Review: Rod Stewart at Leeds Arena

IN this 50th year of his career, Rod Stewart shows no sign of easing off as he is presently engaging on a nationwide tour of the UK and visited Leeds Arena last Wednesday as one of the venues.

Sir Roderick David Stewart has been a major influence in the British pop scene from the late 60s through to the present day and achieved his first UK number one single with Maggie May back in 1970. Since then he has achieved a further six songs which reached number one in the charts and nineteen that were in the top ten. Similarly his album output has been phenomenal with thirty studio albums, four live albums and twenty six compilation albums. He ranks number seventeen in the list of best-selling music artists in the United Kingdom with over one hundred million records sold.

Following a bagpipes intro, Rod bounded onto the stage and belying his 74 years of age rocked the Arena with Some Guys Have All The Luck followed by Having a Party. Whilst he might not be able to gyrate his hips as well as he did in the 70s and 80s his vocals on these first two numbers were just as strong as ever. The concert continued with firstly It Takes Two and then as a memorial to the D-Day Veterans, Rod launched into The Rhythm of My Heart followed by The Killing of Georgie. Three more rock numbers followed – Young Turks, Tonight’s The Night, and Twisting The Night Away.

As well as the band which included three guitarists, three percussionists, two violinists, cellist and harpist there were also three female backing singers who joined Rod in most of these numbers.

It was then a much quieter sequence of numbers with Rod, the vocalists, two of the guitarists and the violinists positioned on chairs at the front of the stage. Over the next half hour they performed a further seven numbers – Downtown Train, Ewan McColl’s Dirty Old Town, The First Cut Is The Deepest, I Don’t Want To Talk About It, You’re In My Heart, Grace – a lovely Irish Ballad, and finally Have I Told You Lately (That I Love You).

To end the show it was back to the heavier numbers with Baby Jane, Maggie May, Do Ya Think I’m Sexy and finally his number one single from 1975 - Sailing. And then of course the inevitable encore of Stay With Me.

The capacity crowd at Leeds Arena thoroughly enjoyed the show which had all Rods’ major hits and more. My only slight criticism of the show is that in some of the numbers the band was a little too loud which drowned out some of the vocals. Apart from this, though, it was a thoroughly entertaining evening.

by John Burland