Every music fan tells a story …
A young bluesman with a voice as scratchy as a Bluesman’s old amplifier, so full of promise as the greatest vocalist in Blues / Rock history – sells his ‘Sam Cooke’ soul at the Kmart crossroads for corporate longevity.
Blah, blah, blah …
Yes it happened. Yes it is sad. Yes the year is 2013 and all that no longer matters.
Mr. Stewart pulled his sleigh into Montreal last night with gifts for everyone at Le Centre Bell.
Presents for the Blues fans, offerings for the Disco fans and soccer balls for the ‘quick on the feet’ crowd. He even brought his daughter Ruby ( whose Mom is Kelly Emberg) along for the ride. Add longtime pal Steve Winwood as the opening act – everyone in attendance and on stage got something!
Winwood and his backing band were simply outstanding …
Who knew Winwood could play guitar like a man on a mission? How old is the guy? Ninety – two?
Aside from his distinctive voice, his trademark ‘keyboard’ playing and lust for some of the most powerful percussion – driven tracks in Pop / Rock history, Winwood’s solo work on guitar is impressive. He – along with guitarist Jose Neto ( the Netoband as back-up) providing something unexpected. True rock n roll guitar solos ….
Traffic fans got their fix with ‘Low Spark of High Heeled Boys’ and the fantastical ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy’. The latter providing a platform for a trip into the basement of the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. So much substance within a song. So much foundation for what followed in Rock history including a foreword for Winwood’s eventual ‘Arc of a Diver’.
The Spencer Davis Group fanbase in the crowd also got what they wanted. ‘I’m a Man’ started Winwood’s set while one of the sixties – themed tunes ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ ended the fun. In between – Blind Faith’s ‘Can’t Find my Way Home’ and Winwood’s mega – hit ‘Higher Love’ reminded the crowd of Stevie’s legacy …
‘Dirty City’ continued it.
Rod Stewart is the opposite of Winwood. Coming from the same school of a musical era – it would have been nice to see Rod front Winwood’s band. To discover the Rod the world once knew …
Stewart is an enigma that way.
Part Pop diva as displayed on songs such as last night’s ‘Forever Young’ (sung with daughter Ruby), ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’ and ‘Some Guys Have All the Luck’. Three tunes which turned FACES fans into Stones fans. Fanatics of ‘Stay with Me’ and ‘Sweet Little Rock n Roller ( Chuck Berry).
Part Crooner as seen in the past few years. Very few sing ballads the way Stewart does. ‘ Maggie May’, ‘Tonight’s the Night’, ‘You’re in My Heart’, ‘The First Cut is the Deepest’ and ‘Have I Told You Lately’ – bring tears close to the surface in the most hardened of criminals.
Give credit to Rod for one thing; his undying love to the soul music of former greats such as Sam Cooke. To disregard trends and pay hommage to the past in a time when it was not trendy – a coup for Rod the Mod. ‘This Old Heart of Mine’ and ‘Having a Party’ started the party in the proper way.
His backing band – consisting of a female sax player, a Montreal orchestral contingent and female back up singers with voices close to perfection, a professional front – line for a stage as elegant as a ballroom dance floor. No empty Whiskey bottles and discarded cigarette butts allowed …
Therein lies the enigma.
The show misplaced Rod’s talents along the way and a long time ago. Montreal has heard all the songs from last night many times live ( Sailing excluded – see Burnett, Richard).
Rod carries them as well as ever. His voice appears to have been suspended in time (a head cold non – withstanding). Age has slowed his once ‘all over the place’ physical performance although kicking soccer balls the distance of the Bell Center during ‘Hot Legs’ – a fairly impressive feat.
All in all, when the years and Rod Stewart have passed, history will forgive both.
It will forgive the latex costumes of the 70’s. It will forgive ( although admire the courage of) The Great American Songbook. It will turn another cheek to Rod letting his daughter Ruby sing an original song;’ Just One More Day’, following three mind – blowing vocal performances by his female backing singers (maybe he does not like Ruby)? As good as Ruby was – a definative hard act to follow ..
History will forgive Mr. Stewart for one important reason …
When every music fan of different genres tells a story – Rod Stewart will be a main character. A leading man as timeless as Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye or Tom Sawyer in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Like any great novel, when read occasionally, something brilliant catches your eye. In Rod’s case – something brilliant catches the ear.
A voice that will never be duplicated and a charm few possess …
Highlight of the Night: Rod singing Sailing for local Gazette scribe Richard Burnett.
Highlight #2: The Killing of Georgie Part 1 and 2
Lowlight: Proud Mary sung by back up singers while Rod changed clothing.
Lowlight #2: Lack of content on big screen i.e. Showing same pics over and over.
Heartfelt moment: Rod singing a duet with his daughter on Forever Young
Heartfelt moment #2: Rod Singing Have yourself a Merry Little Xmas while snowflakes rained down on a Charlie Brown Xmas tree …