By Wal Reid
Artist: Rod Stewart
Date / Venue: Monday April 13th, Vector Arena, Auckland
It's no secret Scottish rocker Rod Stewart is parochial about his views on Scotland & football, maybe the only other patriotic Scot that comes close is comedian Billy Connolly. The famous septuagenarian whose love life has been in the spotlight just as much as his music, has been the subject fodder of many a gossip magazine over the years. Our attachment a bit more close to home when we as a nation once mulled over the time ‘Rod the Mod' was married to our Tip Top Trumpet girl Rachel Hunter (he almost seemed like one of us).
The Vector was chocka, as you'd expect a mature crowd sporting ‘Roddie' wigs and Celtic Football strips. The venue still smarting from the weekend's Ed fest the giant curtain went up revealing Stewart's impressive house band and backing vocalists. As they started playing Sam Cooke's classic Having A Party you couldn't help but be awestruck by the sheer size of activity onstage, bodies everywhere it was akin to an Arcade Fire concert or a West End show, as the nimble Stewart entered the stage.
"We going to make it worth your time tonight. We're going to play some old songs some new songs and some we practiced this afternoon" he muttered, resplendent in yellow dress jacket and tie he dived into Maggie May. The crowd got up out of their seats as Stewart and his strikingly good-looking band (who looked as if picked off a fashion show runway) rattled through his vast career catalogue, leaving no stone unturned.
Stewart is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 100 million records worldwide, he's had six consecutive number one albums in the UK, and his tally of 62 UK hit singles includes 31 that reached the top 10, six of which gained the number one position.
Tonight's The Night, new song You Can't Stop Me Now off his 2013 album Time was given a look in as Stewart looked the audience square-on saying "It's time for some Motown". As the band launched into This Old Heart of Mine you realise time has been kind to the 70 year old entertainer/singer. Feeding off the crowd's energy certainly helped put the zing in his step, and given the chance he probably could've gone on all night.
More Stewart stories followed, a natural raconteur he started the intro of Rhythm of My Heart by paying homage to the allies who fought in the war "We were all on the frontline and now we're here tonight" the song ended on an Anzac message, a touching sentiment that hushed the entire crowd.
Rod Stewart draws the audience into his personal life, his history and family. It was a concert that resembled a family intervention and a deep devotion for fans. Birthday girl singer Di Reed showed why she's more than just ‘eye candy', her version of Turner's Proud Mary gave me goose bumps while song after song had the audience's undivided attention... especially doing an acoustic set of classics where he quipped "This is a bloody good song" or "There's two things you can't change, your mother and football teams you support".
Against the Vegas-esque backdrop the show was nothing short of a spectacle. Rod Stewart is class, of course he's got beautiful women playing the string & horn section and musos who look like they've stepped out a Hallensteins ad with skinny suits. There wasn't one second of time that wasn't wasted, the show ran clockwork heading toward the climax of the night: you guessed it Stewart's hit Do You Think I'm Sexycomplete with balloons falling from the ceiling. As quickly as it began the curtain dropped ending our time with one of Pops greats - yep, gotta love those balloon endings