. 5, where he has extended his contract. There is a Wicked Whisper & Racy Rumor that Rod and Carlos could team up again for Caesars Palace shows and might be part of an all-star concert being plotted for the opening night of the new MGM Resorts arena in May 2015.
I was reliably told that discussions have already begun between MGM and AEG officials about staging that first concert.
“It’s highly possible you could see The Rolling Stones as the big act. Can you imagine Elton John being part of the show, too? It’s highly possible you could see Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr reunited in some way. It’s highly possible that Rod and Carlos could be involved with it.
“It’s going to be the ultimate blockbuster superstar music show ever staged. Everybody has already decided that. Now it’s putting all the pieces together with the superstars. We’ve got two years to set everybody, and that’s already begun.”
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Wednesday, May 7, 201
In introducing Carlos Santana on Tuesday night, Rod Stewart spoke of the song about to be performed originally being recorded “after a glass of wine and three tokes.”
The tune was one Stewart recorded ages ago, “I’d Rather Go Blind,” on his 1972 breakthrough album, “Never a Dull Moment.” Etta James first recorded the song five years prior, but Tuesday it belonged to the unlikely pairing of Stewart and Santana. The two have only in common their status as rock royalty and their shared career arc, booming to stardom in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Despite dissimilar styles (Santana known for his Latin-rock fusion and Stewart for his instantly recognizable raspy voice), the two have sold many millions of albums and singles over the years and are two of the most enduring artists ever in contemporary music.
Finally, after all those decades, the two are co-headlining a tour this year. As Stewart said in bringing out Santana at the Colosseum in Caesars Palace, “This is the first time we’ve been onstage together, to my knowledge.” Santana did not address the crowd aside from his spirited playing. The two stood side-by-side, and at one point Stewart took a knee while cajoling a Santana solo. The guitar great paused for a moment as Stewart laughed, then played through the solo as Stewart slapped his leg.
The Stewart-Santana U.S. and Canadian tour is aptly titled “The Voice. The Guitar. The Songs.” It opens May 23 in Albany, N.Y., and closes Aug. 20 in Wantagh, N.Y. There are no dates on the West Coast, but Santana returns to House of Blues in November. Stewart, too, is back at his Las Vegas venue this year, with dates scheduled in September, October and November.
Stewart said at the top, “I am going to struggle to hit some notes tonight,” as the dry desert air can do a number on a singer’s voice. But the show was highly entertaining, as Stewart strode through the crowd for “Sweet Little Rock ‘N’ Roller” and again booted 20 or so signed soccer balls into the crowd, which was at or near a sellout.
As for Santana, the appearance at the Colosseum continued his own mini-tour of Las Vegas performance venues. He’s headlined at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel and House of Blues at Mandalay Bay and also has appeared with keyboardist Gregg Rolie in an unannounced performance with Journey, reuniting with Neal Schon from the days of Santana’s band in the early 1970s. The three are working together on “Santana IV,” being recorded at Odds On Studios in Henderson, due for release this year.
Rod Rocks Chile
Rod Stewart sang, danced and even played football in the Fifth
With a jacket and a bright beam of light that made it shine more than disco ball appeared on the stage of the Quinta Vergara important British musician, who swept the fifth day of Viña 2014.
Who turned out the lights? No doubt that Rod Stewart was not! Because the British artist was on stage at the Quinta Vergara and landed with glitter to give away.
came with a shiny silver jacket that made perfect game with a beam of light that pointed directly to him and his blond hair , which made him outshine disco ball .
And if that were not enough, his backup singers , who entered the stage as Aretha Franklin , vienieron the three with bright pink beaded dresses , like the trumpeter and saxophonist, two beautiful girls who brought the same dress.
had predicted a 90-minute show on stage with a single intervention of animators to deliver the prizes and serious restrictions on the press .
When the show took about half an hour of hits, the English invited on stage to his daughter Ruby Stewart , who stole all look , and incidentally, the singer transformed into the ideal father
But it was not there , the blonde artist presented his single " Just one more day" and then sang the classic "Forever Young" with his famous father hyper .
After the meeting of the (sexy ) daughter of Rod down Fifth , the " chascón " singer gave way to an acoustic segment of his show, which included some Chilean musicians to accompany with violins and basses.
Songs like "The first cut is the deepest " (originally by Cat Stevens) and " Have i told you lately" were chanted by a " Monster" star delivered , nothing more and nothing less than 69 years.
In a small pause to take a breath , and through a translator , good Stewart dedicated the public a " I'm very happy to be here."
Then, if we thought the show would have it only English to him or his daughter of actors , the chorus of the band took the Quinta Vergara to version the classic " Proud Mary" by Creedence Clearwater Revival . A true sign of talent, and why not , a lot of sensuality and energy.
Now with a third costume change , Rod Stewart returned to the stage to perform " You're in my heart" and " Hot Legs ," a song in which he started throwing footballs signed to the public , showing
that , despite having nearly 70 years, still has
strength and skills to practice the " beautiful game " .
After nearly an hour and a half presentation, Carolina de Moras and Araneda Rafa took the stage to make delivery of all prizes to Stewart , who kindly allowed recognized by the public.
Note that I ever seem uncomfortable when it comes to Anglo artists , was less awkward than usual thanks to a timely De Moras , with fluent English , explained how the British consisted awards .
Finally "Da ya think I'm sexy? " and " Sailing" closed the tremendous spectacle of Rod Stewart , who fell away from the stage.
Posted: January 27, 2014 |
IT wasn't the first time that Rod Stewart had been asked about basing a musical on his work.
Ben Elton's pitch had an original story that had little to do with the superstar's own life, going from working-class London to fronting rock group the Faces, then international pop idol.
Set in Detroit, Tonight's The Night would tell the story of Stu, a shy young man, so tongue-tied that he cannot find the courage to declare his love to the girl of his dreams. So he makes a deal with the Devil and trades his soul with that of Stewart, his hero.
"In the past, any ideas for musicals revolving around my songs just didn't work for me," says Stewart, 69. "It was only when we were approached to do Tonight's The Night that the idea really took off."
Says Elton: "I initially approached him about a musical because his songs are all about storytelling and I felt that a great story could grow from them.
"I came up with a story that reminds us of that thing we're always been told over and over again in drama – "to thine own self be true".
He sent a script to Stewart's manager, who liked it, but Elton is unsure if the star has read it, even now, more than a decade later.
But he adds: "He came to our workshop and turned to me at the end and said, 'Well, you've made me a legend, haven't you?' – which was hilarious because he's been a legend all along!"
Since its premiere in London in 2003, the musical, which includes hits such as Maggie May, Baby Jane, Hot Legs, Sailing and Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?, has played to sell-out audiences across the UK.
