As the band rolled into Cologne Germany Martin Heidt caught up with band member Amanda Miller to get a quick tour update here is what Amanda had to say..
SMILER: Two weeks ago the Rod Stewart European summer tour started in Berlin. How do you like the life between hotel rooms, airports, arenas and tour busses?
AMANDA: I’m absolutely loving it and embracing every moment of it. I’ve always had a desire to travel and the fact that I get to do what I love most while seeing the world is truly a dream come true. I have this whole new spurt of energy and excitement whenever we go to new cities. It’s fun to see the differences in the cities and what they all have to offer.. and it’s funny to see what you get excited about. “Ooh! What will be for dinner on the tour bus, I wonder what my hotel room view will be, I wonder what the crowd will be like in this city, etc”
SMILER: Even though there is only little time between the shows you always find time for some Sightseeing. Which city do you like best so far?
AMANDA: I’m so surprised that I have this much energy with how tight our schedule is but I also recognise I may not get the opportunity to see these places again so I always make the best out of it and squeeze in as much as I can. I always try to go for the top three things I wanna do and then pick a food dish to try that’s popular in that city or country! One of the best ways I’ve found to see the city is either go for a run around the city or bike it! My top three cities that I have seen since I’ve been with the band is Budapest, Amsterdam and Stockholm. They are INCREDIBLE.
SMILER: And which city on the upcoming tour schedule, are you looking forward to most?
AMANDA: There are so many great cities that I am excited for but Bristol lands up on top. I’ve just moved to Bristol to start my life there with my fiancé and it will be my “home” gig and I hear those English crowds are pretty impressive!
SMILER: Is there a Rod Stewart song you call your personal favourite? And why?
AMANDA: He has so many great hits but a lot of my favorites are the ones we are currently doing every night in our set list. My top two at the moment are “Tonight I’m Yours” and “Sailing” There isn’t a single night where I don’t have chills during Sailing and Tonight I’m yours is filled with powerful energy and is just plain fun to do.
SMILER: Many longtime Stewart fans attend not only one show on a tour but several concerts or sometimes even all of them. Have you already noticed that there are some familiar faces in the front row from show to show?
AMANDA: I’ve noticed lots of great faces around and everyone has been so friendly and really made the effort to show support. I’ve enjoyed chatting with people via social media and it’s really fun to hear everyone’s positive feedback. It’s a great community all of you have and it’s really special that so many people from all over the world can have an excuse to escape just for a little and just have a great time.
SMILER: What's motivating you more while you're on stage? A crowd that's sitting on their seats, spending applause from time to time? Or a crowd that's rockin around with the band, singing and dancing as loud as they can?
AMANDA: Oh, we LOVE a rowdy crowd! It makes it all the more fun for us and we feed off of you guys as well! Also, it’s rock and roll!
Martin also caught up with Rod, here he tells the story..
It was in Berlin on May 3rd. I was attending the first Rod Stewart Show show of the European tour at Mercedes-Benz-Arena. After a first break Rod returned on stage wearing new trousers and explained the audience: "This one is from Zara. Do you know Zara? I love Zara!".
On that day I was wearing my newly created SMILER jacket and before, during and after the show in Berlin I got a huge response from people asking: What's SMILER? Oh, great, I will check out the Fanclub Website as soon as I get home.“ And so on and so on …
On my way home the next day I thought that it might be a good idea to tell Rod himself about that jacket and the people's positive reactions on it.. By the way it might be a very proper stage dressing for Rod!
So I drove to Cologne last Saturday morning and was lucky enough to meet Rod at his hotel in Cologne. I presented the jacket with the SMILER logo on the front and told him about the positive reactions in Berlin. He obviously liked that very much and agreed immediately on a photo …
Of course I was wearing that special (and consecrated) jacket during the Cologne show as well. Maybe therefore (or not) the show in Cologne was one of the best concerts in Germany for many many years.
