Rod Stewart, Arena Birmingham - review with pictures

Rod Stewart has a simple job - all he has to do is convince you over two hours that simply being Sir Rod Stewart is the best job in the world.

Rod Stewart at Arena Birmingham. Photo: Andy Shaw.
Rod Stewart at Arena Birmingham. Photo: Andy Shaw.

And you know what, with that famously tousled hair and dressed in a gold and black jacket, he absolutely nailed it, on a chilly post-election Friday night in front of 15,000 people who simply wanted to party.

Mind you, Rod was in the mood for celebrating too as he had just scored his 10th number one album, setting a new chart record in the process with You’re In My Heart, his collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

At the age of 74 years and 11 months, that makes him the oldest male solo artist to have a number one album in the UK.

Kicking off with the knowing Some Guys Have All The Luck, and surrounded by a crack band and a bevy of blonde (of course) backing singers, Rod had the audience in the palm of his hand from the off, with a wraparound video screen that simply exploded into life.

Concert photo gallery:

His cover of Sam Cooke's Having A Party, was a mission statement of a song and it was clear that that gloriously gnarled voice was in fine form.

Bar one excursion into his last studio album, Blood Red Roses, this was an evening of punch drunk hits, from the rousing singalong of Tonight's The Night and Forever Young to gorgeous versions of I don't Want To Talk About It and Maggie May, and a tender performance of The Killing of Georgie (both parts).

Raising a celebratory glass to the audience at one point Rod slightly misquoted Dean Martin's line that "I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day".

There was one point of discord though, as twice Rod strayed into the political arena, referring to the general election and Brexit, decreeing: "We should have got out two years ago". Later, he introduced the song Grace, from Blood Red Roses, with a preamble about the story behind it, the brutal quashing by the British of an early 20th century uprising in Ireland. The song is beautiful, but the introduction sparked at least one cry of "Stop the politics!" from behind me.

Back to business through and through a variety of clothes changes - black trousers and sparkly white jacket, followed by a sparkly red number - the hits kept coming.

Your in My Heart featured a video celebrating one of Rod's biggest passions, Celtic FC, and his cover of Tom Wait's Downtown Train featured another, with the star pleading with the audience not to laugh at the accompanying video of his famous train set.

Laugh? You've got to be kidding; this is no oval track on a piece of chipboard but a lovingly created and enormous cityscape, modelled on New York and Chicago circa 1945, with a few typical Rod Stewart twists (some very cheeky company names on the front of a couple of the buildings).

Rod's backing singer trio got their own moment in the spotlight as he left the stage to them for an audience singalong of Fleetwood Mac's Go Your Own Way, leading to a glorious final run in of Da Ya Think I'm Sexy, Baby Jane and, of course, Sailing.

With that Rod took a bow, the curtains came down and the fans streamed into the night.

Being Rod Stewart? Yeah, it looks like a mighty fine job.

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