Although the jukebox musical genre isn't favoured by theatre critics, Elton believes they have a place in the theatre.
"Jukeboxes are not something to be ashamed of," laughs the former stand-up comedian, who wrote TV comedy Blackadder, several bestselling books and the Queen musical We Will Rock You.
"They are filled with memories and dreams and love and laughter and they are good, fun things. The theatre can be good fun.
"It's a perfectly legitimate and honourable thing to seek to entertain the public with music that they love, and the fact that the music is old and the story is new strikes me as no more reprehensible than attaching new music to an old story, as with The Lion King and Billy Elliot."
Manchester Evenin news
You would expect a musical featuring the songs of Rod Stewart to be a hit with his devoted fans.
But theatregoers of all musical persuasions can expect to be won over by this charmer of a jukebox musical based on the Scottish rocker's rich songbook.
The songs of Stewart are woven perfectly into musical theatre style, and the arrangements for the stage are wonderful.
Toe-tapping old classics Baby Jane and Maggie May and tearjerkers such as I Don't Want To Talk About It are injected with punchy new life by a bright young cast including Sugababes singer Jade Ewen, who is almost unrecognisable in her role as the feisty, smoking, leather jacket wearing Dee Dee.
The ensemble are fantastic but Jade's voice is simply sublime, especially on The First Cut Is The Deepest, given the rapt attention it deserved from the audience.
Written by comedian Ben Elton, who also penned that other jukebox megahit We Will Rock You in tribute to Queen, the story is about a lovestruck young man called Stu who strikes a deal with the devil to trade his soul for Rod Stewart's.
This may sound ridiculous but it's all in the spirit of the jape. And the moral behind the tale is to be true to yourself.
Ben Heathcote is fabulous as the awkward mechanic who becomes a strutting rock and roll rebel in the hope of winning over his sweetheart Mary.
And he sounds uncannily like a young Rod throughout the musical, which in places feels more like a greatest hits concert.
Stacked with a line-up of statuesque dancers that would have the real-life Rod singing Hot Legs in an instant, this is a show that doesn't just wake up Maggie but the entire crowd.
Rod fans were calling out for their favourite songs, literally dancing in the aisles and enthusiastically swaying along to the finale of We Are Sailing while wearing the paper sailor hat handed to them on arrival - a nice touch.
Tonight's the Night is for anyone who enjoys great music and a night of tip-top entertainment.
The only way it could have been improved is by an appearance from hot Rod himself.
By: Nick Krewen
He may be the spryest 68-year old on the planet.
We’re not exactly sure what it is that Rod Stewart sprinkles on his Wheaties to keep himself so youthfully agile, but Sunday night’s performance at the Air Canada Centre revealed a man that could give Dorian Gray a run for his money.
Over the course of a two-hour show packed with most of his greatest hits, Stewart certainly gave the adoring crowd of approximately 17,000 a run for theirs, dancing and marching, slipping and sliding, executing jumping jacks and, at one point, even falling to the stage on his back — arse and legs pointed skyward — before picking himself up and making a joke about it.
And of course, there’s his usual shtick near the end of the show when he kicks 30 or 40 autographed soccer balls into the crowd while singing “Hot Legs,” losing his place only occasionally when he needed to aim the ball for a well-placed punt.
But if you’re wondering why this tour is called “Live the Life,” the affable Scotsman with scruffy locks pretty much covered every angle and definition possible relating to the term.
There was opulence: Stewart, initially dressed in a silver suit, black shirt, silver tie and polka dot socks, was accompanied by a 14-piece band consisting of both sexes. Including a harp player. When’s the last time you heard a harp solo in concert? But Stewart had Julia Thornton pluck one during an acoustic rendition of the Van Morrison-penned “Have I Told You Lately” — further accompanied by an additional seven-piece Toronto-based string section — that added to the music spoils.
There was family: Stewart trotted out his 26-year-old daughter Ruby to sing a song of her own, before joining dear old Dad for a duet of “Forever Young.” Father Stewart also praised his own father during “Can’t Stop Me Now,” projecting an image of the two hugging on one of several huge screens as he sang about the early years of his career, a new song from his recent album Time.
There was history: although most of Stewart’s raspy-voiced material consisted of his biggest solo hits — “Maggie May,” “You Wear It Well,” “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?,” the written-in-Toronto chart-topper “You’re in My Heart” and “Tonight’s the Night” — he did reach back to his Faces days for the rowdy rocker “Stay With Me.” He also ran a short home movie of a club jam involving Long John Baldry, Eric Burdon and his current opening act, Steve Winwood.
And there’s Stewart’s rather charming personality. Just after completing the opening one-two punch of “This Old Heart Of Mine” and “Having a Party,” Stewart bowed to the crowd and asked them “to please accept my humble apologies” for having to bump the date of the show, which was originally booked for April.
“I’ve added three extra songs to the set we don’t usually do, and rightfully so. We’ll make it up to you this evening.”
Well, the only truly unexpected set list appearance was the soulful mid-’90s hit “The Motown Song” (Montreal got both “The Killing of Georgie Pt. 1 and 2” and “Sailing” on Saturday night) but one didn’t call Stewart on it because he compensated the crowd in so many other ways, not the least through his heartfelt singing and by offering just enough novelty in many of his hit arrangements to freshen them up.
He was a lot of fun, and the pizzazz couldn’t help but put a smile on your face.
If Rod Stewart’s performance was the definition of flamboyant, opener Steve Winwood was the direct opposite.
Ambling out to their instruments at 7:30 p.m. sharp with Winwood wearing a green plaid shirt and sporting grey mutton chops, the audience could be forgiven if they thought it was the tech crew arriving to conduct a warm-up sound check.
It was only after Winwood positioned himself at the B-3 organ and began the first notes of “Secrets” that the show was on, and the former Traffic leader and key Spencer Davis Group member kept it jammy and low-key.
Using unusual instrumentation of keyboards, fretless guitar, reeds, drums and percussion, Winwood kept the show focused on memory lane, using his own half-century of history: Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and “Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys;” Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home;” the Spencer Davis Group’s “I’m A Man” and “Gimme Some Lovin’” were all showcased in an extended jam format.
Throw in the more recent nod to “Higher Love,” and Winwood had the crowd groovin’ for an hour with his soulful voice and his band’s chops.
Not quite Rod Stewart’s approach, but Winwood proved he could provide a few kicks of his own at about a quarter of the stage set budget.
Still, one gets the impression that even if Winwood continues to enjoy performing past his current age of 65, Stewart will be the one literally running circles around him . . . even when he hits birthday No. 80.
By Jane Stevenson
TORONTO - Not all rockers know how to grow old gracefully on stage - or off for that matter.
