Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Sun 29 Mar
The lavish blue curtain goes up, and the band starts playing. There are about 10 of them, guys and gals, and they introduce the star of the evening’s show with a quick intro that begins with a snatch of Time Is Tight. Rod the Mod arrives on the stage to the delight of the full house, and the party begins.
Stewart kicks off, appropriately, with Having A Party, a Sam Cooke song he covered on 1993’s Unplugged…And Seated album. It’s a decent enough opener, and is followed by the Bonnie Tyler hit It’s A Heartache, another of the songs Stewart has covered. “I’m back!” he announces with glee, a few minutes into his set. Strutting around the stage in his brothel creepers, turning back the clock yet again with an early hit of his own, Stewart sings You Wear It Well and follows it with Tonight’s The Night. Classic Rod Stewart, those two; now we’re talking.
The first part of the show continues to showcase songs from every stage of Stewart’s recording history, from the very earliest to the most recent efforts. The heartfelt, sentimental nature of Can’t Stop Me Now is spot on, whereas Rhythm Of My Heart, dedicated to “our” soldiers, is perhaps a little too over the top in terms of the video accompaniment. The vocal showcase at the end of the song from the backing singers is pretty impressive, however. Stewart disappears during Forever Young while a lengthy drum and percussion piece is performed. The applause at the conclusion indicates that most people have enjoyed, rather than endured, the display.
Stewart reappears in a gold suit to finish the song, and then introduces his string section while the entire band sits down. This must be the slow part. Quite unusually, for a rock and roll gig, Stewart asks those standing and dancing at the front to sit down, because the people sitting behind them have paid a lot of money for their tickets (to keep all his kids in “shoes and pencils”). Fair enough. It’s a brief interlude; four songs only, including two more from the middle ’70s: The First Cut Is The Deepest and I Don’t Want To Talk About It, both performed beautifully.
Things brighten up again as Stewart doffs his cap to Chuck Berry and Sam Cooke (again) with Sweet Little Rock ‘n’ Roller (from Stewart’s 1974 Smiler LP) and Twisting The Night Away (from Never A Dull Moment, released a year earlier). There’s some decent guitar riffing going on here.
Stewart nips off for another costume change while the band performs a high-energy Proud Mary, and reappears in a flowery shirt and red trousers. A great version of You’re In My Heart, featuring some wonderful violin, is followed by the strangest moment of the evening. For some reason, the video screens show four clips of people coming unstuck in humorous ways, the kind of thing that someone might email you for a laugh. While they are kind of funny, it’s baffling as to why we have stopped the show to watch this. Luckily, Stewart immediately redeems himself by choosing to play Stay With Me, a song he recorded in 1971 with Faces. During the song he boots about 40 footballs into the crowd, giving many folks an unexpected souvenir of their evening. It doesn’t look like this antic causes any scuffles or injuries so well done to everyone for playing nicely.
The concert climaxes with two anthemic Stewart songs. Maggie May, featuring its characteristic mandolin, and the big sing-along that is Sailing are rapturously received. The big blue curtain comes down, as people stand and applaud, and then it quickly ascends again so that Stewart can say goodbye with a one song encore. Da Ya Think I’m Sexy? isn’t Stewart’s most profound song, but it does seem fitting, and also poses the question that many would still answer ‘yes’, despite him turning 70 earlier this year. Hundreds of coloured balloons rain down on the satisfied crowd.
Rod Stewart and his band have been in top form musically throughout the entire show, and it is clear that Stewart himself still possesses a good set of pipes, a great deal of energy, and sufficient cheeky charm to hold an audience in his thrall for an evening of good-time big hits.