At Rogers Arena on Friday, April 22
Who’d have thought that two Vancouver concerts in the same week by a couple of ancient rock headliners from the ”˜70s would be so damned impressive? Rod Stewart’s hugely entertaining show at Rogers Arena Friday night was a real nice follow-up to Robert Plant’s impeccable performance at the Queen E. the previous Sunday. It came down partly to both singers choosing the right material and still being able to perform it well, but mainly to the fact that they surrounded themselves with some of the finest instrumentalists and vocalists on the planet.
Although what’s been dubbed the Heart and Soul Tour billed Stewart as coheadlining with Stevie Nicks, the former Fleetwood Mac member only sang about 10 songs to Stewart’s 20, and her stage setup wasn’t nearly as lavish. But the 62-year-old Nicks still managed to keep the near-capacity crowd happy with her mix of Mac standards (“Rhiannon”, “Landslide”) and solo hits (“Stand Back”, “Edge of Seventeen”). On the downside, when she draped herself in a frilly scarf and twirled around in her frilly dress all I could think of was that scene in Sid and Nancy where Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb) sees herself wearing Sid’s grandmother’s clothes and freaks out with “Aaggh! I look like fuckin’ Stevie Nicks in hippie clothes!”
When it came time for Rod the Mod to hit the stage the energy level in the rink rose a notch or two. The stage had been transformed into a thing of beauty; it appeared to be constructed of white marble, with a two-level platform for a six-piece band that was dressed in dark suits like the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Adding to the ”˜60s-style spectacle were another half-dozen women in bright red miniskirts, including three backup singers, two horn players, and one who looked fine just banging a tambourine.
Not to be outdone, Stewart strolled out in a gold-lamé jacket, then kicked the show off with the unbeatably upbeat O’Jay’s stomper, “Love Train”. That was the first of several well-chosen covers, including Tom Waits’s “Downtown Train”, Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Rock and Roller”, Cat Stevens’s “The First Cut is the Deepest”, and Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young”, which the 66-year-old Stewart dedicated to his two-month-old son Aiden and his other children, “all eight of them!”.
The sparkling talent in the backing band included J’Anna Jacoby, the first female to win the Grand Master Fiddle Championship. She was killer on “You Wear It Well”, and expertly handled the mandolin on Stewart’s biggest hit, “Maggie May”. Also on hand to help him sound great was saxophonist Jimmy Roberts, who blew some serious shit on a cover of Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away”.
“Have a seat, ladies and gentlemen,” coaxed Stewart at one point, “you paid a lot for those seats.” He wasn’t kidding, as the top ticket price was 235 smackers (before service charges and fees). Then again, he’s got a lot of overhead tied up in soccer balls. He must have kicked and thrown about 40 of them into the crowd during “Hot Legs”, many finding their way into the hands of fans wearing the green-and-white striped jerseys of his fave soccer team, Celtic F.C..
By the time Stewart encored with his disco-era smash, “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?”, he’d won over most everyone in the building, and even earned forgiveness for all those lame Great American Songbook CDs. I wouldn’t trade this show for the Rod Stewart & the Faces gig I saw at the Pacific Coliseum back in ”˜75—with Foghat opening up!—but it was still pretty sweet.
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