The first words that come to mind when speaking about Rod Stewart are the obvious adjectives: talented, tireless and terrific. After those though, the undisputed descriptors of the man are “unpretentious” and “joyous”. For someone who’s been on the music scene for over half a century, the man performs with the liveliness and attitude of an act just starting out. The crowd at the Air Canada Centre this past Thursday night witnessed the veteran and all these qualities in action.
An extravagant stage set-up had Stewart and his large backing band playing on a checkerboard floor, with the many different outfits all complementing the music and background visuals. Stewart himself went through no less than five costume changes as his set traversed from a Celtic theme to a more laid-back portion to a high energy finish. A few songs saw Stewart performing in bright yellow socks, as he had thrown his shoes into the audience for some ecstatic fans.
The overarching theme of the night seemed to be “having fun”, and that’s exactly the impression Stewart gave for the whole show. Constantly joking, laughing and bounding around jovially, he was very much the embodiment of his hit single “Forever Young”, one of the many fan favourites he brought out. A large part of the night was devoted to covers which he’d prelude with a small introduction about what the original artist or song means to him. In one example of his cheeky humour, he introduced one song by saying, “this next one is by one of the greatest artists of our era….Rod Stewart”.
As mentioned before, his backing band was a whole host of multi-talented musicians. Several of the dancers were also fiddlers, drummers, and harpists. Stewart was very proud of them, at points almost fatherly as he watched them show off their skills. During his costume changes they took charge and played songs on their own – something the crowd did not mind at all.
In addition to hits like “Young Turks”, “The First Cut is the Deepest” and “Maggie May”, Stewart entertained the crowd with his trademark soccer skills, launching a few balls into the arena. The man has not lost a bit of spark over the past 50+ years, and this night was a testament to that fact.
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