But Brit veterans Rod Stewart and Steve Winwood proved to be a formidable duo, for different reasons, as they wrapped up the North American leg of their Live The Life tour on Sunday night at the Air Canada Centre in front of 15,000 fans.
As Rod The Mod promised fans, it was “memorable,” not only for Stewart’s expert showman abilities - not to mention boyish playfulness and love of campy fun - but Winwood’s serious musicianship with a definite jazz bent in his advancing years.
“Thank you for coming out on such a bloody horrible evening!” said the raspy-voiced and still spikey blond-haired Stewart, 68, initially dressed in a grey silk suit and backed by a 13 musicians on a sleek white stage brimming with impressive video screens and lights.
Stewart was, of course, referring to his arrival in the city following the first major snowstorm of the season.
“You’ve had enough snow haven’t you?” said the singer after some fake stuff fell inside the arena during Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas complete with Christmas tree.
But despite the inhospitable weather - Stewart said it was a struggle getting from his show in Montreal on Saturday night to Toronto - the crowd was in a good mood for one of their perenially favourite singers who commented: “For a Sunday night crowd, you’ve got lots of energy!”
Rod The Mod kicked off his two-hour set with two Motown covers, This Old Heart Of Mine and Having a Party, before getting to his own You Wear It Well, Tonight’s the Night, Rhythm of My Heart - which he dedicated to “those who fought for our freedom on the beaches of Normandy,” and The Faces classic Stay With Me.
He even offered up tunes that he normally doesn’t perform like The Motown Song.
“We only rehearsed this, this afternoon, so it could be a complete cock up,” said Stewart.
The London-born singer also brought his daughter Ruby (from his ‘80s relationship with Kelly Emberg) for her Toronto performing debut - the two also appear on stage at his Las Vegas show at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace which just extended its run for another two years - as she sang one of her own songs, Just Another Day, so her dad could go “backstage and fluff his hair for you all.”
And then father - who returned in a fuschia suit and lime grey socks as only he can pull off - and daughter dueted on Forever Young.
There was also a quieter, less compelling acoustic part of the evening with Stewart, his band and some classical players from Toronto performing The First Cut Is the Deepest, Brighton Beach - the first of two songs from his 2013 album, Time - Have I Told You Lately and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, complete with Christmas tree.
Thankfully, Stewart then reverted to such energetic tunes as Can’t Stop Me Now, also from Time, and Sweet Little Rock & Roller, the latter which saw him lying down on the stage with his legs over his head.
“I fell over there - did you see that?” said Stewart. “I’d fallen and couldn’t get up!”
He also had a good line about the next song, I’d Rather Go Blind, which he recorded with Faces co-hort Ronnie Wood in 1972: “Three takes, one bottle of brandy!”
Such Stewart crowd pleasers as You’re in My Heart, Hot Legs - with the Celtic Football Club supporter kicking out soccer ball after autographed soccer ball into the audience - and Maggie May brought the show to a rousing conclusion before the encore number Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? that saw balloons and streamers rain down on the audience.
“It’s such a pleasure to share a stage with a real icon,” said Stewart of Winwood, earlier in the show before displaying some vintage black and white footage of the two of them playing with the late bluesman Long John Baldry when Stewart was 20 and Winwood was just 17.
“I appear to be hogging the show as usual,” quipped Stewart.
Winwood, 65, still adept on both organ and guitar, was joined by four musicians for his jammy hour-long opening set that showed off his diverse soul-psych-rock career with The Spencer Davis Group (I’m A Man, Gimme Some Lovin’), Blind Faith (Can’t Find My Way Home) and Traffic (Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, Dear Mr. Fantasy) and his own ‘80s solo success (Higher Love).
“This is the end of our tour with Rod and we’ve really enjoyed it,” said the unassuming yet still powerful Winwood, sporting grey mutton chops and dressed in a bright green plaid shirt and jeans.
Rod Stewart SET LIST
This Old Heart Of Mine
Having a Party
You Wear It Well
Stay With Me
Tonight’s The Night
Some Guys Have All the Luck
Rhythm of My Heart
The Motown Song
Just Another Day (Ruby Stewart)
The First Cut Is the Deepest
Have I Told You Lately
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Can’t Stop Me Now
Sweet Little Rock & Roller
I’d Rather Go Blind
Proud Mary (Backup singers)
You’re In My Heart
Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?
PBBhotos from Montreal
By Marie-France Coallier
To review Rod Stewart concerts at this point in the singer’s career is, essentially, to cover the same show over and over again. Year in, year out, with only slight variations, he does a flashy, visually-arresting, rocked-up Vegas act: all the hits, good and bad, delivered with incomparable showmanship – and soccer balls.
And yet something strange happened at Stewart’s Bell Centre performance Saturday night. Was it a slight tweaking of the setlist from last time? Was it the palpable warmth and sentimentality that seemed to fill the stage? Could it have been the Christmas song?
Who knows? But somehow, what might look like a boilerplate Stewart show on paper turned out to be one of his best Montreal concerts in ages.
Steve Winwood – a British rock legend in his own right – set the bar high in a superb one-hour opening set, heavy on jazzy, leisurely R&B grooves. Working with a small combo, Winwood stretched out on eight funky, percussion-heavy songs covering all stages of his own impressive history: The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith and solo material.
The level of musicianship and the empathy between the players were astonishing at times. Case in point: guitarist Jose Neto’s solo in The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, with Winwood gleefully pushing him along on the organ, which was enough to draw howls of appreciation from a crowd that had not really come to get immersed in subtle interplay.
Alternating between organ and guitar, Winwood proved to be in fine voice, his high, soulful wail barely diminished by time.
The same was not quite true of Stewart, who admitted he had been fighting a cold for three days and struggled at times to hit expected notes on the likes of You Wear It Well and Stay With Me. And yet a powerful unit of backup vocalists and an audience of 10,500 in a mood to sing covered up more than a few vocal shortcomings, making them easy to overlook. And indeed, some of the singer’s struggles to capture challenging lines paid off on satisfying renditions of Have I Told You Lately and I’d Rather Go Blind, among others.
Opening his almost two-hour set with his own well-known covers of soul classics by the Isley Brothers (This Old Heart of Mine) and Sam Cooke (Having a Party), Stewart served notice that while this might be an all-entertainment, hits-filled event, he was still prepared to let us in on what is close to his heart.
And unless your own heart is made of ice, it would have been hard not to be touched by the photo of Stewart and his late father, whose support he celebrated in the wonderful Can’t Stop Me Now, the only new song performed during the evening. (In keeping with the family theme, Stewart’s daughter Ruby was brought out to sing her quite-decent original, Just One More Day, showing the bloodline in her phrasing. She and her father followed that with a duet on Forever Young.)
