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August 14, 2015

The HITS, The HATS, & The SURPRISES

Vegas August 8-9, 2015 Review By Vicky Phillips Marrow

posted by Mike Walton



This adventure began in February, the night before I was leaving on a business trip. During dinner, Steve and I decided that the only dates that would fit our schedules would be the weekend of Aug 8-9. We agreed that if I could not get good seats that we would not go and would wait for hopefully some dates in the fall. So in addition to last minute packing, I made sure I had all the info I would need to purchase tickets. Let me stop here and remind each of you that I do not have a smart phone, but rather a 7+ year old flip phone. I have, however, recently purchased a tablet and have been learning my way around with it. The time that the tickets were going on sale was perfect as my boss and I were going to have to wait in the airport for our colleague’s flight to arrive. Would you believe the next day at the airport I cannot hit the ticket website, I am sweating, cursing, and in a panic!! My boss calmly said do you want me to try on my phone? I said sure, (while thinking I’m sure this is gonna work out well, NOT). BAM! She’s in, and secures Orch 2 BB seats for both nights. Another bonus on this trip, I got to meet in person another friend made thru the mutual interest in Rod and his music, Karen Chande.

In early Spring, we received an email from Mark & Jan from Essex who we met in 2013 during my birthday weekend shows in Vegas. We have kept in touch and they wrote to tell us they would join us in Vegas for the Aug 8-9 shows. How exciting!! (Rod, you have spawned yet another friendship).

The closer it got to the show dates, the more I was so glad that Jane Mellor told me about keeping a little notebook with all my notes of who is going, etc. My 50+ year old brain, especially when I am trying to learn a new job, is being stretched to the limit these days.

During the 3 weeks of recovering from his recent illness, Steve and I were cautiously optimistic we would be able to make the trip. Finally the day arrived and we are on the plane headed to Vegas. After reports of the dud of a crowd on Wednesday Aug 12 coupled with the concern over Steve, I must admit I was not as pumped up for these shows as I have been for all the others we have been fortunate to attend. Friday evening found us having a drink with Mark and Jan who were going on 25 or more hours with no sleep. We chatted nonstop for hours, like we have known each other for ages. We were to meet a number of others who were in Vegas later that evening, but with the combination of the lack of sleep and time zone differences, we were all too knackered and knew we needed to be well rested for Saturday and Sunday, especially since I was determined that Rod and the band would not be subjected to a dud audience THIS weekend.

Steve and I met up with one group of folks on Saturday afternoon, Gabriel, Sharon, Karin, and Susanna and Steve finally got to meet Mike Gregor who I met all the way back in 2001! I swear this is like the extended family I never had, probably better in some respects. We met Jan & Mark for dinner before the show and again talked nonstop, Jan and I remarked that it is amazing how we met and live so far away and have so much in common outside of Rod and his music.

Continued hellos to old and new friends you know who you are, and I received a gift of a kangaroo from Leonie Crowder all the way from Australia, and she has now been HATTED. Initially Ruby Stewart & Alyssa Bonagura “The Sisterhood” performed "One Light" written by Ruby. Ruby told the audience that the song was inspired by her recent trip to Haiti where among other items, solar puff lights were provided to families for their safety because there is no electricity. It was a song with a powerful story and performed with a lot of emotion. Ruby and Alyssa are a good compliment to each other. The confidence that Ruby has built up over the past couple of years, is evidenced by her command of the stage. Ruby also told the audience that her mom and grandfather and other family were in the audience. The Forever Young duet is always a fav of mine, and I was drumming along with David Palmer during the drum solo….. (Drum lessons remain on my bucket list). Penny made her way down front to take photos during these 2 songs. While sitting in front of the bottom step, snapping photos, we noticed security come up to her and we assumed asked her to move…. I guess she convinced him who she was because they then left her alone.

