Music review: Rod Stewart, Hydro, Glasgow

There were plenty of pop hits and misty-eyed crowd-pleasers in Rod Stewart’s Hydro show, but the highlights were the understated renditions of soul standards, writes David Pollock

Rod Stewart, Hydro, Glasgow ****

As ever, the Rod Stewart live greatest hits experience landed somewhere between timeless and time-locked. The dress code for women sharing the stage with him appeared to involve blonde hair and short skirts, but these days, rather than being employed as simply backing singers or dancers, the musicians taking part are a perfectly gender-balanced group.

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“They're all wonderful musicians and they've got great senses of humour,” said Stewart of his female bandmembers. “Which is very important to be in this band.” Nobody was more weirdly sexualised here than the 77-year-old Rod himself, shaking his bum for the camera in zebra-print suit jacket and tight trousers, and no-one seemed more aware that in successfully chasing musical trends for half a century, he might have at times looked somewhat dated.

Rod Stewart at the Hydro PIC: Calum Buchan Photography

Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? was preceded by an “embarrassing picture of me back in 1979, with my right tit showing” at Studio 54, “where I would go and do naughty things.” His red lycra suit was apparently approved by the late Olivia Newton-John, to whom tribute was paid, alongside a bunch of other socially conscious influences.

The Impressions’ People Get Ready was covered alongside overt reference to its civil rights connections, with Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and the late Senator John Lewis appearing onscreen, while Rhythm of My Heart’s little-known heritage as a song about the Vietnam War was adapted for the current invasion of Ukraine. “What a guy,” announced Stewart, as an image of Volodomyr Zelenskyy appeared behind him.

Closer to home, You’re in My Heart honoured the Lisbon Lions (apparently Frank McAvennie was in) and the Irish ballad Grace paid tribute to his own roots, political as well as familial.

Much of the rest of the show wasn’t nearly so deep, taking in pop hits like Young Turks and Baby Jane, misty-eyed crowd-pleasers including Maggie May, Tonight’s the Night and Sailing, and soul standards, which illustrate how, even at an elder age, Stewart’s voice remains strong. The First Cut is the Deepest, I’d Rather Go Blind (despite having to be restarted) and Have I Told You Lately were all given understated renditions, which meant they were among the highlights here.