Do you know how an artist’s music is the soundtrack to your life? We do...
My family and I arrived at the Reno Event Center about 2 hours before Showtime Saturday Night Nov 3rd. We are early and take our seats 4th row about middle. I am with my Wife, 2 daughters and their husbands, in mid-20’s, We are excited, and I start to reflect on how we got here and why.
I thought of when I first heard a Rod song: I was 12 years old and I heard my sister playing the "Atlantic Crossing" album at her 14th birthday party. I must have listened to “I don't want to talk about it” and " It's not the spotlight” for hours that night after the party. Since then I was hooked. The voice, the soulful music, and the uniqueness of style and of course the look.Here I was at a Rod concert, the crowd was excited and waiting to hear Rod.
I attended my first Rod Stewart concert March 9th, 1979 at the Blaisdell arena in my hometown of Honolulu Hawaii. 17 yrs. old and I bought tickets for all three nights, back in the day when you had to spend the night outside for 2 days to be first in line.
Here I am 40 years later just as excited!
The band starts to play Soul finger and introduces Rod who rolls out on a scooter because of his fractured foot. My respect level went up for this man whose music had with been with me my entire life still willing to perform and right away apologizes for cancelling the concert which was scheduled for August.
My daughter’s Allison and Mary’s faces beam when he starts to sing “Infatuation”, sounding as powerful as ever! I looked at the happiness upon my daughter’s faces and wondered if Rod had any idea the impact, he's made on the lives of so many people and families in this world. Especially mine! My daughters were in tears as they looked at the man who music has been the soundtrack of our lives. My mind went back to the time I bought tickets to Rod’s concert on July 31st, 1989.
I had bought them months in advance but unfortunately my wife and I couldn't go because that was the night my wife gave birth to my first daughter Allison. So, the tickets went unused. We missed the concert and my wife felt a bit guilty, but that went after seeing our 1st born! That was a one in million chance, or so I thought. Three years later we had tickets for Rod’s concert February 15th, 1992 at the Hollywood Bowl. Again, months in advance. But that was the night my daughter Mary decided to be born… Now this time I actually thought about going to use those box seat tickets, but I made the wise choice seeing my 2nd daughter born! 😊
Saturday in Reno, Rod Stewart sounded better than ever when he started to sing “Some guys have all the luck”, my personal favorite. I again looked at my girls smiling and singing and dancing and I had a flashback of us dancing around the house with my 2 and 5-year-old girls, one in each arm. And here they are 20 years later still singing and dancing with their Dad.
Just then my girls screamed when they saw themselves on the big screen behind Rod. Tears rolling down my face as my daughters were “on stage” with Rod Stewart! Rod continued to sing the hits and yet only 1 song from “Blood Red Roses”, his brilliant new Album. He sounded on top blues form with “Rollin’ & Tumblin’.
As Rod started to sing his classic song Forever Young, I became a bit more emotional. I thought of me singing the song to my wife quite often 15 years ago when she first developed a Neurological disease CIDP. Similar to M.S. it robs her body of feeling and control. An extreme numbness that has stricken her body and made it almost impossible for her to control her body. As Rod Stewart sang this beautiful song I looked at my wife's with tears streaming down my face that she was standing there with my son-in-law holding her up unable to stand on her own power. If only Rod Stewart knew how much this song meant to my wife and I. We sang it many times during the tough moments, at night to my small children, in hospitals and church services. The lyrics are in poster form and hang on the walls of my daughters’ homes!
As we heard each song Rod played this night, "Downtown train", "You’re in my heart", "Do ya think I’m Sexy", his voice in rare form and looking Forever Young, I truly realized these are the very songs that played at our wedding, our children's parties, in the car driving to work and in our homes daily! We anticipated each new CD/Album that came out so that we could have new music to the soundtrack of our lives.
As Rod moved across the stage as best as he could in obvious pain because of his fractured foot, I realized how much I admired how real he was as a person! No pretense or superficial “Thank you, I love you Reno” statements. He is a natural born performer who talks to his audience like he's known them personally for years.
Then came the moment my family had been waiting for, for nearly five months. Rod introduced the next song with lyrics that could help heal the division among the people and bring unity! I knew the song by the way he spoke of it. “Have I told you lately that I love you”. This song is very special to our family. See the last time I attended a Rod Stewart concert was back in March of 2017 and I was with my father Al Romero Sr. His one and only Rod concert. “Have I Told You” was my Father's favorite song! Why? 20 years ago, during my dad's cancer battle he was still in Hawaii and I was in California. My Dad contracted cancer from playing in so many nightclubs his whole life. 2nd hand smoke. My Dad was an excellent bass player and vocalist for years.