REVIEW COLOGNE 18. MAI 2019 – Lanxess Arena
It needs a long way back in history when you think about a similar fascinating Rod Stewart concert in Germany. Among the longtime Germany fans is Hamburg 2007 (In The Round) a kind of measuring staff. On this night in July 2007 Rod performed 29 songs in nearly 3 hours. And the After Show party at Finnegans Wake pub is still legendary today
Well, last Saturday's show at Lanxess Arena in Cologne came close to that, very close indeed. 14.000 people gathered around the Arena on a sunny evening in Cologne. Everyone was looking forward to Rod's fourth concert in Germany this year.
Exactly at 7.30 pm the opening music rang out, the curtain – decorated with the Blood Red Roses cover – fell and Rod opened the show with Love Train. Indeed a surprising opener for everyone, who expected Infatuation or Some Guys Have All The Luck as first song on the setlist.
Even the second song, Hot Legs, was a surprise, but got the people in the right mood for a remarkable night.
Rod announced "A 2 hour show with 22 songs" and turned up with a very powerful version of Young Turks, which was followed by the setlist classics Tonight's The Night, Forever Young, Rhythm Of My Heart and Some Guys Have All The Luck.
Rod was excited about the audience and didn't hesitate to say: "We are on tour now for two weeks, but this is the best audience on this tour so far." A roar of applause and loud cheers from the crowd was the result.
Mr. Stewart carried on with Tonight I'm Yours and the first real musical highlight - I'd Rather Go Blind. Rod, spotted by only one spotlight, impressed the 14.000 with his very strong voice and some very soulful parts. It's very good to notice, how strong his voice is at the moment. A fact, the UK fans can look forward to....
The show went on with a first change of clothes – Jimmy Roberts (Sax) and Emerson Swinford (Guitar) took the stage for a wonderful version of Mark Knopfler's Going Home. After that some of the hardworking people in the background brought a few chairs on stage – time for the Acoustic Part of the show with a favourite of many longtime fans: People Get Ready, followed by I Don't Want To Talk About It, The First Cut Is The Deepest, You're In My Heart and Have I Told You Lately. Rod announced this Van Morrison song by saying: "It is really a good version by Van Morrison. But not as good as mine..." … Thousandfold laughter from the audience – the Cologne people like Rod's kind of humour...
And it went on with another costume change. Time for the Girls (Amanda Miller: thank you once again for the brilliant SMILER interview) to take the stage for the Fleetwood Mac song Go Your Own Way. Obviously Rod took the short break not only for costume change but for new energy as well. He introduced two ball launchers – positioned on the right and the left side of the stage – to the people and demonstrated its function by fingering one first ball into the audience. After that short technical demonstration the band started playing Twisting The Night Away. Everybody got on their feet, hoping to catch one of those signed well known flying objects.
To calm down everyone Rod decided to present the probably ultimate favourite of German Stewart fans – Sailing. A thousand lights went on and old and young were singing along from the bottom of their hearts.
"Are you ready for more?", Rod asked. „ARE YOU READY FOR MORE???“ And yes, the audience WAS ready and Mr. Stewart gave them a very happy, sexy, joyful, varied and powerful version of Da Ya Think I'm Sexy.
Curtain down ….. Curtain up again ….
Another German favourite rang out – Baby Jane.
Curtain down …. The moment, we all feared for at that night …. The end of the show?
NO …. Curtain up once again ….
Rod surprised the 14.000 inside the Arena with a real cracker of his new album, Blood Red Roses: Rollin' & Tumblin' which wasn't on the original setlist, but obviously a reward by the singer for that wonderful audience …..
At the end of this night we all went home with a strong feeling that everyone at Lanxess Arena had a fantastic night and left the venue very very happily – whether on stage or off. And I was sure that Rod will definitely come back to Cologne on the next occasion whenever this might be. This night gave him a lot of fun.
As I write this today, almost 24 hours later, I'm still under the influence of that fantastic night out there in Cologne. Really can't wait for the next show to come.
Review Martin Heidt
Photos (Rod and the Girls) by Ruth Hannuschka
Photo (Stage curtain) by Ilona Romanek
Other photos By Amanda Miller/Martin Heidt
Montage By Tommy Kevitt