Anthony Longstaff delivers his verdict on a major show from music legend Rod Stewart, at the First Direct Arena in Leeds.
Spanning a career of well over 30 years, the distinctive voice of Roderick David Stewart has seen him tally a considerable collection of number one albums and Top Ten hits here and across the pond, both as a solo artist and also with The Jeff Beck Group and, more notably, The Faces.
His array of awards and achievements has seen him enrolled on Billboard’s 100 all-time greatest artists and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Renowned for his worldly ways and his love of the female form, Stewart has spent a considerable amount of time in the media for more than just his musical career. But it his music that still does the talking.
Playing to a near sell-out crowd at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, with many still queuing at the box office with minutes to go til show time, this was an audience made up of the more mature age group. Many were dressed in the not-so-correct ‘Stewart’ tartan – with the odd lookalike floating about the place actually looking more like an 80’s Duncan Norvelle.
Draped in the largest silk curtain I’ve ever seen, the stage was set quite beautifully, and the show kicked off to a fantastic start. Featuring a large LCD screen backdrop, the production was immaculate and complemented with three striking backing singers and an equally striking female orchestra.
Stewart delved into his big black book of chart hits and performed ‘Rhythm of my Heart’, ‘The First Cut is the Deepest’, ‘Maggie May’, ‘Baby Jane’ and a couple of tracks from his new album Time – including ‘Brighton Beach’. There was even time for a guest appearance from Rod’s daughter Ruby, singing one of her own compositions and dueting on ‘Forever Young’.
Compliments from Rod and the band on acoustics within the arena will probably see him get a nudge up the Christmas Card list, and the background screen proved an excellent addition to the set design: displaying an array of old video and picture clips from Rod’s career, including a very fitting tribute to his dad Bob.
All in all there was little you could criticize. Audience interaction was fantastic; the set list was great; and the occasion showed-off a creative yet classic stage set up.
It’s great to see a performer of his age still have the adoration of the audience, and the passion to continue writing new material: building on his already massive tally of chart-topping records – and no doubt encouraging the odd new, younger listener through the online medium.
Rod Stewart plays Newcastle on Friday and four shows in Glasgow next week. Find more information on WOW247