Rod Stewart kicks off final ‘rock’ tour with rousing set at Fort Worth’s Dickies Arena

·8 min read

If this really was the beginning of the end for Rod Stewart as a rock and roll star, it was a pleasure to witness.

Stewart kicked off his 24-date North American Tour Friday at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth sounding not at all like he’s ready to give up on up rock and roll.

He told Forbes a month ago that this tour, which will hit the United Kingdom in the fall and return to North America in 2023, is likely to be the last time he’ll perform most of the rock and roll classics he’s best-known for over his six-decade career.

“I want to move on and just do the classics and the swing stuff, but I don’t want to be singing ‘Hot Legs’ when I’m 80,” Stewart said, referring to his ”Great American Songbook” collection and a forthcoming album he’s recorded which he describes as rock and roll-styled swing tunes. “I’m not retiring, but this will be the last time we do these songs in America. I just want to make a clean sweep.”

Stewart, 77, is one of those singers (and songwriters) who has been ubiquitous on the radio since his 1971 album “Every Picture Tells a Story.”

He has been part of the soundtrack for young Baby Boomers and Generation X, and has written and performed a bunch of songs that Millennials know but aren’t sure of the title or singer. He crammed in many of those, some he wrote, some he didn’t write but made his own, and some, like the opener, Rober Palmer’s “Addicated to Love,” he performed as a tribute.

Stewart, along with his six, multi-talented female band members and backup singers recreated Palmer’s iconic video for the song.

“Thank you for coming out tonight and spending your money,” he said early in the one hour, 45-minute show. “I know gasoline is very expensive, money is scarce. God bless you, it’s going to be worth your while, trust me.”

Of course it was. The man has too many good songs in his arsenal if his voice remains strong and he chooses to sing them. Despite Friday being the tour opener (although he technically played a full, but slightly different set two weeks ago in California) his voice was gravelly smooth and the six-piece band, including two guitarist, a bassist, a drumer, a keyboardist, and saxophonist, was tight. The six female back-up singers routinely danced in choreagraphed movements, took turns playing a plethora of instruments including the fiddle, violin, harp, and mandolin, and proved to be the shows secret weapon.

A few times Stewart seemed to be providing perhaps a little bit more stage direction than usual and once he had to call back his band when he momentarily forgot the setlist.

“So we’re a little bit nervous but so far I think we’ve done pretty well and so have you,” he quipped early on.

“Forever Young” segued into a celtic hoedown romp featuring violin and fiddle before Stewart returned to the stage to reprise “Forever Young.” It was a nice variation and a nod to Stewart’s heritage.

His introduction to a late addition to the set, which he told the crowd the band rehearsed that afternoon, seemed a bit odd. It was a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s classic “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” He introduced it as if it was a country song, not one of the most seminal rock songs ever recorded by a group from Northern California.

He dedicated “Rhythm of My Heart” to Ukraine in its fight for freedom against Russia with an image of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Ukraine flag filling up the screens behind and on either side of the stage.

Stewart still moves around the stage well, if not as fast paced as in his younger days. But he’s still kicking (and throwing) soccer balls into the audience and we’d all be so lucky to look as good as he does nearing 80. Mick Jagger may still be the most manic touring rock and roll singer alive but Stewart’s boyish looks, famously spiky hair and svelte figure give Jagger a run for his money.

The 23-song set included several stage breaks for Stewart with two cover songs sung by one of his six female, multi-talented background singers/musicians/dancers. Both of them, Blondie’s “Call Me” and Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” sounded great and allowed Stewart to not only catch his breath, but also change his outfit three times.

Most importantly, though, Stewart’s voice is still strong in all of its raspy glory.

The set included a five-song acoustic portion towards the end of the show in which Stewart and his band all sat on chairs at the front of the stage. He introduced the first of those songs “The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II)“ from 1976 by explaining how gratifying the feedback he has received from listeners over the years who were struggling with their sexuality. The background helped add tom poigancy to the lyrics.

He tried, in gest perhaps, to take credit for asking crowds to sing along for the first time back when he was in the band Faces. It never worked, he said. But Friday in Fort Worth, it was working. The crowd of about 12,500 sang along loudly and proudly to most songs, especially when promted on hits such as “Maggie May,” “People Get Ready,” “You’re in My Heart,” and “Tonight’s the Night.”

Couples were swaying and hugging along to his cover of Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately” and dancing and singing along to the shows closers: “Hot Stuff” sung by the backup singers, and “Hot Legs” and “Stay with Me,” arguably Stewart’s most iconic rock songs, along with “Maggie May.”

Neither version highlighted the swagger and raunch of the originals, which were sexxed-up 1970s classic rock at its best.

That’s probably another sign of why Stewart is looking down the road with classics like those in the rear view mirror.

But, in fact, his version of “Maggie May,” a song beloved worldwide and played in the middle of the set, received the type of treatment only a tune that helped change Stewart’s life deserved. Alone at the front of the stage, Stewart, arms outstretched, softly sung the opening lyrics to “Maggie May” with an etheral keyboard drone helping build the suspense before the entire band kicked into a classic rendition of the tune. It was a magical moment that only rock and roll can provide.

Let’s hope Stewart gets it all out of his system by the end of 2023, for his sake.

Cheap Trick, one of America’s greatest rock bands and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers blasted through a 13-song set as the opener, which too many late arrivers missed.

Lead singer Robin Zander and lead guitarist Rick Nielsen have enough classic matieral to do a two-hour set, which made their 13-song, 45-minute set a blast of high-tempo staples such as “Dream Police, “Surrender,” and “I Want You to Want Me.” Zander’s vocals still resonate on the ballad “The Flame” and he sounded like a young Axl Rose (in a very cool way) during “Light Up the Fire.”

Rod Stewart set list, Dickies Arena, Fort Worth, Texas (July 1, 2022)

1. Addicted to Love (Robert Palmer cover)

2. You Wear It Well

3. Ooh La La

4. Some Guys Have All the Luck

5. Having a Party (Sam Cooke cover)

6. It Takes Two (Marvin Gaye/Kim Weston cover)

7. Forever Young

8. The First Cut Is the Deepest (Cat Stevens cover)

9. Have You Ever Seen the Rain? (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)

10. Maggie May

11. I’d Rather Go Blind (Etta James)

12. Young Turks (with snippet of West Side Story’s America)

13. Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?

14. Rhythm of My Heart (Marc Jordan cover)

15. Call Me (Blondie cover)

16. The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II)

17. People Get Ready (The Impressions cover)

18. You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)

19. Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)

20. Have I Told You Lately (Van Morrison cover)

21. Hot Stuff (Donna Summer cover)

22. Hot Legs

23. Stay With Me

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