Time for Sweet Little Rock and Roller and the walkabout. Part of the way thru, Rod picks up 3 youngsters and they returned to the stage with Rod and the band…. They are right in front of Steve and me.....I took a close look and realized one is Alistair…. (I don’t know what Rod and Penny are feeding him, but he is growing up fast!) I held up the HAT that I knitted in the colours of The Lion Rampant…The Royal Flag of Scotland. Alistair gave me a huge grin and I pitched THE HAT to him. He stuck it right on his head and wore it proud for a few seconds until his cousin (I believe) nicked it and put it on his head…. I thought, oh dear there is going to be a brawl for THE HAT and then I suddenly remembered I had also smuggled a Celtic one in and quickly tossed it to the other young lad who then returned the Scotland one to Alistair. Both boys looked adorable dancing in them and left the stage wearing them!!! That was a lot of fun for me. The girls performed an exceptional version of “I’m Every Woman”; each one of them looked to be having a great time!

Footballs were kicked out during “Stay with Me” and I haven’t a clue where it rebounded from, but I watch a ball roll on the bottom step of the stage right towards me. I expected a mad dash for it……..nothing happened and as it got within my reach, I simply bent down and picked it up. There were a number of good kicks into the balconies and one was snagged by someone in the 3rd balcony! Way to go Rod!

Random observations……No “funny” videos or photos during this show (and I didn’t miss them). The fellows looked mighty sharp in their dark suits and ties and burgundy shirts. Rod commented early on that we were a great audience (I am sure he finished the sentence in his head with …. “unlike Wednesday night”). Rod and the band were in a happy, high energy mood.

Mike Scully and Jill Facey had to be over the moon to see Rod walk out on stage with the Celtic Flag during “You’re in My Heart and Celtic cowboy hat during “Sexy” that they had delivered. Rod looked to be having a good time with both and was grinning like a Cheshire cat when wearing the cowboy hat. Mike and Jill were grinning pretty big themselves. With that the show was over, and a number of us met up afterwards to recount our versions of the show and catch up on other happenings in each other’s lives. Too soon it was late, my body was telling me that it was still on Eastern Time (3 hours later than Vegas time) and I had to get to bed.



Sunday August 9, 2015

While Steve and I were sitting at a bar eating a late breakfast, a group of people stopped behind us. I turned to look at them and recognized Ruby and her mom. I continued eating and then thought I would go up and say hello (have never met her) and tell her how much we enjoyed her performance last night with Alyssa. So I walked up wearing a shirt from the 1999 In the Round Tour and asked her if she could help me remember the name of the person on my shirt. She grinned really big and said that’s ma dad! Steve then walked up and we also told her that it has been fun to watch her grow as a performer over the years, and how touching the duets with Rod are, and that she is very lucky to be making those memories (my dad died when I was 19). She was very gracious and seemed appreciative that we took the time to tell her this. What a kind hearted soul she is. I also told her I am the knitter of the HATS, she said “really?” they are very nice and the boys have fun with them. She did seem a little shocked it was me; perhaps she expected an older grandmotherly character, not someone who has their hair cut like her dad!

I quickly lost my very small gambling budget for the day, so I people watched for free and decided I was tired and took a nice nap. For those who know me, I rarely have any “down time” so being able to just take a nap is golden.

We went ahead and packed for the trip home so as to not have to do it after the show or in the morning. (Amazing how much more room was in the suitcase after distributing 6 HATS!). As it ended up, 3 went to the Stewart family, one to England, one to Australia and one to Argentina. I still have a list of them to make and it is almost time to make a new batch for the local homeless shelter.

At Sunday’s show there were reunions of old and new faces once again! I swear there is just not enough time to visit and chat with everyone….

The show started on time and we were raring to go! Rod and the band picked up on that quickly and soon into the show Rod said we were a lively crowd for a Sunday night, and asked had we been drinking?! I noticed Rod was sweating early on and so onto the stage I tossed the towel I had my neighbor embroider for him (yes I diversified a bit this weekend), it caught his eye and I almost made him cock up the song, and for this I apologize. He smiled and thanked me and used it a bit to wipe his brow and face. I now want to share the story of the towel.