As Rod Stewart started to sing our song, my mind flashed back to the time when over 20 years ago I received a cassette in the mail of this song my “Pop” sent me with a post it note that read, “Son, this song always reminds me of you! I love you so much! Pop.” Last March I had the opportunity to share a special moment with Pop. As Rod sang our song, my Dad held my hand with tears rolling down his face and didn't say anything, he just smiled. And then a bigger grin as he admired the bass solo!
See last Saturday night couldn't have been more perfect. I saved our money the last several months, so I could take my family to see Rod and to pay tribute to my father who passed away of a major heart attack on June 4th of this year as we were talking in his room. My Dad was only a Youthful 78 and my best friend! We sang in the same band for years and yes, we had a few Rod songs in the repertoire.
As the concert continued, Rod engaged the audience even scooting to the left and right of the stage to dance with the people. Rod has not missed a step with his voice or his ability to connect with his audience. There were still people of all ages. Just my family alone ranges from 20s to 50 years old. The fans were screaming constantly and there were a few drunks in the crowd and in front of us. They were a bit rowdy but nothing to take our focus away from this man whose music has meant so much to us. Every song a memory of a certain point of our lives. Rod sang “Rhythm of my heart”, Mary’s fav and of course “Maggie May”, Allison’s fav. Again, I marveled at the “Voice”, that unique voice that for some reason has always touched my heart and one of the main reasons and influences as to why I myself became a vocalist. My mind took me back to nightclubs singing “Hot Legs” and “Wild Side of Life”. (By the way, today I am now a Church Pastor!)
Now as the show started to end, Rod started to sing “Stay with me” and brought out the famous soccer balls. We are fans of Celtic football Club and we were all wearing our jerseys to honor Rod and Celtic, which we knew had beaten Hearts 5-0 that day! Rod had to mention the score as well! Rod could not kick but began to throw them out. The one time he attempted a kick he said a bit of a curse and a gave a bit of a wince. Trooper! One of the great things I've admired about Rod is his care for his fans. When he started, he had to scold a man who ripped a soccer ball from a lady. Rod actually stopped the music to make sure that she got the soccer ball and kindly asked for that person to “be a gentleman”. But I must say Rod did give the “gentlemen” quite the stare down! Rod did throw a soccer ball in my direction, but I had the misfortune of having a very tall man in front of me who snapped the ball just inches from my hand. The same gentleman snatched a second ball away from me. But amazingly Rod threw a ball in direction of my son-in-law Jack who caught it! His wife, my daughter Allison, was so excited and said “Dad, Jack caught it for you!” I thought, what a perfect way to cap this night and this moment with my family. But then Rod threw a second ball in my family's direction and my son-in-law Tommy caught it! My daughter Mary, his wife, started to cry and had quite the shocked look on her face! I then looked back at Rod and realized he had been trying to get me a soccer ball.
I am all of 5 foot 7. He motioned with his hand and told me to get up on the chair and said to me “One more!”. Must have been the Celtic shirt! But I believe it was meant to be mate! Rod threw the soccer ball but this time I was high enough to catch it, and when I did, Rod gave a thumbs up and smiled! Then my whole family in shock, we all started laughing and crying!.
My daughters Allison and Mary and my wife Debbie and my sons-in-law Jack and Tommy, all had such a release of emotion as so many memories flooded into our minds and hearts for how much this man's music has meant to us.
As the concert came to a close, Rod sang “Sailing”, one of my favorite songs. My family held hands, shed tears and gave thanks for a moment of unity and celebrating the goodness of life as we listened to the soundtrack of our lives. Afterwards we stayed in the arena just laughing enjoying the moment. Then someone came up to us and said, “How did you get all those soccer balls?” My wife looked at her with a bit of a smile and said, “It took us over 40 years to get them!”
See, for over 47 years, Rod’s music has helped me through a tough childhood. awkward high school days, singing songs at talent shows, weddings, births, having my daughters born the night of his concerts. Singing with my family songs that celebrated our lives! Connecting me with my father during a cancer battle and my wife during her neurological battle. Rod’s music helped heal our family when “Pop” passed 4 months ago as we paid tribute to my Dad this past June at his celebration of life. Myself, my wife, my daughters anticipate each new CD sharing them with other family members adding more music to the soundtrack of our lives.
Regretfully, I will probably not be able to ever to thank Rod Stewart in person or to have a conversation with him, but I would like Rod to know I thank the good Lord for blessing him with a voice and a talent that has been such a gift to my family.
Thank you Sir Rod, and may the good Lord keep you and your family safe and healthy always.
Love, and you are forever part of the Romero family
Review By Alfredo Romero
Photos By Alfredo Romero
montage By Tommy Kevitt