ConcertMusicNorth East & YorkshireReview

Rod Stewart – First Direct Arena Leeds

Reviewer: Rich Jevons

The twelve thousand-strong audience are eager with anticipation for the appearance of rock legend Rod Stewart. He kicks off with Some Guys Have All the Luck which seems appropriate given the gorgeous girls he has in his backing band! They are not just there for eye candy though, all are masterfully trained in an instrument, including violin, viola, harpsichord and mandolin.

Rod then goes on to cover It Takes Two, first recorded in 1965 by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston for Motown’s Tamla label. Emotions run high for the anti-homophobia ballad The Killing of George which features some great backing vocals and as Rod points out is a message of support for all those who dare to be different.

More up tempo is Young Turks which comes complete with a dynamic percussive interlude and rocking guitar solo. Next up is a cover of Sam Cooke’s Twistin’ the Night Away with a fabulous honking saxophone letting rip, the nostalgic Downtown Train and the gritty Dirty Old Town.

Then it is time for Rod to have a little rest (yes, he’s no spring chicken!) as he and the backing band take a sit down for the ballads The First Cut is the Deepest (a real tearjerker), I Don’t Wanna Talk About It and You’re in My Heart which have the audience singing along to these classic tunes.

Rod’s sensitive side can also be seen in his rendition of Grace, an Irish ballad about the Easter Uprising and its tragic events. Another cover is Van Morrison’s Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? which Rod makes all his own. He comes back on in a spangly suit and delivers the beautiful and poetic Maggie May. Then of course there is the inevitable D’Ya Think I’m Sexy with a cascade of balloons to thrill the audience who are by this time ecstatic with joy.

The mobile phone torches come out for the climax of the gig, Sailing from Atlantic Crossing which is a highly emotional end to an exquisite evening. I would say Rod is back but he never went away and still really has a star stage presence and a voice to die for. Catch him at the London gigs if you can!


Reviewed on 11 December 2019 at First Direct Arena | Image: contributed

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Mark Clegg. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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