Rod Stewart – review

Newbury Racecourse

It is difficult to overstate the importance of Rod Stewart in the music world of the 1970s. Having fused hard rock, blues and killer melodies in the genuinely pioneering Faces, his reinvention as a chart-topping scream idol was little short of a masterstroke.

After drowning in a sea of schmaltz in the 1980s, Stewart has spent the last two decades coasting on past glories while playing occasional short but lucrative stadium tours that turn his peerless back catalogue into ultra-slick karaoke. The result is tonight's entertaining but ultimately frustrating spectacle of a once-great interpretive singer going lazily through the motions. At 66, he remains a snake-hipped and roguish showman, but his vocal rasp is not the force it was. His husky growl will always be affecting on lovelorn anthems such as You Wear It Well and I Don't Wanna Talk About It, but is frequently lost among the proficient grooves of his cabaret revue band.

He has not written any new material in a decade, preferring the easy option of his Great American Songbook series of classic covers, but eschews those songs tonight in favour of roustabout revisits of his well-worn past hits. As Stewart dons a polka-dot shirt and tartan jacket to boot footballs into the crowd while bellowing Hot Legs exactly as he did in 1985, it is hard to imagine a once-great artist more defiantly entrenched in his comfort zone. The closing Do Ya Think I'm Sexy transforms the whole field of baby boomers into one giant wedding disco, before he encores with the epic guff of Sailing. Stewart begins a two-year Las Vegas residency in August. They are made for each other.

Contributor

Ian Gittins

The GuardianTramp

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