Auburn Hills, Mich. (Palace of Auburn Hills)
Rod Stewart has spent the past five or so years singing the Great American Songbook and, more recently, the "Great Rock Classics of Our Time." But in concert this year, he's reminding us that he's beeRod Stewart has spent the past five or so years singing the Great American Songbook and, more recently, the "Great Rock Classics of Our Time." But in concert this year, he's reminding us that he's been responsible for a pretty classic body of work himself.
Stewart's two-and-a-half hour show (with 20-minute intermission) at the Palace of Auburn Hills was a potent exhibition of an artist with an arsenal of hits that just doesn't stop. His voice has been diminished somewhat by age (62) and his late '90s battle with thyroid cancer, but the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer made up for his lessened power and range with a still-energetic stage presence, a genially droll personality, five outfit changes and a good sense for when -- and how -- to wiggle his bum.
He also had the aid of an eye-grabbing, in-the-round stage that was framed by video screens and bordered by two circular ramps that brought Stewart even closer to the audience.
But it was the repertoire that won the night. The 28-song marathon included four songs from his latest release, the chart-topping covers set "Still the Same: Great Rock Classics of Our Time," but mostly surveyed his entire career from 1969 on. Stewart offered a generous selection of early favorites such as "Gasoline Alley," "You Wear It Well," "Every Picture Tells a Story," the Faces' "Ooh La La" and an acoustic "Dirty Old Rain" from his first album.
There were '70s and '80s smashes like "Infatuation," "Hot Legs," "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)" and "Young Turks" as well as his interpretations of Van Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately," the Temptations' "(I Know) I'm Losing You," the Isley Brothers' "This Old Heart of Mine" and Tom Waits' "Downtown Train."
Stewart turned "You're In My Heart (The Final Acclaim)" into a love song to Scotland's Celtic Football Club, leading a parade of fans wearing the team's green-and-white colors around the stage. And Stewart accompanied his rendition of Cat Stevens' "Father and Son" with a genuinely touching video display that featured photos of his father and his own 14-month-old son Alistair.
Helping Stewart make it all work was a facile 13-piece band with three backing vocalists and several multi-instrumentalists, which was able to expand and shrink to meet any of the individual songs' needs. Robin Ruddy, who played banjo, pedal steel and dobro, and fiddler/mandolinist J'Anna Jacoby in particular brought important earthy undertones to many of the songs, although a Destiny's Child-ized treatment of Big Brother & the Holding Company's "Piece of My Heart" performed by the singers added nothing to the evening other than what we can only assume was a potty break for Stewart (and much of the crowd).
But as he closed the evening with "Maggie May," Stewart left the stage a winner. He may not be still the same, but he proved still capable of delivering a night full of fan-pleasing hits.
Here is Rod Stewart's set list:
"Tonight I'm Yours (Don't Hurt Me)"
"Some Guys Have All the Luck"
"You Wear It Well"
"Lost in You"
"Reason to Believe"
"(I Know) I'm Losing You"
"Ooh La La"
"Father and Son"
"I Don't Want to Talk About It"
"Have I Told You Lately"
"Piece of My Heart"
"Every Picture Tells a Story"
"Dirty Old Town"
"The First Cut Is the Deepest"
"Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)"
"You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)"
"Fooled Around and Fell in Love"
"Have You Ever Seen the Rain?"
"It's a Heartache"
"This Old Heart of Mine"
"Rhythm of My Heart"