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May 27, 2019

Rod transformed from Vegas Crooner back to international Rock Star

Páirc Uí Chaoimh Cork 25/5/19 Review By Gerard Rafferty

posted by Mike Walton



It was always going to be as special night in Cork after Rods interview on the "late late show" and his emotion on being handed the book of poetry by Joseph Mary Plunkett.It seemed that Ireland had adopted another son and the anticipation of him performing "Grace" in Ireland was Palpable!

On the walk to the ground street vendors were selling the usual "tat" associated with concerts but us Irish are extremely entrepreneurial and the usual tartan scarves were replaced with Green with "Grace" emblazoned across.Of course Rod has much more in his arsenal...but there is no doubt everyone including myself...a hardened and often critical Rod fan were waiting in anticipation for the moment!

The walk to Pairc ui Chaoimh was quite long and with no transport being allowed anywhere close most people seemed to make the journey early...that plus the fact that half the pitch was standing and people wanted to get the best spot ...meant that by 7.15pm the stadium was virtually full.

Anticipation was growing as the weather was good and most had learnt of Celtics win in the Scottish cup final earlier so we were expecting a jubilant Rod.

We were treated to some Pipers before "Johnny Mac and the Faithful" hit the stage. They got a great welcome and went down extremely well.

Johnny Mac a huge Celtic supporter singing to 35000 people after his team had just completed the treble was simply overcome.

I would encourage you all to watch them as they were great...they weren't self absorbed in themselves and played songs to get the crown going...namely "Galway Girl" and "The Fields of Athenry"...well actually the crowd sang them....it's easy to dismiss "back up" bands and with such crowd participation it would be easy to miss just how good a singer Johnny is and how accomplished musicians the band are. He left the stage after his set...well practically dragged off to rapturous applause and his claim that "This is the best day of my life".

I met Johnny after the concert and can confirm that he is a genuinely nice bloke who was simply mesmerised by the Cork crowd and the evenings atmosphere..If you are going to see Rod this tour...seriously give them a listen..you will be impressed.

So the mood was now set...the sun was setting on a beautiful evening...8pm came and passed then Penny and family walked to their seats about 3 rows behind me.

The band arrived on stage just after 8.15pm...and then He was there fireworks and deafening applause from the 35000 packed stadium greeted him and we were into "Infatuation"...wouldn't be my choice of opener but I guess everyone will have a favourite...so we were transported back to 1984 until I saw what Rod was wearing and we went a further 10 years back.

It was great to see that Rod the Rock Star had arrived on stage...polka dot shirt,black pants with red stripe,red and white spotted neckerchief and a leopard skin jacket...just what we want to see...no silly suits and ties and polished shoes...The Vegas entertained was "parked" for the evening and Rod the Rock Star was back...what joy.

From the start it just felt different..Rod was in charge and the band were His. His band to provide great musical backing and vocal accompaniment to the star of the show...and nobody was in any doubt who was in charge...yes they all got their moments and Rod acknowledged their talent but no sitting on knees or band banter.I had every intention of noting the order of play but as a long standing (and sometimes long suffering)Rod fan I sensed something was different tonight and I wasn't going to miss a thing.

Things were different alright!

He was soooooo enjoying himself..Celtic had won the treble some hours earlier the stadium was packed, the crowd were beside themselves with anticipation and let's face it he was in Ireland.

He told the crowd that he was so looking forward to tonight and had lots he wanted to say "but I've ####ing forgot everything ".

It's great to see "Young Turks" in the set..I love that song and we were treated to a second one off the "Tonight I'm Yours" album with the title track which he delivered curiously after singing "Georgie" (which curiously wasn't in the acoustic set)."Georgie" for me was the first poignant tear jerking moment with Rod introducing it as a song that many gay people relate to and have thanked him over the years for recording.It seems to have found new life in a more diverse and accommodating world and anyone who can write lyrics like..."Youths a mask but it don't last...live it long and live it fast..." is a great lyricist and that song should NEVER in my opinion be omitted from any of his concerts.I just wish he would listen to the lyrical content of "I was only joking" and include that as well...that would be priceless!
Only criticism...one verse omitted from Georgie!

