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August 30, 2016

Best Birthday Ever

Review of Vegas Shows Aug. 20 & 21, 2016 By Karen Chande

posted by Mike Walton

August 20

In March when the dates were announced for the next Vegas shows, it was a no-brainer which ones I would attend as I was so excited to see that the Saturday of the final weekend fell on my birthday. The excitement was twofold as not only was Vegas my favorite place to see Rod, but two years ago I was headed on a four-hour drive to Jones Beach, NY to see him on my birthday when my car died on the way and I never made it to the show. On this run, I had also gotten a ticket to the Aug. 17 show which wound up being cancelled because Rod had a sinus infection and was under doctors order to rest his vocals. It was encouraging to read that the shows would continue on Saturday, the 20th. Thankfully, Rod was well enough to perform that night as I'd had a hope and plan. I'd upgraded my seat to front row and had a poster made to see if I could get a birthday picture with him.

On show night, there was nothing quite like it to take a seat in front row center and it was fun to have friends come up and sit beside me for awhile to chat and other friends who happened to also be sitting right beside or near me. There was a new white curtain now to replace the one that had been there for so long with the back of Rod's head and "Some Guys Have All The Luck" written on it. When the curtain rose, as many of us already knew, the checkerboard pattern was everywhere, the floor, the drums faces, the keyboard and even Rod's microphone stand. There was a new back-up singer in Lucy's spot as the band began with Soul Finger and then the ladies introduced "Sir Rod Stewart!" as he came out to Having A Party. During this song, I held up a sign to let him know I was spending my birthday with him. He blew me a kiss, bowed and blew a second kiss. Some Guys Have All the Luck was next, and then Rod welcomed the crowd saying it was the 127th show at Caesar's. He said we would be here for 90 minutes and they want us out there spending our money so let's not waste anymore time, let's do it. The next song was Tonight's The Night. I'd made a poster saying "A Knight On The Town" with "Knight" in the colors of the British flag and a picture of said album cover the song was from that I held up at the end when the audience is reflected on the big screen. I made sure Rod saw it as well from the stage and he mouthed, "that's me!" I like the way this song now ends, rather than the abrupt ending after the audience sings, it now continues to sound just as it does on the record.

To introduce the next song, Rod says 127 shows and he never gets tired of singing this one, then says he never gets tired of singing any of them, and the song is You Wear It Well. Next was Rhythm of My Heart and after that, Rod mentioned about how he had to cancel the show on Wednesday, for those of us who are here when he was not there Wednesday, he was on antibiotics for his bronchitis and was sweating "me bollocks" and the doctor said he would be sweating a lot tonight but that he's here and that's great. The crowd applauded, someone saying they were glad he was here (and believe me, so was I!!). He then introduced the next song about his father who died in 1990, he was a Scotsman from Edinburgh and his support of Rod during the bad times, especially in the music business when the record companies didn't like his hair, his nose or his clothes, then he said come to think of it, they didn't like his voice either, but it all turned out nicely in the end. He says to look up on the big screen and we'd see a 19-year old Rod Stewart as Can't Stop Me Now begins. Next, Rod holds up his beverage to wish us a Merry Christmas if he doesn't see us before then and says "And may you stay Forever Young" as the song begins. Rod leaves for costume change as the violin and drumming solos continue. Rod then returns to acknowledge Dave Palmer and Matt O'Connor on the drums, having them come down to take a bow, then acknowledges J'Anna and with a little hesitation on Annie's name he says the antibiotics are making his mind go. Next he says here's an old Motown one for us and it's This Old Heart Of Mine.

