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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 29, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 17
Rod Stewart vivacious at Key Arena
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Rod Stewart vivacious at Key Arena

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Rod Stewart
April 23
Key Arena


Rod Stewart might not be the most gifted performer, but he's certainly got a lot of energy. The pop-rock legend played an impressive set of songs at Key Arena last weekend that spanned his entire career, from the great ('Maggie May') to the passable ('Have I Told You Lately').

When the curtain rose after Stevie Nicks' performance and a brief intermission, the sexy lineup of band members appeared. The women wore shimmery red cocktail dresses and heels, while the men sported form-fitting gray suits and spiky hair. Stewart wore a canary-yellow jacket over black pants. On this night, he'd have more costume changes than anyone, including Nicks.

Stewart kicked things off with a sassy cover of The O'Jays' 'Love Train' as the majority of concertgoers stood on their feet and clapped along. He then won the crowd over with his signature hit 'Tonight's the Night,' working the stage side to side and posing flamboyantly. He's a ham and he knows it, and it's clear he loved every bit of the attention.

Nicks was invited back for a pair of duets, helping Stewart through the '80s smash 'Young Turks' (where he fumbled the lyrics to his own song). They next collaborated on a pitiful rendition of 'Leather and Lace' as Stewart seemed more interested in getting a laugh from the audience by making funny faces than actually singing the song.

Before lunging into a terrific version of 'Forever Young,' a photo of Stewart's year-old son was displayed on a huge LED screen. The father of eight children now, he joked about this being his very last. 'Not because I can't do it,' he said, 'but because I can't afford it.'

Two additional covers were done splendidly: Cat Stevens' 'The First Cut Is the Deepest' and Sam Cooke's 'Twistin' the Night Away,' which saw couples dancing and even spinning each other around. A redo of Tom Waits' 'Downtown Train,' for which Stewart earned a Grammy nomination, was also wonderful.

'Maggie May' found Stewart slipping into a powder-blue suit and tie, accompanied by an acoustic guitar and an Anne Hathaway lookalike playing mandolin. 'You're in My Heart' was dedicated to fans wearing green and white striped jerseys with The Celtic Football Club logo - Stewart is a longtime supporter of the team, and he booted about 20 autographed soccer balls into the crowd. Meanwhile, 'Rhythm Of My Heart' was a tribute to the servicemen and women in the U.S. and Great Britain who've gone to battle in the Middle East.

As Stewart disappeared for another costume change, his backup singers and band entertained us - or attempted to - with a sloppy rendition of Amii Stewart's 'Knock on Wood.' Shortly, the man of the night returned in a plum-colored two-piece suit and sang a so-so version of Van Morrison's 'Have I Told You Lately,' which appeared on his 1991 album Vagabond Heart.

Before closing out his main set with 'Hot Legs,' Stewart shared a photo of himself in drag with the audience. This is what I admire about Rod Stewart: he's never felt the need to be uber-masculine. He and David Bowie pioneered the androgynous-glam look in rock music.

For an encore, two disco balls floated above the stage as Stewart polished his performance with 'Do Ya Think I'm Sexy.'

I'm so thankful Stewart didn't touch any jazz standards on Saturday. Instead, he dug out his greatest hits and put on a fantastic show that seemed appropriate for the Vegas strip. Perhaps not one of music's most important artists, but he's definitely one of its hardest working.

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