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June 8, 2019

Rod Rocks Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes Stadium 4/6/19 Review By Dominic Murphy

posted by Mike Walton

Milton Keynes was formed in 1967 around the time Rod was learning his trade and playing to venues up and down the M1. 52 years later Rod and his superb band of musicians arrive at the MK Dons football stadium to put on a breathtaking show for us.

Mrs M and I arrived nice and early to secure a parking spot and made our way to the bar and Carol was pleased when one of the stewards gave her a rain poncho with all brollies confiscated at the gate ( not needed as the sun always shines when Rod is in town.) With swirling bagpipes emanating from the young kilted brigade (in red Stewart tartan) starting up proceedings I knew this was going to be a good one. Cue the excellent Johnny Mac and the faithful who seemed so pleased just to be on the same stage as the legend. This Glaswegian is a morph of Springsteen, Ronnie Lane and Frankie Miller and a very talented singer with a wicked sense of humour. This Celtic band personally endorsed by Rod played some excellent numbers including a cracking version of Dirty old town and Gasoline Alley which went down a storm with the packed stadium.

With the Big Country soundtrack ringing out it was time for the main event and to enormous cheers Rod was here in Black and Gold jacket ( Versace of course) with the trademark mike stand in hand and that unmistakable voice belting out the opener Infatuation. The band in white were looking and sounding slick, professional and cool as always. Rod was in the mood for a good night and promised 23 songs at least and the stage set up on this tour has to be one of the best I have seen since Blondes tour in 1978 with 3 giant video screens and graphics to die for, but it is the quality of the sound that grabs you . Rods voice was crystal clear, strong and powerful and the energy vibes were turned up a few notches with a rousing version of Young Turks and had the crowd going after only two numbers in. Before the next number Rod took time out to thank everyone for coming and praised Johnny Mac ( a fellow Celtic supporter) for his show which was a class touch and as is the norm at Rod concerts you always feel Rod is talking to you on a one to one basis rather than the thousands in the stadium.

You wear it well sounded as good as the day it was recorded ( In 1972 Rod not 1971 mate that was Maggie!] The band were in the groove with Don Kirkpatrick and Emerson Swinford , Jimmy Roberts and the girls note perfect with J’anna Jacoby and her lovely smiling face lighting up the stage as usual.Special mention for Julia Thornton ( Rod’s harpist , percussion player) who is so talented and keeps everything together ….her playing during the acoustic set in particular is sublime.

With an extended and rousing version of Forever Young Rod went off for a wardrobe change and let his brilliant musicians do their stuff…the sound was to die for …it really was. Rod introduced the Killing of Georgie and expressed his displeasure that the BBC had banned this moving and ahead of its time number in 1976 for using the word Gay ..!! Unbelievable in today's world and so pleased this song has found a way back into the live set. Rods voice was pitch perfect on this one.

After Tonight's the Night, Rod paused a moment to tell us that when he wrote the next song his lovely wife Penny ( who was in the audience with Aiden and Alistair) wasn’t even born! Cue for Maggie May and singalong with the lyrics highlighted in large neon graphics above the giant Blood Red Roses stage.

Rod went off or a quick slurp and new polka dot shirt leaving the stage to Emerson and Jimmy Roberts to deliver a dream version of Dires straits Going Home. Mark Knopfler would have saluted these fine musicians. With the stage set for the acoustic set Rod sat down on his own and recounted a story of how he and Ronnie Wood went in to the Olympic studio in London to record I would rather go blind “ Two takes and two bottles of wine” is all it took said Rod as he sang this classic song with such feeling and depth …it was without doubt the highlight of the night . If you need convincing just how good Rods voice is …please just listen to this one song …off the scale and no other singer comes close to this level of perfection not even Elvis.

With the crowd in total awe and a hum reverberating around the stadium Rod reminded us of the enormous debt we all owe to our hero veterans to mark 75th anniversary of the D Day landings and this was duly acknowledged by everyone, with black and white graphics showing us what these brave young men went through so we could be free. Tears were flowing as Rod sang Every beat of my Heart, Rhythm of my Heart and You’re in my heart (with Celtic goals included) and the singalong was turned up another notch with First cut is the Deepest and I Don’t Want to Talk About it . The girl backing singers were brilliant with the harmonies and timing and the beautiful Julia on the giant gold harp stole the show for a moment.

Rod then reflects …this next song was written by the great Van Morrison but “my version is vastly superior" and Have I told you lately was delivered with a warmth and sincerity in such a way that only Rod can do and I agree I may be a bit biased but this song clearly belongs to Rod now.

Afterwards the girls delivered a rousing version of footsteps before Rod came back on stage in white jacket and somewhat nervously introduced a song from Blood Red Roses look in her Eyes which went down extremely well. Thanking you for making me no 1 Rod shouted out !. The Stewart sense of humour was in evidence when Rods shoelace came undone and he shouted out wardrobe assistance required! Hilarious.

The tempo was up and Twistin the Night Away had people dancing in the aisles just like the old days,before Rod called in his loyal band members for a fitting and timeous version of Sailing with obligatory mobile phone camera lights shining everywhere before the falling curtain. Rod wasted no time in raising it again for Baby Jane and just when I thought that was it …Rod then closed with Rollin and Tumblin ….which was a perfect fit as the crowd were buzzing, gracious and totally fulfilled that they had seen a true legend and superstar live.

For me as you all I know I would loved to have heard my number Sweet little Rock n Roller and meeting up with Rod at Nottingham the week before I asked him if he would do it next time. Rod smiled and said maybe Dom, maybe! See you next time Rod, wherever that may be and thank you for all you do for us.

Review By Dominic Murphy (Smiler]
Photos By Dominic Murphy
Montage Tommy kevitt

© 2019 SMILER Magazine

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