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, performed as part of an unplugged set with a local string section, was also surprisingly stirring. Old-school Stewart fans might think this was an occasion to run out to the beer concession, but with snowflakes drifting down on the band and a Christmas tree onstage, the cornball sentiment just plain worked.
Also in the unplugged set was a surprise addition: The Killing of Georgie (Part 1 and II), one of Stewart’s most moving and beautiful songs. To the delight of a few in the know, he dedicated the song to “my friend, Richard Burnett.”
Burnett, a Gazette contributor, wrote an open letter to Stewart in his Pop Tart blog, asking the singer to do his favourite song, Sailing, which Burnett insisted Stewart had never performed in Montreal. Displaying Burnett’s open letter on the video screen later in the set, Stewart announced that “this man has waited long enough,” and sang it.
It was that kind of night: filled with little surprises and delightful cracks in the facade. And while no amount of goodwill might convince you that the dreadful American Idol-style oversinging Stewart allows his backup vocalists at the end of Rhythm of My Heart does anything but ruin a great song, the overall feel of the night still seemed perfect. So perfect that singing along with Some Guys Have All the Luck and even the usually-dreaded Do Ya Think I’m Sexy was clearly the only thing to do.
During Sexy, the sole encore, Stewart demonstrated he has lost none of his sense of humour by showing a vintage Rolling Stone cover on the screen, featuring the following quotation displayed with his image: “I don’t want to be singing Do Ya Think I’m Sexy at 50 and become a parody of myself.”
Stewart, 18 years after that self-imposed deadline, is still singing the song. And what’s amazing is that he seems less of a self-parody – and more the guy we always wanted to hang with – than he has been in quite some time.
1. This Old Heart of Mine
2. Having a Party
3. You Wear It Well
4. Stay With Me
5. Tonight’s the Night
6. Some Guys Have All the Luck
7. Rhythm of My Heart
8. Just One More Day (Ruby Stewart solo performance)
9. Forever Young (Rod and Ruby Stewart duet)
10. The First Cut Is the Deepest
11. The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II)
12. Have I Told You Lately
13. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
14. Can’t Stop Me Now
15. Sweet Little Rock n’ Roller
16. I’d Rather Go Blind
17. Proud Mary (backup singers solo spot)
18. You’re In My Heart (The Final Acclaim)
19. Hot Legs
21. Maggie May
22. Do Ya Think I’m Sexy
Rod Stewart and Steve Winwood, two giants of British rock, revealed their similarities and differences - and the reasons their respective popularities have ebbed and flowed since the mid-'60s - on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Stewart made his name with a raspy voice, R&B covers, self-penned folk-inspired tunes, and a stylistic palette running from disco and good old-fashioned rock-and-roll to even older-fashioned Tin Pan Alley classics.
Winwood has his own distinctive vocal style and has done everything from soul to progressive rock, weird jazz, blues, and middle-of-the-road pop.
Though Stewart has made his life's music all about the show, Winwood has made his show all about the music.
You could hardly call Winwood, 65, an opener, but his set commenced proceedings with the loose, jazzy "Secrets," from his most recent album, Nine Lives. From that song forward, whether sitting at the organ or punctuating his deeply grooving rhythms with stinging yet subtle guitar solos, he rearranged his catalog's highlights to suit his whims. "I'm a Man" became a soft Latin-percussion workout. "Dear Mr. Fantasy" was a slow blues. His voice was ageless and supple, and his set was strictly about the jam.
Stewart, 68, was equally kitchen-sink-y in his selection. Yet, with a set notably splashy in parts (during the haughty "Hot Legs," he kicked soccer balls into the audience), to say nothing of his suit changes, his kiss-blowing, and his sequin-covered, female-heavy band, Stewart's show came across like a main-room revue fresh from Las Vegas. That's a compliment. What other rough-edged crooner could put across the boudoir ballad "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)" and also sing earnest love songs to English football ("You're in My Heart") and get away with it?
The show was oddly paced. The scuffed-up and tender "Have I Told You Lately" was next to a winsome "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" next to a handsome new song, "Brighton Beach," about youthful indiscretion, all done with strings provided by the Philadelphia Orchestra. But this wacky amalgam only highlighted Stewart's schmaltziness for the best.
Just to prove he could still rock as heartily as ever, Stewart broke out the big voice on the bluesy "I'd Rather Go Blind" and his grungy Lothario cackle on the flask-carrying romance of "Stay With Me."
The Hollywood reporter
He may have started off with “This Old Heart of Mine” but Rod Stewart proved that he’s “Forever Young” in his concert Monday night at NYC’s Madison Square Garden. The venerable rocker showcased every aspect of his stylistically diverse, decades-long career in a two-hour show that well demonstrated the reasons for his musical longevity. Add to that a similarly terrific career-spanning opening set by Steve Winwood and you had an evening guaranteed to please baby boomers with deep pockets.
And that he did, delivering a 21-song set that included a generous selection of hits, even the cheesiest of which were delivered with a winning combination of conviction and winking humor. Ever eager to please, he refrained from dipping extensively into the recent album, featuring only two new songs. But they were choice: the highly personal ballad “Brighton Beach,” about a love affair he had when he was just 18 — “We had a daughter … she’s 50 now,” he said ruefully during his introduction and the peppy rocker “Can’t Stop Me Now.”
He dutifully performed the hits: “You Wear It Well,” “Tonight’s the Night,” “Some Guys Have All the Luck,” “You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim),” “Maggie May” and the Faces’ “Stay With Me” among them. But he seemed most energized performing cover versions of such classics as Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Rock & Roller” and Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind,” displaying his most impassioned vocal performance of the evening on the latter.
His raspy voice is miraculously intact, faltering only slightly on the higher notes. And at age 68, his lithe physicality remains equally undiminished, as demonstrated by his athletic kicking of personally autographed soccer balls into the crowd while belting out “Hot Legs.”
Ever the proud papa, he brought out his 26-year-old daughter Ruby to sing a solo number, the impassioned R&B ballad “Just One More Day,” in which she proved that she’s inherited her father’s pipes. The two also dueted on “Forever Young,” during which a mid-song percussion break allowed him to take a break for one of his several costume changes.
The show’s visuals were carefully thought out. The gleaming white stage platform was framed by giant video screens displaying entertaining archival footage, while the male band members were clad in sharp black suits and the female players and back-up singers, all of whom happened to be gorgeous, were outfitted in short, spangly dresses.
