If you listen long enough to Rod, you’ll find a way to believe that it’s all true. You’ll find a reason to believe! Even with time to change your mind, you’ll find a way to believe that it's all true. Yes, still you’ll look to find a reason to believe!
Released in 1971 as the A side single, with Maggie May on the B side, now five decades later, Rod introduced it to his Winnipeg audience with his own trivia fact-check: Reason To Believe stands as his most-played and most-popular chart song in Canada . . . “strangely”, Rod added.
Sir Rod owns this crowd tonight and he knows it. He knows they believe. This assurance gives our recently-knighted rocker powerful licence to be himself, while enjoying his own show along with the rest of us. Oddly enough, this is what actually ends up making Rod’s show so special, setting it apart from other mere contenders.
Tuesday evening, he delivered a straight-ahead repertoire of legendary hits, with full amenities and no apologies. For almost two hours, Rod’s boundless energy and boyish, cheeky charm made his believers feel it’s a one-on-one conversation with each of us. Sir Rod loves what he does and it shows! He had a smile plastered across his face from the moment he stepped on stage and started belting out his best-time hits, with plenty of solos and time in the spotlight shared around. It’s as if he and his songs are immune to the passage of time.
The Winnipeg Police Pipe Band dressed in traditional red kilts, marched onto Floor Level and entertained us with a stellar pre-show performance to set the ambience for the evening. At precisely 7:00 p.m. Rod took the stage, launching Infatuation and playing the party host to ensure everyone had a good time! He seems to genuinely revere every opportunity to share another trip down memory lane with his adoring fans each time he steps onstage. It’s only by actually seeing him live, that you fully appreciate the astonishing amount of high calibre hits in his catalogue!
He fired off legendary hit after hit from the stage: Young Turks, Some Guys Have All The Luck, You Wear It Well, Tonight’s The Night, Love Is, Rhythm of My Heart, and Forever Young. Regardless of which hit he sings, fast or slow, original or cover tune, Sir Rod’s signature trademark has always been that raspy voice, and instantly-identifiable penetration of sound that’s a stand-alone instrument. Knowing no one else quite sounds like Rod, his famous cracked and sandpapered vocals sound as good as ever!
Rod graciously dedicated Rhythm of My Heart to our war veterans and fallen loved ones, whose sacrifices for our freedom will never be forgotten. In the same spirit, Rod dedicated People Get Ready to ‘The Never Again Movement,’ in poignant tribute to students rallying in North America for positive change, followed by Downtown Train, Reason to Believe, and You’re In My Heart.
Rod now introduces “one of the best classic love songs ever written” - Have I Told You Lately, followed by Rollin’ and Tumblin’, which he hints will appear on his forthcoming new album “Blood Red Roses” in September. Rod’s wardrobe changes always add to the sense of theatre which he brings to the stage, so no surprise that during Downtown Train he opts for a stunning black with gold braid Napoleon-style jacket. His final change is into the silver jacket and sneakers for his trademark ritual of kicking out autographed soccer balls during Stay With Me. For about two dozen lucky fans, this may arguably be their evening’s most unforgettable moment upon catching one of these unexpected souvenirs!
With everyone still on their feet, the celebratory Maggie May was a natural sing-along with our rooster-haired hero and thousands of his ecstatic
Winnipeg fans, and segued perfectly into the encore Da Ya Think I’m Sexy? With hundreds of balloons dropping from the ceiling, we were left with no doubt that he can still rock a pair of tight trousers. A pair of sunglasses were tossed onto the front of the stage, which Rod immediately donned to complete the bonafide rock-star look! You Wear It Well, Sir Rod.
Our evening’s Set List sadly did not include any Sam Cooke (nor Baby Jane, nor Enjoy Yourself - It’s Later Than You Think). I fondly recall the days when Rod would occasionally throw in Cooke’s ’Twistin’ The Night Away’, Chuck Berry’s ‘Sweet Little Rock ‘n Roller’, or Arthur Conley’s ‘Sweet Soul Music’! But Rod was not finished yet - he surprised us all by performing the classic gem ‘Sailing’, from his 1975 album Atlantic Crossing. It was simply one of those magical moments you will think about in years to come and be glad you were there to share the euphoria!
Our intimate evening with Sir Rod finished close to two hours after it began, but it felt like a lot less. Time flies when you truly have a ‘Reason To Believe’!
Soul Finger (The Bar-Kays cover) (Band only)
Some Guys Have All the Luck
You Wear It Well
Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)
Rhythm of My Heart
Reason to Believe
The First Cut Is the Deepest
People Get Ready
You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)
Have I Told You Lately
Proud Mary (Rod’s Girls and Band only)
Rollin' and Tumblin' (Muddy Waters cover)
Stay With Me
Encore 1: Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?
Encore 2: Sailing
Photos by Shanlee Johnson
Montage by Tommy Kevitt