I had an elderly lady who is a neighbor embroider “Rod’s” in green lettering and a green and white football on it and when I told her it was going to Rod Stewart she kinda smiled and said oh.... I said do you know who that is and she said I am not sure, does he live around here?..... I said no, no, Rod Stewart, the singer....... She looked at me and said "you are lying" and then caught herself, was terribly embarrassed and said in a very small voice, "really?" I said yes, she then was so flustered, and said it will be my best work! She was so cute. I told her I would do my best to get her a photo of Rod holding the towel, we took some but the towel is scrunched up, so if anyone got one where you can see the embroidery I would love for her to have it.

Some more surprises in the set list tonight, Some Guys, Twisting, Broken Dream, and during the acoustical set Rod intros the next song with….. this was a controversial song at the time (not now) about a friend of mine, I looked at Steve and said it’s Georgie. My heart skipped a few beats during the opening chords, and I froze in place taking it all in with tears in my eyes

What a beautiful rendition it was, full of emotion. I could have listened to it more than once. Thank you, Rod.

Well we thought Ruby and Alyssa’s performance was awesome last night, tonight they kicked it up 5 more notches, these ladies are going places!

The atmosphere on stage tonight was one of again high spirits and high energy with a good bit of frivolity and zaniness added in. Everyone’s voice was in top form; again hearing notes hit that sometimes are not attempted.

As “You’re in My Heart” started, Rod walked out wearing one of the nicest, if not the nicest leopard print shirt I have ever seen, with a black shirt under it and well-fitting black jeans. Holy smoke, I will not say any more other than “he wore it quite well” as Rod might read this and I know my husband will. One of the other HATS I made was one depicting the Flag of Scotland, the St. Andrews Cross. Since Rod has been tossed a bazillion Celtic HATS I thought this would be a bit different. He saw it and nodded at the appropriate time for me to toss it to him… He sang the entire song with it in hand while prominently displaying the Scotland patch on the front. As I have said before I am very conscious to tie on the pom-poms very tightly as I would be mortified if one flew off across the stage. I must say the HAT showed up quite well with the leopard shirt as a backdrop. After the paisley jacket and shirt this is my next favorite shirt of recent years.

Footballs tonight during “Hot Legs” and again, many were aimed toward the balcony with a number of scores!

Rod again came out wearing Mike and Jill’s cowboy hat during Sexy and went right over to them and tipped his hat, smiled, and bowed. Then he tied a blue boa around his waist that someone tossed on stage; he had a fun, campy few moments with that. The balloons were insane, they were all over the stage and it seemed to me there were more of the bigger ones. The band and Rod had fun with them, Conrad proved he can easily play a mean bass and head bump balloons at the same time and Kimmi popped one of the enormous ones with her shoe.

All too soon it was over.

In summary, it was GREAT to see old and make new friends this weekend! As I have recently said, this is as dear to me as getting to attend the shows. The 2 shows this weekend are in the top of any I have ever seen. And I FINALLY got to hear Killing of Georgie live, if someone told me that one day I would cry at a Rod Stewart concert I would have told them they were F**KING NUTS. That song touches me to my core, both the music and lyrics.

I have one last funny story to share. This has never happened to me, but my luggage had to be inspected after it went thru x-ray. I could not imagine what they thought they saw, but it seems that the 4 programs I took great care to pack and nestle in the middle of my clothes so they would not get bent showed up as suspicious. The whole time they were tossing my clothes about, I was afraid they were using that as a diversion tactic to nick my football packed in my other bag.

Until next time...................... keep Roddin' and thanks to each of you for being in my life in your own way; you have enriched mine so very much. Steve was very touched by all the care and concern you expressed to him over his recent illness; I was touched too but not surprised by it; we are a fantastic group of people.

Review by Vicky Phillips Marrow
photos by Vicky Phillips Marrow
Montage by Tommy Kevitt



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