I’ve been a big fan of (Sir) Rod Stewart for the best part of fifty years, bought lots of his early albums, some with ‘The Faces’ and others as a solo artist. His Album ‘Every Picture Tells A Story’ was one of my first purchases and included his anthem ‘Maggie May’ (which incidentally was a B side to ‘Reason to Believe’).
Of course, we all know of Rod but some of you may not know that the fiercely proud Scot was actually born in London. He’s also a model railway enthusiast who recently donated £10,000 to a group suffered thousands of pounds of damage by vandals. He’s also made a documentary about model railways.
Stewart is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 100 million records worldwide and when the opportunity came up to see him live at Hove Cricket Ground came along, my wife and I booked some tickets to go and see him. As luck would have it two tickets became available at Southampton’s St Mary Stadium thanks to my son.
It was a gloriously sunny evening in Southampton. We managed to park reasonably close to the ground and dined out on Hotdogs from the various street vendors as we walked on our way. Looking around us, we felt like we were going to be some of the younger members of the audience, most people appeared to be 60 – 70+. Getting into the stadium was very easy, quick search as we went in and easily found our seats in the middle of the pitch close to what would be the half way line. Well done to the organisers for good stewarding and guides.
We then sat down and waited for the support act, Johnny Mac and the Faithfuls, to come on. A Scottish rock band who tried very hard to get the crowd enthused, even throwing in a cover version of ‘Ooh La La’, but despite their best efforts everyone had come to see Rod and were saving their energy for him.
It wasn’t long before Sir Rod made his appearance with fireworks on his entrance singing ‘This old Heart of Mine’ a cover of the Isley Brothers. The crowd were immediately on their feet singing along enthusiastically.
There are a lot of singers who you hear on records/cd’s/downloads who are so manufactured in the studio that when you hear them live, the voice (and the arrangement) sounds so different. Not with Rod as he continued with ‘Young Turks’ and ‘Sweet Little Rock and Roller’ (Chuck Berry cover) it was just how I remembered him back in the 70’s. His voice hasn’t changed in all those years if anything it’s got better (but I’m biased).
Following on with ‘You wear it well’ and ‘Tonight’s the night’ were more opportunities for Rod to encourage the audience to join in with both the verses and the choruses which they did with great ease. The audience were now starting to dance in their seats and in the aisles. After a few more songs Rod spoke to the audience about a true story which inspired the song ‘The killing of Georgie Part 1 and Part2’ which again the crowd engaged with enthusiastically, which led us all into ‘Maggie May’, Lots of songs are covered by various artists, including Rod, but this is one song I have never heard covered and bettered by another artist. No one sings it like Rod!
After a couple more songs, including a cover of ‘I’d rather go blind’ (Etta James cover), (check out Rod Stewart & Carlos Santana on YouTube for an amazing version). It was time for a costume change and an opportunity for the band to do their stuff with an excellent cover of Mark Knopfler’s ‘Going Home’ Theme from Local Hero.
Back on stage it was time for Rod to sit down and save his energy with a string of slower songs including ‘I don’t want to talk about It’, with audience participation, ‘The first cut is the deepest’ a very enthusiastic ‘You’re in my heart’ dedicated to his beloved Celtic FC, ‘Every beat of my heart’ and ‘Have I told you lately that I love you’.
Time for another rest/costume change and this time the backing singers performed a very good cover of Teardrops (Womack & Womack).
Rod came back out with a lively version of ‘Twistin’ the night away’ (Sam Cooke cover), another Rod Stewart anthem, ‘Sailing’ and finally ‘Do you think I’m Sexy?’
Rod and the band came back out for the obligatory encore with ‘Baby Jane’ and a Rockin’ cover of Rollin’ n Tumblin’ (Hambone Willie Newbern).
The completion of the firework display signalled the end of the concert and all us oldies went home fully satisfied. I’m sure there are other artists with bigger stages/light shows etc. but Rod Stewart came out and did what he does best which is sing and that’s what most people came to see. They weren’t disappointed. I still have the two tickets for Hove, do I sell them on or go again?
A27 here I come!
Written by Eric Barker