A mid-show acoustic set was a highlight, with Stewart, accompanied by a string section and harpist, delivering soulful versions of such classics as “The First Cut is the Deepest,” “Have I Told You Lately” and, in a nod to the season, a tender “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
The inevitable encore of one of his biggest hits was amusingly introduced by a self-deprecating projection of a years-old quote by Stewart from a Rolling Stone interview in which he declared, “I don’t want to be singing ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ when I’m 50 and become a parody of myself.” Accompanied by the dropping of thousands of balloons onto the crowd, the moment did live up to his observation. But no one, least of all Stewart himself, seemed to mind.
Winwood’s opening set was as modest as the headliner’s was ostentatious, but it had maximum musical impact. He and his superb four-piece band performed only eight songs in the course of an hour, but practically each one was a classic, including hits from the Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith, Traffic and his solo career. Allowing each number to breathe with jazz/funk arrangements featuring extended instrumental interludes, including a brilliant guitar solo by Winwood on “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” it served as an effective primer on ‘60s and ‘70s era British rock.
This Old Heart of Mine
Having a Party
You Wear It Well
Stay With Me
Tonight’s the Night
Some Guys Have All the Luck
Rhythm of My Heart
Just One More Day
The First Cut is the Deepest
Have I Told You Lately
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Can’t Stop Me Now
Sweet Little Rock & Roller
I’d Rather Go Blind
You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)
Da Ya Think I’m Sexy
If there’s one thing you can say about Rod Stewart, it’s that he loves being Rod Stewart.
This includes his voice, still remarkably soulful and powerful after five decades; his charisma, which was barely contained by Madison Square Garden Monday night (December 9); his song catalog, packed with hits from the ’70s, ’80s and even the ’90s, which still seems to be a work in progress. Monday’s set included “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” from last year’s Merry Christmas Baby and “Can’t Stop Me Now” and “Brighton Beach” from this year’s Time. Oh, and the fact that he’s still surrounding himself by beautiful girls, including two-thirds of his horn section, three backing singers, a violinist and even a harp player.
Stewart’s biggest skill — other than singing — is playing the audience. From the minute he bounded onstage to his cover of the Isley Brothers’ “This Old Heart Of Mine” to the last notes of “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” he was as much a virtuoso at hamming it up as support act Steve Winwood is on keyboards and guitar.
Easily sliding between his ’70s classics (“You Wear It Well,” “Stay With Me,” “Tonight’s The Night”) and what some might refer to as his kitschier later material (“Rhythm Of My Heart,” “Some Guys Have All The Luck”) Stewart is comfortable singing any of his hits, regardless of how the rock intelligentsia has graded them. Which makes sense: after all, to the chagrin of many of his purist fans (not to mention his long-suffering bandmates in the Faces), he’s been doing a lot of Vegas shows lately (check him out at Caesar’s Palace in May of 2014!).
And really, holding on to the Rod Stewart of the early ’70s in 2013 would be as churlish as expecting Michael Jackson to be the same kid from the Jackson 5, if he had lived to perform his “This Is It” concerts. You can sing the old songs, but you can’t deny the decades that have passed. And hey, do you want to wear the clothes you wore 40 years ago?
With his costume changes, backing singers, his constant addressing the crowd as “Ladies and gentlemen,” and the flashy stage, the Vegas influence was undeniable, and you either went with it, or you didn’t. This wasn’t “An Intimate Evening With Rod Stewart.” And yet, when he sang the Etta James classic “I’d Rather Go Blind” from his 1972 classic Never A Dull Moment and the stage went dark and the spotlight focused only on Rod, it was a reminder of how powerful he can be. Similarly, “Stay With Me” was one of the evening’s more straight ahead numbers (he introduced it by noting it was the Faces’ only U.S. hit: “God bless the Faces!”); it surely had some old-school fans eagerly anticipating the Faces reunion that Rod says is “earmarked” for 2015.
During one break between songs, Stewart showed a vintage video from the early ’60s of him singing on stage with Steve Winwood playing guitar behind him. The two had similar beginnings: both started out in the ’60s someone else’s band (Stewart with the Jeff Beck Group, Winwood with the Spencer Davis Group). They would both later start their own bands (the Faces, Traffic) and go on to become solo superstars, with hits stretching well into the ’80s. Winwood’s set, which preceded Stewart’s (it feels rude to say he “opened”), had a lot in common with Stewart’s: he revisited material from his former bands (“Gimme Some Lovin’,” “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Back Home”), touched on ’80s hits (“Higher Love”) and included a bit of more recent material (“Dirty City”).
On the other hand, it was a radically different performance. Where Stewart had a curtain around the stage that was dramatically raised to herald his performance, Winwood simply walked up to his Hammond organ while the house lights were on and started playing. Stewart had wardrobe changes throughout the night, including a silver blazer and slacks; Winwood remained in his comfy looking green flannel and jeans. While Stewart’s band were tightly rehearsed, as is appropriate for a Vegas act, Winwood’s band was much more improvisational; they have more in common with the Allman Brothers Band or Santana than Stewart’s combo. And where Stewart’s performances are all about his persona, Winwood seems more comfortable behind his keyboards or guitar. Still, both men are in an enviable position. They’re guys in their ’60s who have been recording and touring for over four decades, and still look and sound great. And judging by the audience reaction (and the fact that the bill either sold out Madison Square Garden, or came close), they still can expect to perform for years to come.
Rod Stewart performed at the TD Garden
By Mike Weatherford
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Nov. 6, 2013
You can guess what the last song will be, but not that it will begin with a Rolling Stone quote displayed on the massive video screen:
“I don’t want to be singing ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’ at 50 and become a parody of myself.”
Yet here we are in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, with the 68-year-old Rod Stewart in peach-colored trousers, flanked by 18 musicians (predominately women in short skirts and high heels) along the lip of the stage, with hundreds of balloons dropping from the ceiling in celebration of the once-and-future sex god.
But if you think about it, the quote wasn’t entirely ironic. He’s still singing “Sexy,” but he’s not a self-parody.
As the evening to that point proved, Stewart really is still that guy who is not you or me. He’s that other guy in “Some Guys Have All the Luck,” living the dream but not taking himself too seriously.
He’s just older, that’s all. And he doesn’t try to hide it.
The hi-def video screens can be unflinching in close-ups, but Stewart offers the upper balcony more live-time shots than any of his younger Colosseum roommates. His present-day image is even juxtaposed with 1970s album covers, inviting direct comparison.
But the screen shots tend to be vertical, head to toe, because you need to see he’s still got the dancin’ feet and keeps those hips in motion inside that silver suit.
Stewart is the only star in the Colosseum’s current rotation of stars who doesn’t promise exclusive, only-in-Vegas content. The set list is cherry-picked from longer shows he does on the road. And, he told the audience on his opening night last week, “We brought our stage all the way over from Europe.”
The new stage is sleeker and looks less like a late-night talk show. Don’t ask if we really need to see a saxophone solo on nine separate screens. We’re getting it get it anyway, thanks to six pop-up slabs that display video in front of the permanent screens.
