What: An Evening with Rod Stewart
Where: Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre
When: Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Rod Stewart didn’t walk on stage Tuesday with a hardhat and reflective vest, the British rocker’s wardrobe of choice during his Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre debut in 2005.
He was sporting a particularly noticeable accoutrement, however: A walking boot on his right foot. The plastic cast resulted from a game of soccer (or, as Stewart called it, “football") with his two young sons that gave Stewart a hairline fracture.
“I might have to sit now and then,” the 73-year-old told the audience of 5,713 during a two-hour, 21-song concert, which spanned all facets of his career. “I’ll do my best to rock for you tonight, but it is difficult on one leg.”
Stewart’s return to the arena after his much-ballyhooed debut, the first concert ever at the arena, was a solid return to form. His voice was dreadfully thin in spots, but his range of material and eagerness to please cast him in a particularly loveable light. He even played an incendiary gem (Stay With Me) from his rock ’n’ roll days with the Faces, which sent his audience up front into overdrive near the close of the concert.
There were both hits and misses. His vocal performance on You Wear It Well produced more grimaces than grins, and he was forced to re-start his version of the Sutherland Brothers’s Sailing because of “a frog in his throat.” But he was strong on I’d Rather Go Blind and Tonight’s the Night. A savvy veteran, Stewart knew when to call in the services of his incredible 13-piece backing band, and when to go at it alone.
He also took breathers in spots, which allowed for several wardrobe changes.
The construction vests and hard hats from his previous performance were in reference to the unfinished state of the arena when it opened well past its original target date 13 years ago. The building has come into its own in the years since, and has even showcased the hockey talents of Stewart’s son, Liam, when he starred with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League.
Stewart’s life has changed dramatically in the years since as well. The father of eight responded in his return with a specially crafted set of songs (such as Handbags and Gladrags, a song he hasn’t performed in three years) that was unlike many of his concerts in other cities on his current tour
“Thirteen years ago I wasn’t married, and I have two new children,” Stewart said. “We’re going to try and cover all the bases tonight.”
His roots were always evident, as the London-born Stewart paid tribute to both his home country and that of his Scottish father. The pre-recorded strains of the anthem Scotland the Brave were played during his show introduction, and footage of a beaming Stewart being knighted by Prince William was shown during his performance of Rhythm of My Heart. His stage, one of the most impressive in recent memory, was plastered with a variety of images from his favourite professional soccer squad, Scotland’s Glasgow Celtic.
A local bagpipe group performed on the arena floor while fans were taking their seats.
In the end, it was a warm, welcome return from one of rock music’s living legends. Nothing life-changing, but far from disappointing. If anything, Stewart’s strongest attribute at this point in his career is his ability to soldier on when the going gets tough, an erstwhile smile peeking out from underneath those legendary blonde locks.
And that’s not something you see every day.
1. Soul Finger (The Bar-Kays cover)
3. Love Train
4. Some Guys Have All the Luck
5. Rhythm of My Heart (Marc Jordan cover)
6. Can’t Stop Me Now
7. You Wear it Well
8. Tonight’s the Night
9. Forever Young
10. Maggie May
11. I’d Rather Go Blind
12. Downtown Train
13. First Cut is the Deepest
14. You’re in My Heart
15. Handbags and Gladrags
16. The Easter Rising
17. Nutbush City Limits
18. Stay With Me
19. Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?
21. Sweet Little Rock & Roller