If this was really the beginning of the end for Rod Stewart as a rock and roll star, it was a pleasure to witness.
Stewart launched his 24-date North American tour Friday at the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth doesn’t sound like he’s ready to give up rock and roll at all.
He told Forbes a month ago that this tour, which will hit the UK in the fall and return to North America in 2023, will likely be the last time he performs many of the rock and roll classics he is best known for over the course of his six-decade career.
“I want to move on and just do the classics and swing, but I don’t want to sing ‘Hot Legs’ when I’m 80,” Stewart said, referencing his ‘Great American Songbook’ collection and an upcoming album he recorded that he describes as rock and roll style swing tunes. “I’m not retiring, but this will be the last time we do these songs in America. I just want to wipe the slate clean.
He’s been part of the soundtrack of young baby boomers and Gen Xers, and has written and performed a bunch of songs that millennials know but aren’t sure of the title or singer. He piled on many, some he wrote, some he didn’t write but made his own, and some, like the opener, Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love,” which he interpreted in homage.
Stewart, with its six multi-talented female members and backing vocals, recreated Palmer’s iconic video for the song.
“Thank you for coming out tonight and spending your money,” he said at the start of the hour and 45-minute show. “I know gasoline is very expensive, money is scarce. God bless you, it will be worth it, believe me.
Of course it was. The man has too many good songs in his arsenal if his voice stays strong and he chooses to sing them. Although Friday was the tour opener (although he technically played a full but slightly different set two weeks ago in California), his voice was soft and deep and the six-piece band, including two guitarists, a bassist, drummer, keyboardist and saxophonist, was tight. The six female backing vocalists danced steadily in choreographed moves, took turns playing a plethora of instruments including fiddle, fiddle, harp and mandolin, and proved to be the show’s secret weapon.
A few times Stewart seemed to provide maybe a little more showmanship than usual and once he had to call his band back when he momentarily forgot the setlist.
“So we’re a bit nervous, but so far I think we’ve done pretty well and so have you,” he joked at the start.
“Forever Young” interspersed with a Celtic frolic with fiddle and fiddle before Stewart returned to the stage to cover “Forever Young.” It was a nice variation and a nod to Stewart’s legacy.
His introduction to a late addition to the set, which he told the crowd the band rehearsed that afternoon, sounded a little odd. It was a cover of the classic “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. He billed it as if it were a country song, not one of the most defining rock songs ever recorded by a band from Northern California.
He dedicated “Rhythm of My Heart” to Ukraine in its fight for freedom against Russia with an image of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian flag filling the screens behind and on either side of the stage.
Stewart still moves well on stage, if not as fast as in his youth. But he still kicks (and throws) footballs into the crowd and we’d all be so lucky to look as good as he does as we approach 80. the famous spiky hair and svelte figure give Jagger a run for his money.
The 23-song set included several onstage breaks for Stewart with two covers sung by one of his six multi-talented singers/musicians/dancers. Both of Blondie’s “Call Me” and Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” sounded great and allowed Stewart to not only catch his breath, but also change his outfit three times.
More importantly, however, Stewart’s voice is still strong in all its raspy glory.
The set included a five-song acoustic part near the end of the show in which Stewart and his band were all seated in chairs at the front of the stage. He introduced the first of those songs “The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II)” from 1976 by talking about how happy he felt to hear feedback from listeners over the years who struggled with their sexuality. The background helped add poignancy to the lyrics.
He tried, perhaps jokingly, to take credit for first asking the crowds to sing along when he was in the band Faces. It never worked, he says. But Friday in Fort Worth, it worked. The crowd of around 12,500 sang loudly to most songs, especially when invited to listen to hits such as ‘Maggie May’, ‘People Get Ready’, ‘You’re in My Heart” and “Tonight’s the Night”.
Couples swayed and hugged to his cover of Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately” and danced and sang along with the closing concerts: “Hot Stuff” sung by the backing vocalists, and “Hot Legs” and “Stay with Me,” arguably Stewart’s most iconic rock songs, along with “Maggie May.”
Neither version highlighted the arrogance and swagger of the originals, which were the best of gendered classic rock of the 1970s.
It’s probably another sign of why Stewart looks down the road with classics like the ones in the rearview mirror.
But, in fact, his version of “Maggie May,” a song loved around the world and played in the middle of the set, got the kind of treatment that only a tune that helped change Stewart’s life deserved. Alone at the front of the stage, Stewart, arms outstretched, softly sang the opening lyrics while an ethereal keyboard drone helped build suspense before the whole band launched into a classic rendition of the air. It was a magical moment that only rock and roll can deliver.
Hopefully Stewart has everything out of his system by the end of 2023, for his own good.
Cheap Trick, one of America’s greatest rock bands and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame went through an opening 13-song set, which too many latecomers missed.
Lead vocalist Robin Zander and lead guitarist Rick Nielsen have enough classic material to pack a two-hour set, which made their 13-song, 45-minute set a blast of high-paced staples such as ‘Dream Police ‘, ‘Surrender’, and ‘I want you to want me.’ Zander’s vocals still ring out on the ballad “The Flame” and he sounded like a young Axl Rose (in a very cool way) during “Light Up the Fire.”
Rod Stewart Set List, Dickies Arena, Fort Worth, Texas (July 1, 2022)
1. Addicted to Love (Robert Palmer cover)
2. You wear it well
3. Ooh la la
4. Some guys are all lucky
5. Party (Sam Cooke cover)
6. It Takes Two (Marvin Gaye/Kim Weston cover)
7. Forever Young
8. The First Cut is the Deepest (Cat Stevens cover)
9. Have you ever seen the rain? (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)
10. Maggie May
11. I’d Rather Be Blind (Etta James)
12. Young Turks (with an excerpt from West Side Story America)
13. Do you think I’m sexy?
14. Rhythm of My Heart (Marc Jordan cover)
15. Call Me (Blondie cover)
16. The Murder of Georgie (Parts I and II)
17. People Get Ready (cover of The Impressions)
18. You are in my heart (the final cheer)
19. Tonight is the night (It’s gonna be okay)
20. I Told You Lately (Van Morrison Cover)
21. Hot Stuff (Donna Summer cover)
22. Hot Legs
23. Stay With Me
This story was originally published July 2, 2022 5:28 a.m.