The net effect is more in keeping with other Colosseum spectaculars, even if Stewart vowed “There’ll be no clowns on the stage, or fountains or dwarves. This is a rock ’n’ roll show.”
You could argue that. But like the self-parody thing, it’s not worth your breath. The set list, at least on this opening night of the current stint, went deeper into his early career than last year’s show.
It’s the first time I’ve heard the Faces favorite “Stay With Me” at the Colosseum. And the blues standard “I’d Rather Go Blind,” as covered by the Faces, was for the “old-timers,” he said, pushing the singer to his knees to actually plead “Baby, baby, baby.”
If more of the show was the easy-going victory lap we’re now used to, Stewart at least seems to care about protecting his legacy and playing the party host to make sure everyone has a good time.
Early on, he didn’t seem to think the crowd was loud enough. But he vowed, “We’ll get you in the end, when we kick the footballs out.”
Rock ’n’ soul oldies such as “Sweet Little Rock Rock ’n’ Roller” — sung from the aisles so everyone could whip out their camera phones — paced signature crowd-pleasers. He introduced “Have I Told You Lately” as “the most popular song ever sung at weddings since weddings were invented.”
The large band proved there is no song that can’t be overarranged, and sometimes overwhelmed a voice that’s become more fragile with age. But the ensemble provides good cover for a star who disappears three times, a lot for a 95-minute show. Don’t know if he’s taking hits off an oxygen tank or merely changing clothes while Di Reed belts “Proud Mary” without him.
But one break at least offered the pleasant surprise of his 26-year-old daughter Ruby singing her original, “Just One More Day.”
The family tie, plus the autobiographical “Can’t Stop Me Now” from this year’s “Time” album, touched upon the more resonant look back at the singer’s life explored in the album and recent autobiography.
But if Stewart was right in suggesting Las Vegas audiences just want to share his contagious good mood and wait for the soccer balls, he wasn’t going to disappoint them. Two shots made the middle balcony and one reached the upper nose-bleed section during “Hot Legs.”
After all, this is a guy who’s made a deep career of being shallow.
Photos. Rod performs at the Colosseum
Rod Stewart performs in his residency show “Rod Stewart: The Hits” at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Photographer Denise Truscello shares some of her best photos from the show.
ROD'S ON TOUR IN THE USA... Check out these reviews
Concert/Album Review - United Center- Chicago, IL - October 24, 2013
Time is in stores now and Rod Stewart begins a three-week residency in Las Vegas on November 6th followed by another leg of arena shows in Boston, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, Montreal and Toronto in December.
Anthony Kuzminski is a Chicago based writer and Special Features Editor for the antiMUSIC Network. His daily writings can be read at The Screen Door. He can be contacted at tonyk AT antiMUSIC DOT com and can be followed on Twitter
"You never know beforehand what people are capable of, you have to wait, give it time, it's time that rules, time is our gambling partner on the other
side of the table and it holds all the cards of the deck in its hand, we have to guess the winning cards of life, our lives."
― José Saramago, Blindness
Awareness of the passage of time if a gift; most people wander through life without much thought to the future or a awareness of how their past has formed not just who they are but where they are going. Last week I watched Rod Stewart sing a pair of new songs onstage in Chicago with a renewed purpose and vitality. Stewart is touring in support of his twenty-ninth studio record (not including any Faces or Jeff Beck Group records), Time. What differentiates Timefrom every other record he has ever made is Stewart co-wrote eleven of the album's twelve cuts. After eight covers records in a row, the sudden change in direction was a surprise and one no one could have imagined. Who knew all it would take was having Stewart put his pen to paper for a book? His pen yielded more than a book, but an album that is the most personal he has ever made.
Last year when I sat down and read a slew of music biographies by the likes of Pete Townshend, Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen I didn't think I'd ever get to the one Stewart wrote. On a whim, I picked it up thinking I'd put it down faster than you can say "Maggie May", but the opposite happened, I became engrossed, so much so that when I was done with the book, I rented the audio book from my library to experience it again. In a day and age where rock biographies are a dime a dozen, Stewart's stands head-and-shoulder above the rest. After reading it, I had revelation about Rod Stewart. For decades, every Rod Stewart album was met with disdain by the rock press because it does not sound like the bump-and-grind ecstasy of the Jeff Beck Group or The Faces. The ramshackle grit was replaced with disco grooves, drum machines, melodies made for pop radio and over the last decade, eight cover records of classics (nine if you include his Christmas record). A few fellow writers over at the excellent Popdose website even started a column entitle "Redeeming Rod" where they scoured Stewart's post-Faces career in search of gems that fell in-between the cracks and out of the public view. When I bought the exquisite Faces box set Five Guys Walk Into A Bar, it maddened me to no extent that more people were buying one of the Great American Songbooks in its opening week than would ever uncover the untainted bluesy delight that was Rod Stewart pre-1975. But after reading Rod: The Autobiography antiMUSIC review here) I changed my tune. I no longer hated what he left behind but rather embraced what he became. I forgot how much I loved Out of Order , Vagabond Heart and what a discovery the Storyteller box set was back in 1990. I also could not really tell the difference between Bruce Springsteen doing an album of Pete Seeger covers and Stewart recording several collections of the greatest songs ever written. He has always seen himself as an interpreter of music first and foremost, and he may arguably be the best of the rock n' roll era. The tone of his autobiography was delivered in such winking jollity you can't help but be swept up by it all. Here was the key to his story; he won the lottery of life and he knows it. He still loves the blues and soul he grew up with; he simply projects it in a different light. He creates music for enjoyment primarily and (I am guessing here) he doesn't take himself seriously, so why should we?
Looking upon him with this new outlook, I've simply enjoyed more of his output and when he released Time this past April, I couldn't help but feel it's one of his best all-around solo records because it captures the beat of his heart over the course of a dozen songs. From the ray light optimism of "Beautiful Day" (which would have made a stellar show opener), to "It's Over" which captures the sting of divorce gracefully while "Live the Life" and "Time" hearken back to the minimalist approach of his early records with their toes dipped in the bluesy soul of Stax and Motown. Stewart sings from his heart as if he hasn't in decades. Instead of singing someone else's lyrics, he went deep within himself to create the most honest record of his career. Make no mistake, the production of the record leans towards the pop sheen of his 80's and 90's material, but the arrangements suit the songs. Within each song is a lifetime of love, heartbreak and awareness of what had made his life possible. From the youthful heartache of "Beach" to the Celtic kick of "Make Love to Me Tonight", Stewart doesn't misfire because it is candid and sincere and I only hope more people discover the record.
