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August 14, 2018

“I might have been knighted but I was never a soldier!”

PPG Paints Arena Pittsburgh, PA, 10th August 2018 Review By Marcy Braunstein

posted by Mike Walton

The show in our home-town of Pittsburgh on Saturday, August 11th was the only arena show I am scheduled to go to during this US Tour so my emotions ranged from the excitement of my first show of the tour combined with the sadness of my last show. Although my husband insists I’ll show up at one of the other shows.

My first observation was that the 13-14,000 in attendance at the PPG Arena certainly came to see Rod but they also love Cyndi Lauper very much. There were loads of women in Pink Hair although Lauper may have surprised them when she came out with her white hair this tour. They went crazy when she came down front and out into the crowd. Many immediately stood and came to the front to dance but it looked like security was chasing them away. Cyndi responded to that by coming down the steps at the front of the stage and berating security. She said this is Pittsburgh and this is what we do here. She said dancing is good for the spirit —
and the circulation. And then she said she knows that because she is getting “F**king old”

She personalized her comments to Pittsburgh more by mentioning that Billy Porter, who I think wrote one of the songs for “Kinky Boots” was from here and that she loved the fact that the Penguins play at this arena because she was a hockey mom herself when her kids were younger. I suppose since we’ve seen photos in the news of Rod laying on the grass with Beckham in the background at Alastair’s games we can surely picture Cyndi Lauper taking her kids to hockey games.

Lauper was much more political last tour when the results of our presidential election were fresher, however she did encourage folks to get out and vote and then made the ridiculous statement “because if we don’t, who knows, we could all be speaking Russian someday.” I have to admit, I may have dropped my own F-bomb after that one!

Anyhow enough of “Girls just want to have fun” and the Russians and on to the Rock Star of the evening. Rod was in a wonderfully good mood even though this show was on the heels of a Celtic loss. I’m sure part of his good mood was attributed to it simply being a Saturday night but he made several comments throughout the evening that he appreciated the overwhelming welcome he received here. The audience went wild from the time he initially came out and stood and danced most of the evening. And I would be remiss if I didn’t say he was not only fantastically dressed and looked very fit but his voice was superb.

The set list was similar to what others have reported with a few surprises. He said he wanted to pay tribute to those who influenced him-mentioning Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Muddy Waters-but said the first album he ever bought was one of Chuck Berry’s and launched into an energetic version of “Sweet Lil Rock and Roller”. That brought back memories of years ago when he used to jump up on speakers in his spandex.

He brought out Cyndi Lauper and they did “It Takes Two” which obviously was a good song for a duet. They really have amazingly good chemistry together. You can tell they like and respect each other. I would describe Lauper’s style as a young Rod, although she’s a different genre. Their two voices blended really well.

What would a Rod concert be without the occasional cock-up of the evening? It happened when a visual of the “Out of Order” album appeared on the screen and he said he was going to do a new song. Amidst the confusion, the cords for “Maggie May” started and he said “I fooled you, didn’t I” and of course messed up the lyrics as usual—but that’s okay as the audience got them right. It was odd hearing “Maggie” in the middle of the show, but it worked. The song came with new visuals on the screen with the word “Maggie” in big blue letters all over the place.

The new song he did sing was “Grace” and introduced it as the most tragic love story he’s ever recorded. He told the story for the backdrop of the song which occurred during the 1916 Irish rebellion when a captured rebel leader was allowed a 15- minute wedding ceremony to his childhood sweetheart on the eve of his execution under the watchful eye of armed guards. He emphasized that he did not write this song and that the lyrics were written he thought in the 1980’s and are from the viewpoint of the wife. The lyrics of the song along with photos of the couple were displayed on the screen and combined with Rod’s interpretation of the lyrics was the most powerful song of the evening. Rod mentioned that he understood that there was a large contingent of Irish in this part of PA and encouraged folks to look this story up.

Another surprise was that the first song of the sit-down was “You’re in My Heart”. There were also new visuals for “Have I Told you Lately”.It looked like there was a painter—maybe a guy in love—getting up on a ladder and painting big red hearts.Rod also surprised the crowd by coming out at one point waving a Terrible Towel—a reference to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Something Rod said after “Rhythm of my Heart”, which he dedicates to men and women who serve in the military and then shows the visual of his Knighting ceremony really touched me. He said “I might have been Knighted, but I was never a soldier”. WOW—what a tribute to the soldiers who have served and are serving now and how humbling a statement for him with what he’s accomplished in his life deserving of Knighthood!

There was tap-dancing by the gal who replaced Becca—I think her name is Katie. It was different though because she danced to the tune of dueling violins which was a really good addition. Di Reed did a great version of the first song Tina Turner recorded “Nutbush” but I have to say that nothing will ever compare to her performance of “Proud Mary”. By the way I greatly miss Conrad!!! Very sad to find he is not currently performing in the Rod’s band.

Rod ended the show with “Sailing” which although I should have expected it after hearing it from other reviews but it shocked me that I was sitting (I mean standing) in Pittsburgh, let along the US, and he was singing “Sailing”. Rod noticed a section clear at the top of the arena that was filled with white lights swaying to the song and he appeared touched and made sure he pointed up and blew them a kiss.

So it was indeed my first show of the tour—will it be my last—it’s supposed to be. Either way, we’ll see him in Vegas in the fall!

Review By Marcy Braunstein
Photos By Marcy Braunstein
Montage By Tommy Kevitt

© 2019 SMILER Magazine

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