Rod Stewart | Pop review

02 Arena, London

Their 65th birthday is a milestone few rockers relish, but Rod Stewart wears it pretty well. He opts for an avuncular dignity – recording albums of classic American song, the latest of which, Soulbook, reached the top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic – complemented with a twinkle in the eye that says he's still having more fun than he should.

Steeped in sentimentality, the show highlights much of his 40-year career: 1969's Handbags and Gladrags, his Faces years (represented by what he erroneously called "our only big hit", Stay With Me), the rock-god late 70s and his later cover versions and a CBE.

He plugged a charity T-shirt designed by his young son, and in what must have seemed a good idea at the time, his wife joined him on stage, dancing in a minuscule red dress to an uproarious Da Ya Think I'm Sexy. It was one of the few moments when the only possible reaction was to die a little on his behalf.

This may have been cabaret, but it was a high-class version. Stewart shuffled rather than danced, and disappeared several times to catch his breath, but the gravelly pipes are still expressive. First Cut Is the Deepest, sung with eyes closed, delivered an emotional kick, and You're in My Heart, with the audience on backing vocals, was moving as only a mawkish rock anthem can be.

"The Faces are reforming, and Mick Hucknall is gonna be the new singer," Stewart told us. Hucknall's name incited boos; Stewart munificently added: "Give him a chance." The Faces may put on a more rock'n'roll show, but will it offer as much guilty pleasure as Stewart's?


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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