The 2013 Live the Life tour is quite a sight to see inside an arena. A stage wrapped in all white with towering pillars that substitute for video screens amidst a back wall video screen and one that would occasionally drop from the center of the top rig focusing on Stewart's every move. It's a bright and appealing set made to make those in the nosebleeds feel a little closer. Depending on the song, Stewart is backed by a passionately remarkable thirteen-piece band that do justice to his solo songs, his jubilant covers and the resolute AM dial rock of his early years. Stewart seemed to do everything right during the course of his nearly two-hour show. After a tease of "I Can't Turn You Loose", Stewart appeared in a silver suit for his take on "This Old Heart of Mine", an Isley Brothers cover he took to the Top Ten in 1990. What I've always loved about Stewart is even when he hasn't made great records, he's found a way to construct a couple of indelible pop tunes you can't help but find yourself singing along with. "Some Guys Have All the Luck" and "Young Turks" harnessed the rousing glimmer of a man who still feels like he has something to prove. How many men approaching seventy could sing a lyric of "Young hearts be free tonight" and mean it?
On "I'd Rather Go Blind"; Stewart transported the crowd to the other side of the world in a tiny club on a small street. Anyone in doubt of his talent was silenced after seeing the fan boy alive and well.
The harp and violinist give "The First Cut is the Deepest" and "Have I Told You Lately" a gorgeousness my keyboard can't convey while "Forever Young" (a duet with his daughter Ruby) revealed layers of sentiment I had forgotten. Maybe it was time away from the song, the crowd's rejoinder, the dueling electric guitar solo, the mid-song drum break colored by bagpipes or the simple fact that he was sharing the stage with his daughter. Ruby is on her own journey trying to find her own way that she did quite well on "Just One More Day" which Dad let her perform in the set. "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)" was delicate with the crowd singing the chorus as the band stopped in its tracks. "Reason To Believe", "You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)" and show closer "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" all had moments where the crowd took the song away from Rod stealing it as their own as their voices pierced through the arena roof. With every sing-a-long the crowd too the song and put it inside their own time machine where they'll revisit time and time again reminding them of the past, the present and hopefully their future.
Several changes of clothes, snappy socks and a few dozen soccer balls kicked into the upper reaches of the arena (during "Hot Legs"), found Stewart at the top of his game as the consummate front man, crooning his way through a twenty-plus song set that lasted nearly two-hours. Stewart could have performed forty songs and still left out dozens of essential cuts. Reconciling his pop persona with the artist that is Rod Stewart isn't easy, but onstage, both thrive and are alive. If there was one fault of the current tour is he should have found a way to incorporate more songs from Time. The poignant "Brighton Beach" was infused with weighty reflection. Done during the acoustic part of the set, Stewart lost himself in the performance. The majority of the set Stewart could probably perform in his sleep, but here the artist lives because of the concentration with which he sung every lyric. However, the evening's most affecting moment came with the performance of "Can't Stop Me Now", a buoyant song that recounts his start in the music business that is a love letter to his father. Co-written with his regular collaborator Kevin Savigar, it's evocative and elegiac. Stewart's father passed in the early 1990's and more than two decades later, Stewart has captured the adoration he had for the man in a perfect four-minute pop song. The emotion anchors the song excavating untapped truths. My seats were on the side of the stage and midway through "Can't Stop Me Now", Stewart made his way to where I was sitting and locked eyes with me as I mouthed every lyric and his face lit up knowing the song he wrote for the man who inspired him to reach for great heights has touched someone. Hearing the song, I don't just hear a tale of a boy who ascended to towering heights, but a song that reminds me of my , my daughter, my struggles and my mortality. For this alone, I'll forever be in debt to him.
Discussing Rod Stewart often brings more questions than answers. Is he a sellout? Is he a man who relinquished his colossal talent in the pursuit of fame and fortune? Is he a man wise beyond his years finding ways to reinvent himself decade-after-decade? On the other hand, is he simply a good old-fashioned rock and roller? In my estimation, he is a little of all of the above. The sixty-eight year old man I watched on the United Center stage in Chicago last week was not just an entertainer but also an artist who is still evolving whose artistic heart beats loud and proud. It may have taken Stewart more than a decade but with the passage of time he is fully aware of what he's accomplished and how much more he still hopes to achieve with the time he has left.
So he promised a little extra when he finally hit town on Saturday night, Oct. 27.
Then again, Saturday's show would have been satisfying even if it had stopped with the opening act.
It was as perfect a set-up as you could imagine for Stewart's set — it also gave the dudes in the crowd a heavier dose of rock than Stewart would be providing for his largely female faithful — and he even acknowledged their shared history by showing a brief black-and-white video clip of him and Winwood performing together, along with the Animals' Eric Burdon, circa 1965.
His 13-piece band, meanwhile, carried enough multi-instrumental firepower (including a full-size harp) to re-create the night's 23 songs, from the straightforward rock of "Hot Legs" — during which Stewart, who sported three different outfits during the show, kicked and threw soccer balls into the crowd — Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Rock & Roller" and the Faces' "Stay With Me" to a lush four-song acoustic set bolstered by seven locally based string players.
But the Palace crowd still ate up every swivel of his hips and lift of his legs and laughed along with Stewart when he had to start over "Young Turks" and Van Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?"
And by the time the balloons dropped from the ceiling during the encore of "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy," outfitted with contemporary EDM touches, Stewart had everyone up and dancing and hardly feeling their ages — and likely forgetting that the show was supposed to have happened six months ago.
Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia. 19th Oct 2013
From the first prance across the stage to “This Old Heart of Mine” in his shiny silver suit to the balloon drop celebrating “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” nearly two hours later, Rod Stewart charmed with his lighthearted stage presence and an endless string of hits.
Like peers Billy Joel, Elton John and Bruce Springsteen, Stewart could be on stage for 12 hours and probably not cover every song in his five-decade career.
But on Saturday at Philips Arena, he gave it a hearty try by plowing through nearly two dozen songs with his slickly professional ensemble – a three-piece horn section, a trio of backup singers and a seven-piece band.
Though surrounded by a sleek, open stage and towers of video screens, Stewart was always the focal point – sometimes because of his blinding outfits (the silver suit gave way to a fuchsia jacket and gold socks and, later, peach pants and a multi-patterned blue jacket and shirt) – but usually because of his gregarious stage presence.
It seems there is no embarrassing Stewart, and God bless him for his shamelessness.
Sometimes he strolled the stage like a dapper lothario (“Tonight’s the Night”). Other times (“You Wear it Well” and the bouncy “Some Guys Have All the Luck”) he spanked his own rear and frolicked through goofy dance moves.
Stewart also took a moment to recall the old days in Atlanta with a sly smile (something he also discussedin our recent interview).
