During my nine odd years writing for this publication I have (or rather, I believe I have) forged a strong sense of "localness" in which I pride myself. I firmly believe in a "our backyard first, the nation second" attitude toward musical coverage. But every now and again, certain concerts come to town that I either really want to attend or need to attend because I am in desperate need of cash to cover my car payments. The call was sent out for someone to review the Stevie Nicks and Rod Stewart concert. Rod is a huge soccer fan and I happen to be something in the vicinity of an authoritative voice when it comes to the footie. And so, I responded, and though another writer got in there first, I ended up going at the show last minute.
Like I said, it was last minute, so when I arrived with my date, the place was packed. But the lady running the gate at the parking lot waved us in and has us park by the limo area.
I felt like fucking royalty. As we are walking up to the main entrance, manned by way too many ushers, one of the more jovial fellows grabed my stubs and remarked on how primo these seats are. I was baffled. I was thinking nosebleeds, but we were six rows in, center floor.
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He opened up with "Some Guys Have All the Luck" and the crowd went nuts. Dressed to impress in a red jacket, red tie, black shirt and pants, and neon yellow socks, Rod took the stage with some sangfroid, and while not high-kicking and leg-splitting, he was fairly animated throughout.
His musical setup consisted of a pianist -- who I am convinced has been an extra in German crime films -- a drummer, a percussionist, two guitarists, a saxophonist, a bass player, and six backup singers who also did double duty on horns and violin.
It is important to note that the bass drums bore the crest of the The Celtic FC and everything was a hypoallergenic white.
While I never witnessed him in his prime, it is easy to see the persona that he commandeers onstage. He's funny, he's aware of those who surround him, and he even played a little grabass with the violinist. Rod Stewart is a freaking prankster!
But he can also be caring. When "Rhythm of My Heart" came on, aside from having a great call and response moment with his singers, the background screen had footage of the allied armed forces from WWII to now. He dedicated the song to the armed forces, past, present, and future.
That track segued into "Young Turks" but not before he showed a little slideshow of his five thousand kids and grandkids, all decked out in Celtics gear. This man is beyond a supporter and booster. If the first cut is the deepest, his bleeds green and white.
In an intimate moment that would echo in a little self-deprecation later, Rod Stewart went from sex symbol to total and complete father figure whilst introducing the numerous members of his family in the photos. Daddy might be a pop star, but daddy don't mess around.
"Downtown Train" provided him his first break where the percussionist and the drummer went into a full-fledged drum solo that riled up the crowd enough to accept Rod's wardrobe change into a full purple (read: Barney) suit and also introduced the lovely ladies of the Fort Lauderdale Strings to the stage for the quasi-acoustic portion of the show.
These gals did a great job holding it down on standards like the Van Morrison cover "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You" and "The First Cut is the Deepest."
This was followed by a couple getting engaged a couple of seats away from us. These must be the kind of shenanigans that go down in the "exclusive" seats. Congrats to that couple.
For the tenth track of the night, Rod teased the crowd with the A Side of "Maggie May," "Reason to Believe," and went on to describe how radio DJs intense dislike for it was the catalyst for "Maggie May" becoming such a huge hit.
Keeping it focused on a career-spanning set list that allowed for breaks and bouts of energy, he whipped out a rocking rendition of the Chuck Berry classic "Sweet Little Rock N' Roller" (a 1958 B Side) and brought out his super cute six-year old Alastair on stage to dance and groove with some decidedly Michael Jackson inspired moves.
At this point, the girls got a wardrobe change into some sweet fringe and what happened next included the very capable pipes of his backup crew tearing through a spirited version of "Proud Mary." Rod came out in a psychedelic ensemble primed for an awesome video montage of the Celtics' greatest moments on the pitch for "You're In My Heart," which if you can believe it, is not about women, but football!
That broke into another footie take with "Hot Legs" that was preempted with candid photos of Rod in drag (nice legs by the way) and him punting somewhere in the vicinity of thirty autographed footballs into the crowd. (I did not get one).
At this point, a giant curtain with a cartoon of Rod driving the funky space train into the galaxy came down. But not for long. The band came out and gave the crowd the full "Maggie May," which my lady friend had assumed would be a duet with Nicks but wasn't, before closing out with "Da' Ya' Think I'm Sexy?" Onscreen were numerous quotes of Rod stating what a failure and parody of himself it would be to still be singing that number into his fifties.
The man can self-deprecate but he can also put on a show.
While filing out of the venue, we heard that the Stevie Nicks opening act was "incredibly awesome."
Some Guys Have All the Luck
Havin' A Party
You Wear it Well
Rhythm of My Heart
Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
The First Cut is the Deepest
Reason to Believe
>Rainy Night in Georgia
Sweet Little Rock N' Roller
You're In My Heart
Da' Ya' Think I'm Sexy?
"You Wear It Well"
"Some Guys Have All the Luck"