It’s a long time since Rod ‘‘The Mod’’ Stewart has been fashionable.
In fact, for most of his career (and for all of his hits), Stewart has been a performer the cognoscenti pretend not to like.
But he has always been a wonderful singer with an instantaneously recognisable set of pipes, and on Sunday night at Hope Estate, a smiling Stewart showed a big crowd that he’s still got it, even on the high notes.
No it wasn’t The Faces at the Filmore East in 1969.
After all, Stewart turned 70 in January. And 15 years ago he had a cancerous growth cut out that almost cost him his vocal chords.
But when he bent into the old Temptations standard (I Know I’m) Losing You – one of the many covers he’s made his own over the years – it was possible to believe that age had been kept at bay and that we were all, to quote Rod’s 1988 hit, Forever Young.
I must admit I went to this show without great expectations.
Rod Stewart for me was the Rod of the ‘‘Mercury years’’, an amazing sprint from 1969 to 1975 when he record five superlative solo albums for the Mercury label, as well as four albums with his band, The Faces, for Warner Brothers.
Nine albums in five years! No wonder the pressure took its toll and Ronnie Wood left to join the Stones and Rod did his Atlantic Crossing to America and the arms of Britt Ekland.
Given his age and his recent recorded output I was expecting at least part of the concert to be done American Songbook crooner style, but I was happily mistaken.
Although the women in the band were squeezed into little black dresses and the boys were all in shiny suits, it was a hard rocking show from the outset.
(Indeed the band – and the sensational backup singers – deserve a special mention.)
From the Mercury years, we heard the aforementioned Losing You, as well as rousing versions of Maggie May,You Wear It Well and Sweet Little Rock and Roller, before the band channelling Ronnie and the Faces to reincarnate Stay With Me.
Three costume changes gave Rod a chance to catch his breath every now and then, and a mid-show break for some Youtube ‘‘Funniest Home Videos’’ – including one of a large dog being friendly with someone’s leg (and then some) – showed Stewart’s well-known sense of humour was still intact.
The late 70s was Rod’s peak, fame-wise, and choices from that era included Sailing, Tonight’s The Night, First Cut Is The Deepest and the soulful Danny Whitten classic, I Don’t Want To Talk About It.
Of his later recordings, Rhythm Of My Heart was dedicated to the Anzacs, while You’re In My Heart was dedicated, as always, to his beloved Celtic Football Club.
Have I Told You Lately was one of the night’s many singalong numbers – Rod seemed genuinely moved at times by the sound of the thousands-strong Hope Estate audience choir – and by the time he wheeled back around for a single-song encore in the inevitable form of Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?, an hour and a half had whizzed by and it was time to traipse out to the buses.
Before hand, James Reyne and band played a high-speed set of Australian Crawl hits, preceded by a soulful soloist whose name, I must shamefully admit, I do not know, and cannot find as I write these notes in the hours after the show.