Rod Stewart Brings Vegas To Madison Square Garden

12/12/2013
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(Radio.com) If there's one thing you can say about Rod Stewart, it's that he loves being Rod Stewart. This includes his voice, still remarkably soulful and powerful after five decades; his charisma, which was barely contained by Madison Square Garden Monday night (December 9); his song catalog, packed with hits from the '70s, '80s and even the '90s, which still seems to be a work in progress. Monday's set included "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" from last year's Merry Christmas Baby and "Can't Stop Me Now" and "Brighton Beach" from this year's Time. Oh, and the fact that he's still surrounding himself by beautiful girls, including two-thirds of his horn section, three backing singers, a violinist and even a harp player.

Stewart's biggest skill other than singing is playing the audience. From the minute he bounded onstage to his cover of the Isley Brothers' "This Old Heart Of Mine" to the last notes of "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" he was as much a virtuoso at hamming it up as support act Steve Winwood is on keyboards and guitar.

Easily sliding between his '70s classics ("You Wear It Well," "Stay With Me," "Tonight's The Night") and what some might refer to as his kitschier later material ("Rhythm Of My Heart," "Some Guys Have All The Luck") Stewart is comfortable singing any of his hits, regardless of how the rock intelligentsia has graded them. Which makes sense: after all, to the chagrin of many of his purist fans (not to mention his long-suffering bandmates in the Faces), he's been doing a lot of Vegas shows lately (check him out at Caesar's Palace in May of 2014!).

And really, holding on to the Rod Stewart of the early '70s in 2013 would be as churlish as expecting Michael Jackson to be the same kid from the Jackson 5, if he had lived to perform his "This Is It" concerts. You can sing the old songs, but you can't deny the decades that have passed. And hey, do you want to wear the clothes you wore 40 years ago?

With his costume changes, backing singers, his constant addressing the crowd as "Ladies and gentlemen," and the flashy stage, the Vegas influence was undeniable, and you either went with it, or you didn't. This wasn't "An Intimate Evening With Rod Stewart." And yet, when he sang the Etta James classic "I'd Rather Go Blind" from his 1972 classic Never A Dull Moment and the stage went dark and the spotlight focused only on Rod, it was a reminder of how powerful he can be. Similarly, "Stay With Me" was one of the evening's more straight ahead numbers (he introduced it by noting it was the Faces' only U.S. hit: "God bless the Faces!"); it surely had some old-school fans eagerly anticipating the Faces reunion that Rod says is "earmarked" for 2015. More including photos.

Radio.com is an official news provider for antiMusic.com.
Copyright Radio.com/CBS Local - Excerpted here with permission.

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