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July 8, 2019

Blessed by angels voice

Accor Hotels Arena Paris review By Gerard Rafferty 6/7/19

posted by Mike Walton

It's hard to believe that at 74 years old Rod Stewart is still touring.

There are many qualities that make up a rock star but Rod has one more than anybody else and one which has prevailed through all the glitz/glamour/models/Hollywood/image and the one thing that has been responsible for (almost) forgiving him for his Disco transgression and 'Da ya think I'm sexy?'...and that is He has a instantly,'Blessed by angels' voice and when he stands on stage stripped back singing 'I'd rather go blind' then you just know why he has stood the test of time...He can sing and yes of course his voice is a little different from when he first recorded it for 'Never a dull moment' back in 1972 but still nothing short of spectacular!

Of course us Rod fans crave more and more of this stuff from the live concerts...We don't get it often so when we do we savour it! Of course we all criticise and request but I guess we gotta ask the question...If he did everything we wanted/requested would he still be selling our venues at 74 years of age?

Whilst the true fans lapped up Hyde Park you could sense the air of disappointment from most of the audience when they didn't hear Maggie etc. Of course we all know that Hyde park set were all hits and acknowledge that Rod could still fill a set with the less popular hits...but we know he won't. We have to cherish the moments like we are currently getting with the likes of "...'Rather go blind'..." and sit back and enjoy the ride.

Last night in Paris I did just that and in addition to 'Rather go blind' I got 'Handbags'/'Reason to believe'/'Dirty old town'. Rod apologised for not returning to the arena sooner and as way of apology decided to mix up this part of the show by "Going back to my first two albums". 'Handbags'...nothing short of amazing. 'Reason to believe'...with 20,000 French singing along....almost equal to the rendation of 'Grace' in Cork before 'Dirty old Town' and then 'Have I told you lately'. Rod introducing the latter as a beautiful song by Van Morrison although mine is much better...Smiling he told the crowd that he was only joking....but he wasn't and it is.

I can't recall many Rod concerts that I have been to where he hasn't played 'You're in my heart' [aside from Hyde Park] but I would pass up most to hear 'Reason to Believe' which in my opinion just like 'Georgie' should NEVER be omitted...As us fans will know; that apart from being a beautiful song if really was the catalyst for Rods stratospheric launch to super stardom...'Maggie' was the B side originally!!

'Georgie' was introduced proudly by Rod explaining how many gay people over the years have thanked him for recording it...and it went down an absolute treat...I just wish he would sing the whole song...He always leave a verse out...and in my opinion the most important one...."The last time I saw George alive...." (you see us fans always like to criticise)!

He burst onto stage at 8.15 to 'Havin a party' and had the very receptive French audience on their feet from the off.
The Accor Arena is a great stadium and the sound was superb. It says it holds 20000 and there wasn't an empty seat, although it didn't look like 20000 ...The Manchester Arena looks bigger and that's the same capacity.

The Voice was outstanding the band tight as usual...I didn't know Emerson was referred to as Les! Rod said before leaving the stage to the band that Les was very nervous playing the next song ...He forgot Mark Knopfler's name for a moment...before handing the mile to Emerson/Les to say..."I'm very nervous"..all good fun...He should however include Jimmy Robert's in the acknowledgments.. as his sax playing during that particular song is sublime.

There were the usual Rod bloopers.. He started 'Young Turks' " Billy wrote a letter back home to Patti's parents..." for a second I thought he would start again but he just carried on. He introduced 'Tonight I'm Yours' as a great rocking song from 1986 (only 5 out). 'Rhythm of my heart' was emotionally introduced and fantastically received..with Rod thanking the French for their help during "that terrible time" 'Baby Jane' and 'Sexy' closed the show with 'Maggie' as encore....which ended a spectacular night.
No footballs..but he did say in Cork that that was the last time he was going to kick them out.

Highlights for me...

'Rather go blind'...Rod introduced it as recorded in 2 takes with 2 bottles of wine...French wine.

'Handbags'/'Reason' in the acoustic set...Rod very emotive in acknowledging 'Handbags' was recorded in 1969.looked very pensive and reflective when finished singing it.

'Georgie' ...Just because along with 'I was only joking' (which is another he should always include) are the best sets of lyrics Rod (or anyone) has ever written.Two songs that silence anyone who would suggest Rod isn't a great lyricist!

Rod in great form,band in party mood arena sold out and crowd appreciative and responsive....No chance of cooling off from the 30 degree heat at a Rod Stewart concert!

Review Gerard Rafferty
Photo By Marc Baulisch-Steines

© 2019 SMILER Magazine

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