“Last night I was in the land of my birth; tonight I am in my spiritual home,” proclaimed the newly knighted Sir Rod Stewart at the first of two celebratory Glasgow shows. Stewart has always been rock royalty in Scotland - not that that bought the audience any special privileges. This disingenuously named Rod Stewart Hits tour – as if he would ever hazard the Rod Stewart Obscurities tour – was strictly business as per, so much so that he initially appeared to recycle the set list from previous tours, kicking off with his Sam Cooke/Isley Brothers covers and his middling version of Some Guys Have All the Luck.
Rod Stewart ***
There’s no denying his enthusiasm for classic soul, but Stewart is always better when digging up the grit in the oyster and he finally hit his stride on You Wear It Well. The voice was somewhat diminished – he dodged some of the more challenging notes on Handbags and Gladrags – but strong enough to remain fit for purpose.
His old album covers beamed down from the busy visual display, placing the songs in a chronological context, but this was a mixed bill in more ways than one, covering the good, bad and ugly of Stewart’s catalogue. Cheesy soul revue was followed by misty-eyed faux Celtic jiggery, taken to naff lengths on Forever Young with a river dancing solo.
But you had to admire the alacrity with which he and his band threw themselves into the corny likes of Rhythm of My Heart and Baby Jane. Understatement was a foreign concept during the bombastic Every Beat of My Heart, an overblown Downtown Train and even during an extended acoustic interlude, which was no more subtle nor intimate than the rest of the sledgehammer set.
“I should know better at my age, but I can’t resist it.” Stewart was referring to his garish jacket but his declaration could apply to several decisions across the course of the set. He succeeded in cheapening the beautiful I Don’t Want to Talk About It by sitting on his backing singer’s knee and detracted from Stay With Me by kicking footballs into the crowd.
However, there was no disrupting the epic, sentimental Sailing, the immortal Maggie May and endearing period piece Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? for which the band pulled out the stops to make it a fitting party finale.