WORDS DANIELLE JEFFERY / IMAGES PAUL DIXON
Wednesday the 16th of November saw the opening night of music Legend Rod Stewart’s new UK tour at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena. The arena was full up to the rafters with fans of Sir Rod, young and old, anxious to see him strut on to the stage. The stage is obscured by a white sheet with an arty picture of Rod Stewart’s face.
The lights dim and the palpable excitement is felt through the arena. The sound of ‘Scotland The Brave‘ on the bagpipes ring before they are drowned out by the screams of excitement from the crowd. With the crowd still anticipating Rod’s walk on, the distinct drum beat into to ‘Addicted to Love’ starts the play. As the curtains rise we see four ladies dressed reminiscent of Robert Palmers’ original video, then bright lights and on walks the man himself! Dressed in every bit as you would expect, white large collared shirt under a shiny black Suit. What an entrance!
Rod Stewart tells the audience ‘I love you, I love you, I love you’ before taking us back to 1972 with ‘You wear it well’. The stage has a huge screen at the far back with screens either side of the stage and a half ring of screens above. Multiple cameras are filming the show, projecting the stage onto the multiple screens. Rod Stewart is getting into his stride, clearly having fun dancing around the stage with the audience dancing along with him.
Continuing the upbeat tempo, with ‘Ooh la la’, ‘Some Guys have all the luck’ and the duet ‘It takes two’ we see the introduction of the talented men and women musicians who join Rod Stewart throughout the concert. The already visually exciting stage production is coming into its own with ‘Some guys have all the luck’ with graphics of Las Vegas and Rod Stewart’s name in big Vegas lights. Perhaps a nod to his stint at Caesars Palace earlier this year.
Speaking to the crowd, Rod Stewart officially launches the first night of his U.K tour and tells a funny anecdote regarding ‘It Takes Two’ – He recorded the song with Tina Turner back in 1990 for a Pepsi advert, only to be spotted with a Coke the following day, whoops! Rod recreates the duet with backing singer, Becca Kotte, both belting out the hit with ease.
Rod then tells us the next song is from his 2021 album Tears for Hercules, and was met with a small applause, which left Rod laughing, ‘I thought it sold F-ing better than that!’. ‘One more Time’, a definite favourite of mine from Tears for Hercules, did not disappoint live and I was fully committed to singing the entire song along with him. An energetic performance from Rod and the girls, with a special mention for those on the fiddle and banjo, such a talent. The Celtic folk undertones of the song along with the catchy chorus make it an impossible song to not tap your feet to and have stuck in your head for days! The applause afterwards definitely proved to Mr Stewart the album did indeed sell as well as he thought.
Rod leaves the stage and a celebration of Celtic folk music keeps the audience entertained and is an explosion of talent and noise, keeping the party very much alive during an outfit change. Rod comes back onto the stage wearing a Zebra print shirt and begins ‘Forever Young’. The concert slows right down with ‘The first cut is the deepest’ and the introduction played on the harp was hauntingly beautiful. The crowd sings along each word of the chorus, the emotion of the song evident with the passion of the audience. At the end of the song, Rod bows to us, a small thank you for such an emotional moment between performer and fans.
Sticking with fan favourites, a provocative performance with the stage screen filled with animal prints, of ‘do ya think I’m sexy?’ Is followed by the one and only, ‘Maggie May’. And what a tease Rod was! The opening of the song was just Rod Stewart and his gravelly pipes slowing singing, the audience desperate for the fun to begin. And what fun! An eruption into the song, with the lyrics on screen for all to join in. Everything stops for the fiddle and banjo and the iconic musical bridge of Maggie May with the crowd clapping along leaves the arena shaking.
Rod Stewart makes a huge statement during ‘Rhythm of my Heart’. Walking onto stage wearing a blue shirt and a yellow jacket, the colours of the Ukrainian flag. Sobering images of the War in Ukraine are shown on the big screen, surrounded by the colours of the flag. Everybody taking a moment, and it was such a juxtaposition of feelings. Such a high from Rod Stewart’s performance so far and being brought right down to Earth to experience this poignant moment together. He finishes with a bow to an image of Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, with us all applauding along with support.
The stage is changed up with a row white stools, Rod and his band sit and begin a more acoustic set. ‘Handbags and Glagrags’ begins, with Rod’s soulful voice hugging each note. He thanks us all for coming, even with the cost of living crisis, and he shows his absolute gratitude for coming. The crowd coo’s at the Guitar opening to ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ and there are 10,000 voices singing in unison. With a song that never fails to give me goosebumps and a lump in my throat, it was hard to not shed a tear listening to each person sing it back. Jimmy on the saxophone adds even more soul to the song making it absolutely perfect.
Something synonymous with Rod Stewart is his love for Celtic Football club. The drum sets emblazoned with the clubs emblem, and ‘You’re in my Heart’ was a love song to the club, the screen showing the clubs goals and picture of Rod wearing the kit. Ending the slowed down acoustic set with ‘Have I told you lately’ with soft lighting rounding off the romantic mood.
The backing girls kick things back up with ‘Lady Marmalade’ leading onto Rod’s return to stage with ‘Hot Legs’. A visually exciting performance from the production team and those on stage you can feel the crescendo building towards the end of the show. Rod kicks footballs into the crowd as a marvellous memento for the lucky fans who caught them! Moving seamlessly into ‘Stay with me’ and then to ‘Baby Jane’, never missing a beat to keep the audience dancing. The curtains come down to an eruption of applause and the clapping continues as the lights turn blue. The side screens show lapping waves and the sound of the gentle guitar opening begins as the curtains go up for the encore of ‘Sailing’.
Once again the arena is singing along with Rod Stewart, and swaying phone lights twinkle away. A tribute to the late, Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II appears on screen, another joint moment of respect for all there. A fitting ending to a show that was a myriad of emotions, a grand spectacle from the production and the absolute array of musical talent from the supporting band and singers. Rod Stewart did himself and the fans there proud. Seeing the legend live, it is clear to see at 77 he is still on stage why he is just that. A true rock and roll icon. As the lyrics in ‘Baby Jane’ say, ‘I know it’s gunna last forever…’, and Rod, I hope it does last forever.
1/ Addicted to Love
2/ You Wear It Well
3/ Ooh La La
4/ Some Guys Have All the Luck
5/ It Takes Two
6/ One More Time
7/ Forever Young
8/ The First Cut Is the Deepest
9/ Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?
10/ Maggie May
11/ I’d Rather Go Blind
12/ Young Turks
13/ Rhythm of My Heart
14/ Hot Stuff
15/ Handbags and Gladrags
16/ Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)
I Don’t Want to Talk About It
17/ You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)
18/ Have I Told You Lately
19/ Lady Marmalade
20/ Hot Legs
21/ Stay With Me
22/ Baby Jane
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