"This is a song I recorded in 1971 the year my wife was born" and we were,I feel somewhat early in the show, into "Maggie" but who am I to criticise what sequence he plays the songs .The crowd don't care...and he has an archive of five decades to choose from.

The crowd were completely ecstatic and I am including Rod as part of the crowd...it was as if he was transformed..the voice fantastic...hitting falsetto notes and then stopping for the crowd to acknowledge as if to say...."How 'bout that then"? And just to let everyone know how good he actually is and without being cock sure, he had a little snipe at the Spice Girls who played Dublin the night before quipping "At least we're singing up here".

Of Course he has slowed down somewhat, he is 74 after all, but with that hair spiked to within an inch of its life and his cheeky charm and a gift of a voice he will be "Forever Young"....not my favourite song but a great little bit of Riverdance Irish dancing and Irish jig fiddling brought new life to the song much to the delight of the crowd and Penny who danced in the aisle with other revellers.It also allowed Rod to go and change into another Zara outfit (which he modeled to much laughter).

The customary seats arrived for the acoustic set! And then it arrived..No introduction...Grace!I seriously cannot describe the feeling.Every single person in the stadium knew every single word and the cliche "You had to be there" was never more true.I turned to look at Penny and she wasn't even facing the stage,instead she was filming the sea of mobile phone lights and the crescendo of sound coming from the back of the stadium and crashing onto stage.

I was 4 rows from the front and would could see the mesmerised looks on every band members face...this was special...perhaps a never to be repeated moment! YouTube, whilst great, just doesn't do the moment any justice...It truly was a "goose bump" 4.5 minutes.Rod visibly moved and with tears in his eyes..sat back,took a breath and said "God bless you"...a deafening response from the crowd drowned out Rod as he explained the great book of poetry written by Joseph Mary Plunkett.

"Let's have a good old song along" and we were into the rest of the acoustic set...and the crowd took over..."First Cut","I don't wanna talk about it","Have I told you lately?"and a very special "You're in my heart" with a tribute to Liam Miller who passed away last year. Very welcomed by the crowd in the very stadium that held a tribute match in his memory."Twistin the night away" saw Rod kick the customary footballs into the audience...no silly machines but a somewhat sad moment for us real fans when he announced that this was the last time he was gonna do this....Incredibly and as if by some twist of fate, I caught one...autographed of course but with Cork '19 written below...He did say some 15 years or more ago that he wasn't going to swear anymore on stage. So it will be interesting if his right foot gets retired...at least he is retiring from the bottom up so hopefully a few years before it reaches the voice.

Sailing sounded brilliant and the simple graphics of waves on the new stage added a wonderful backdrop for the 35000 choir.

The night finished with '....Sexy...." which whatever way he wants to spice it up is still(in my opinion)####.
I may forgive him this once though.

Baby Jane was the encore and then with Rod asking have we time for "one or two more?" he finished on "Rollin and a Tumblin'.

He left but not before thanking the crowd and telling them that (like Johnny Mac before him) "This was one of the best nights of my life".

Whether he meant it or not...the crowd certainly believed him and I can for one tell you that this was the best I have seen Rod in 20 years.

The highlights for me...
1.Grace
2.Georgie
3.I would rather go blind...Rod stripped back in the spotlight..pitch perfect
4.The whole acoustic set..crowd participation was sensational.
5.Rod transformed from Vegas Crooner back to international Rock Star

The new stage is great..big and bold but simple graphics highlighting song lyrics in case you forget which incidentally was another first for Rod...
I assume he meant to drop a verse from Georgie but aside from singing the 3rd verse 2nd in "Some Guys"...he never forgot a line....including "Baby Jane"...lol

A true masterpiece of a show...loved every second and one I will never forget.
Enjoy the show wherever you see him this summer.

And if you want to experience the goosebump moment of Rod singing Grace to a fully participative and emotional you better get to Dublin...ironically another show added hours after Cork.

Review Gerard Rafferty
Photo Gerard Rafferty
Montage Tommy Kevitt



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