The last time I saw Rod live he played in my back garden at Home Park in Plymouth earlier this year (okay, not quite back garden but close enough!) but for this show it’s a long distance trek ‘oop north’ to Liverpool and as I trundled out of Limestreet station with my new leopard design case I played ‘spot the Rod fan’ and there they were coming from all corners of the station, easily spotted by the obligatory tartan hat or similar attire – and this is days before the gig!
First impression of Echo Arena was a big fat ‘Wow!’ and another wow factor for me was my very dear and one of my closest friends Jill had managed to get tickets so far down near the stage, not great tickets in her opinion as she’s been closer, but definitely best seats I’ve ever had. Put it this way, this is the first of all the Rod gigs I’ve attended and this was my 51st, where I’ve been able to see the whites of his eyes and that of his band without having to look at the big screen!
As we’ve come to expect from Rod shows, the stage setting was hugely elaborate, black and white chequered board décor, massive backdrops which perfectly complement the set list as it proceeds – Sir Rod as we know must now call him, strides out to rapturous cheers and whistling and with the band in place launched straight into Sam Cook’s Having a Party, a perfectly placed upbeat number with beautiful flourishes of saxophone solos that form an essential part now of any Rod show.
With a tour billed From Gasoline Alley to Another Country Hits tour there were certainly a good few hits to choose from and whatever the set list there would be a mixture of elation and disappointment as fans wait expectedly for their favourites.
Thankfully for me it was only elation as the band stomped through the best sing-a-longs that included First Cut is the Deepest, Baby Jane, You’re in My Heart. Maggie May, Sailing and I Don’t Want to Talk About It but and to everyone’s delight as he launched into Rhythm of My Heart the big screens showed him kneeling before Prince William receiving his knighthood, the cheer that went up put one mighty smile on Rod’s face.
An integral part of any Rod show is the kicking out of the footballs, I was ready for mine for surely after 51 shows I was due a ball and heck, I was near enough to the stage. I even had a carrier bag in my pocket in which to take my ball home! But it wasn’t to be, as he sang Stay with Me out they came, he lobbed them up into the stands to the left, up into the stands to the right, but very few came out to the front where they normally head, just my luck, my carrier bag stayed in my pocket. But heck for a 71 year old Knight of the Realm that man’s got a mighty powerful kick on him.
Predictably he leaves Do Ya Think I’m Sexy to the end which was our cut to leave to escape the mass exodus towards the taxis, not a favourite of mine by any means but no gig would be complete without it for sure!
One thing you have to know about a Rod gig is the total lack of pretentiousness, yes he’s the ultimate professional performer and entertainer but while it’s a slick highly polished operation he always manages to keep it real with continual interaction with his audience, pointing, at fans, laughing with his band, cracking jokes, it’s the reason why he’s still selling out arenas around the world and bringing happiness to so many.
Another cracking gig in the bag….but sadly no ball in my bag!
Review By Ellie Hudson
Montage By Tommy Kevitt