By CRAIG HAMMONS
The curtain was drawn and anticipation was running high. At 7:30 P.M. sharp the theme to The Magnificent Seven came roaring out of the public address system. The curtains then opened to Rod Stewart’s band kicking into the Bar-Kays instrumental “Soul Finger.”
Rod then came prancing out on stage in his new leopard skin jacket to a thunderous round of applause and went right into “Having a Party.” Now the mood was set for this evening of fun and foolish behavior. Rod didn’t miss a beat and went right into “Some Guys Have All the Luck” and “Young Turks” to make for a very energetic start.
Rod is doing residency here at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas before heading out on a world tour with Cindy Lauper that starts in the United Kingdom in May. Rod welcomed the audience and said “We’re going to be here for the next 90 minutes so enjoy yourselves, ladies and gentlemen, it’s later than you think.”
A beautiful blonde sat down behind a very large gold harp and played the opening of “Tonight’s the Night.” The audience knew this one by heart and sang along to every word.
Rod didn’t slow things down for long as he then paid honor to Chuck Berry who he had just learned had passed away earlier in the day.
“The first album I ever bought was Chuck’s Live at the Tivoli and I was never the same,” Rod said. “He was the founding father and you can hear his influence in every rock n roll band from my generation on.”
A picture of Chuck Berry flashed on the big screen and they went right into a rocking version of “Sweet Little Rock & Roller” with Rod working the stage like the true showman he is.
There was then a nod to Sir Rod’s recent knighthood before going into “Rhythm of My Heart” followed by “Forever Young” in which the crowd was signing so loud Rod gave it to us to sing all alone. There was a percussion solo in the middle of the song which allowed Rod to slip off stage to make a costume change.
In true Rod Stewart fashion, in his band are beautiful and talented female violinists, harpist, mandolin players and three backup singers that keep the party going. The impressive work from his male guitarist, drummers, bassist and sax player brought an age of freshness to these timeless classics.
Next up was a powerful and uplifting version of Tom Waits “Downtown Train” which, like many other covers he does, Rod made entirely his own.
Rod then decided to have a sit-down and brought the band to the front of the stage for an acoustic set starting with “The First Cut is the Deepest.” He then asked “How many of you remember the Faces?” and the cheers rang out as they went into the Faces “Oh La La” off the Faces final album in 1973. While they were are still seated it was time for Rod’s solo classic “You’re in My Heart” and the Van Morrison song “Have I Told You Lately” which Rod covered perfectly on his Unplugged and Seated album.
The three backup singers came back out center stage to shake it up to a rip roaring version of Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High.” The band was tight and rolling down the river at full speed while the girls were dancing so hard Tina Turner would be proud. Rod is a generous frontman who does put the spotlight on the band allowing them solos and the attention they deserve.
Rod now back out center stage with a new jacket and fresh pair of trousers played the song everyone grew up with the ever irresistible “Maggie May.” Everyone was on their feet singing along when Rod decided to take a trip out into the audience. He worked his way around the back of the orchestra section shaking hands, giving hugs and singing his heart out. Once he got back on stage the band launched into “Stay With Me” and balloons fell from the ceiling and out came the soccer balls. Rod at 72 still plays with a local soccer team and showed off his talent kicking some all the way up to the second level.
Sir Rodrick David Stewart played us the hits but saved one of his biggest for last “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy.”
This two time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honoree showed us after over 100 million records sold he still is very relevant and “forever young.” Tonight was the night and everything was better than alright. The curtain was closing but the energy still filled the room with the crowd screaming for more.
The curtain came back up and the band wished everyone a good night and went into the Guy Lombardo’s “Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think).” Rod Stewart gave us a selection of his hits, no American Songbook or new material just the songs we know in our heart by heart.