Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Rod Stewart's majestic masterclass at Belfast's Odyssey Arena

26.06.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD
 Rod Stewart performing in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast last night.
26.06.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD Rod Stewart performing in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast last night.
26.06.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD
 Rod Stewart performing in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast last night.
26.06.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD Rod Stewart performing in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast last night.
Rod Stewart and his wife Penny Lancaster
Rod Stewart and his wife Penny Lancaster

It doesn't feel like three years since Rod Stewart last held court at Belfast's Odyssey Arena.

But a lot has happened in the iconic rocker's life since 2010.

Not only has he enjoyed his first UK number one album for 30 years, but he has also had another child.

While Stewart joked last night that he has now “put the cue back in the rack” in regards to the latter, his appetite for performing appears to have been invigorated by renewed chart success.

In a whopping, two-hour, 23-song set, the veteran singer delighted his devoted audience with hits from all eras of his long career.

From This Old Heart of Mine and Wear It Well to Baby Jane and Sailing, it was a masterclass in giving the people what they want.

Several selections from the chart-topping Time were also warmly received.

“Thank you for making it number one,” Stewart beamed, adding: “I know you don't really want to hear new songs, but pretend I've just sung Maggie May or Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?” (which, of course, were also wheeled out later).

As it happened, Can't Stop Me Now and She Makes Me Happy — tributes to Stewart's late father and his wife respectively — in particular were solid tunes, in no need of a disclaimer.

The star's current tramp round the country's arenas is entitled the Live The Life tour, and that he certainly is.

Not many 68-year-olds could have 8,000 strangers swooning with a mere swivel of the hips, especially not one sporting a black-and-white polka-dot shirt and matching socks.

But Stewart has always been a one-off — ultimately an entertaining mix of the sublime and the ridiculous.

So, while a lime-green suit donned for an acoustic segment was heroically absurd, much of the music itself was heartfelt and impactful.

Highlights included You're In My Heart — delivered with a fan's Celtic scarf draped around Stewart's neck — and a rough-and-ready cover of Chuck Berry's Sweet Little Rock ‘n' Roller.

As well as the standard guitarists, bassist, drummer and keyboardist, the frontman had surrounded himself with backing vocalists, percussionists, a string section and even a harpist, many of them young women squeezed into figure-hugging dresses.

An unreconstructed ladies' man he may be, but Stewart clearly takes his art very seriously.

Whether claiming to be amongst the first to address homosexuality in song with The Killing Of Georgie or pioneering “community singing” as a member of the Faces, Stewart was keen last night to stress his importance in musical history.

But he didn't have to try to convince this crowd.

Hit after hit had them singing along all evening, and a clutch of footballs kicked into the crowd during a wonderfully gonzo Hot Legs sealed the deal.

ANDREW JOHNSTON

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