“I’ve had some mad moments in this town,” he said. “Back in the ‘80s, I got myself into a lot of trouble in Atlanta.”
He’s an infectious presence, not that this audience – which filled about 2/3 of the arena – needed any prompting.
The women swooned when Stewart began and ended the melancholy “Downtown Train” on bended knee and even those who wrinkled their noses at his disco-influenced period sang along to “Young Turks,” the meat in the “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” and “Livin’ On a Prayer” sandwich constructed of Anthems of Youthful Defiance.
Granted, these days Stewart sings in a lower key on some hits (it also sounded as if he confused lyrics in a couple of tunes), but overall his warm rasp was robust, particularly on “Rhythm of My Heart” and Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind.”
What makes Stewart a particularly endearing performer – and one capable of drawing crowds in Vegas, where he’ll head for most of November after this short tour with Steve Winwood wraps – is that he isn’t untouchable.
He likes to share pieces of his life, whether it’s done by showing photos of his dad during “You Can’t Stop Me Now,” a fun pop-rocker from his notable new album, “Time,” or broadcasting his devotion to the Celtic Football Club (a few fans in the crowd sported Celtic gear and some threw their hats and scarves on stage).
He’s added more of a personal touch this tour – which played Europe over the summer, but only began in the U.S. on Thursday – by giving his daughter Ruby a showcase for her soulful ballad, “Just One More Day.”
The girl is a belter like her dad, and also shared a sweet duet with him on “Forever Young,” which was heightened with a mid-song percussion breakdown (by the way, it will surprise no one that almost half of Stewart’s talented band is comprised of foxy ladies clad in short, glittery dresses).
Stewart took a break from his onstage shenanigans for an acoustic set featuring an eight-piece orchestra of local musicians. Harp accents and some gorgeous soloing from guitarist Don Kirkpatrick and fiddler (and multi-instrumentalist) J'Anna Jacoby freshened up the well-worn “Have I Told You Lately” and “Reason to Believe.”
But of course the highlight of any Stewart show comes with the houselights-up singalong of “You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)” and the kicking of the personally autographed soccer balls during “Hot Legs.”
At 68, Stewart still puts an impressive amount of effort into his show. He could have easily trotted out a dozen hits and called it a night, but he’s still working hard for his money.
Greensboro Coliseum, North Carolina. 17th October 2013
“Were finally here,” Rod Stewart told the 7,000-plus who came out for his long-delayed Greensboro tour stop on Thursday night. Eighteen months, to be precise, since his show was announced, canceled, delayed and then finally realized, though the final interruption came with the sincerest of reasons. Stewart wanted this tour to coincide with the release of his first new album of selfpenned material, Time, in more than 20 years.
It’s not just a new album, per se; it represents Stewart’s triumph over writer’s block, among the most damning and debilitating conditions a creative type could endure. It left Stewart lost in the pop-standards wilderness for all of the 2000s, but on the positive, it led him to a lengthy Vegas residency where he honed his stage show’s musicality to a razor’s edge, though it also apparently convinced him that his audience cares as much as he does about viral YouTube vids that have already been debunked as fake.
Though it’s not as if every twenty- or thirtysomething hasn’t had to explain to his or her parents that the impossible DIY waterslide video was actually a subversive Microsoft campaign. That Rod’s crowd was almost entirely made up of moms and dads was completely apropos in this case, though Rod’s daughter Ruby, who was swindled into performing during one of his numerous wardrobe changes, flopped on her due diligence.
His paternal gullibility aside, Rod’s music is remains beyond reproach. The covers-made-personal trope was strong, with Isley Brothers, Tom Waits, Sam Cooke and a simply gorgeous rendering of Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut is the Deepest” mingling perfectly into “Tonight’s the Night” and the soccer-ball bonanza “Hot Legs.” His sentimentality can still make suckers of us all, though. Stacked side by side against its generational counterpart, fun.’s “We Are Young,” the feeling of those 7,000 moms and dads singing the money line from “Young Turks” wins every day. Even the new tunes, “Brighton Beach” and “Can’t Stop Me Now,” were worthy of the two decades of hand-wringing needed to get them out there, and the 18 months it took to get Rod here.
Bryce Jordan Centre, Philadelphia. 14th October 2013 (with Boz Scaggs)
Rod Stewart treated fans to a concert worthy of Caesars Palace on Monday, when the 68-year-old rocker brought his “Live the Life” tour to the Bryce Jordan Center. Former Steve Miller Band lead singer and now roots rocker Boz Scaggs opened the show.
Scaggs set a mellow tone with his set of 11 songs, kicking it off with the R&B-flavored hit “JoJo” before moving on to play a few songs from his new album “Memphis.” He ended his set with his two biggest hits, “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle.” While Scaggs was just as vocally impressive as he was in the 1970s, the most exciting part of his time on stage was when his backup singer Monet Owens took the reigns by singing lead, getting everyone to their feet and bringing up the energy in the arena.
After a brief intermission, the cheers from the audience swelled with the announcement of Stewart’s entrance, and when the sparkling silver curtain surrounding the stage rose up, the crowd went with it. Everyone jumped to their feet as Stewart appeared on stage in all his mullet-haired, raspy-voiced glory, dressed to impress in a hot pink suit jacket and tie, coordinating perfectly with the flapper dresses of his backup singers.
Backed by a large digital screen flashing clips of performances by singers such as The Supremes and The Jackson 5, Stewart launched into the Isley Brothers hit “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You).” He then jumped into one of his classics, “Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright).” Stewart was ever the charming showman as he addressed the audience for the first time that night with a “Good evening ladies and gentleman, thank you for coming out this evening!”
In spite of his age, Stewart never failed to entertain, shaking his hips to every upbeat song such as the old Sam Cooke song “Having a Party” and Stewart’s own hits “Hot Legs,” “Forever Young” and “Can’t Stop Me Now,” a song from his newest album, “Time.”
The showman never failed to keep the mood light and fun, and it seemed clear that there was nowhere he felt more comfortable than on a stage in front of thousands of people. He talked to the crowd as if they were friends over for a dinner party, casually mentioning that he was “Just getting over a really rotten cold,” and once picking up a hat that someone threw onto the stage, keeping it on for a few minutes before tossing it to the side. Never missing an opportunity to showcase his love for his favorite sport, soccer, Stewart kicked a bunch of autographed soccer balls into the crowd while singing “You’re in My Heart.”
Stewart brought the concert to a close with one of his biggest hit songs, “Maggie May.” After the curtain dropped, he turned an encore performance into a dance party with his hit “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”
With his cheeky grin, saucy charm, and stronger than ever singing voice, Stewart brought a night of fun and classic hits to the Bryce Jordan Center, proving that good music and quality entertainment never get old.