Now, it's time for Downtown Train and this is the song I was best thinking to show Rod my sign as he comes down to sit on the steps. But alas, he sits down on the steps to my right, while I am more to the left. He then gets up and comes down the steps to shake hands with audience members. I heard him say that he was going "over there" and he left the area he was in and walked right past me to shake hands with audience members now to my left. From what I heard afterward as I didn't see what was going on behind me is that there was a man in the audience who was acting strange, like he was on drugs and took off his shirt, and that's when Rod went to the other side to get away from him. Apparently, the man followed Rod to the other side. In order to again get away from him, Rod came back towards the center, right where I was standing and I then showed him my sign. I'll never forget the unbelievable joy I felt when he motioned to me to come up! I handed my camera to a friend, dropped the sign on the floor and carefully climbed over the red velvet rope to head up the steps. Rod then pointed down at the sign I'd left on the floor to say bring it up. It was handed to me by friends and as I climbed up the steps where Rod was now sitting, he held onto it and looked at it. At last, my dream come true as I sat down beside him, we held the sign together, I put my arm around him and looked out to the audience, a sea of cameras pointing at us, so unbelievable to be sitting right there beside him, I couldn't help but to give him a quick kiss as thanks! Soon, other fans started joining us onstage, including friends who had come to see Rod all the way from Australia, who gave him a kangaroo holding the Aussie flag, and Jill who came over with her cane to join in. I felt happy that others had been able to enjoy the fun, too. We ladies were well-behaved as we sang with him and at the designated point in the song, Rod was able to get up the way he's done before by laying back and bringing his legs up over us to continue the song, holding the kangaroo as he walked over to the backup singers, handed the kangaroo to Di, and fluffed the top of each of their heads before leaving the stage as Jimmy continued with the saxophone solo.

When Rod returned, he mentioned about Jill who had come over to join in with her cane and he wanted her to come up on the stage so her husband Mike could take a picture of her with him. Rod is so absolutely wonderful to his fans! He mentioned about the cowboy hats Mike makes for him and Mike was able to give him a new one with Sir Rod on it. Jill got a wonderful picture with Rod and a kiss from him!

It was then time for the acoustic set, starting with You're In My Heart. A soccer ball design cap appeared on the stage which Cassie, the new back-up singer held up in the air and placed on her head. I later learned this was from Vicky! We all held up our Celtic flags during the song. Next was First Cut Is The Deepest, Ooh La La and Have I Told You Lately. After the acoustic set, the chairs were removed as Di and the ladies took over with the upbeat Young Hearts. When Rod returned wearing black pants and a black shirt, Maggie May begins. Hot Legs is next as Rod kicks out footballs to the crowd. When the song finished, the curtain came down, then up again as Rod and the band members lay on the floor pretending to be dead. The curtain came down and up again as Do You Think I'm Sexy began. During the song, Rod waved two women to come up on the stage. They came up holding a large $100 bill that said, "In Rod We Trust" with his picture on it. Clever idea! It's always fun to see what creative things the fans come up with!

August 21

The show opened a little differently tonight as Rod likes to trick us sometimes by entering the stage from the opposite side as he did tonight entering from the Section 6 side after being introduced by the ladies, of which they were one short tonight as the new backup singer was missing. After Having A Party was Some Guys Have All The Luck, and as he headed in the section I was in, I had the ladies next to me hold up a sign with me that I'd made saying "Congrats Sir Rod" with British flags and the medal on it so we could all congratulate him. After the song, Rod welcomed the crowd, by first making note of all the Celtic supporters he saw standing in Section 2. He asked if everyone was here who was supposed to be here, to which the crowd applauded, then said is there anyone who is here who shouldn't be here, to which the crowd said, "Nooo!", and then he asked if everyone has had a drink, to which the crowd cheered. He said he couldn't believe this was a Sunday night crowd, that usually they are asleep, but we are standing, and he made mention that this was the last show and told us do not sit down as Tonight's The Night began.

After that, Rod said for those who hadn't seen him before, we were one short on the back-up singers. Cassie, who was taking over for Lucy, was sick. He asked if there were any Brits in the audience to which there was much cheering and said the next song was from 1972 as You Wear It Well begins. Next, Rod told the crowd he won't be here again till next year, saying it's always such a great pleasure playing here, it's a great theater with great seats even in the back, good views, great acoustics. Then he said he was dedicating this next one to his father Bob Stewart, he died in 1990, he was a Scotsman from Edinburgh, in the early days of his career he was a huge failure, the record companies didn't like his hair, his nose (some in the audience said, "I love your nose!") or his clothes, they didn't even like his voice but he managed to get through, thanks to his dad. He said to keep our eyes on the screen, we'd be seeing an 18-year old Rod Stewart, then says that his children are here tonight so he has to watch his language, Aiden, and for a second forgets Alastair's name as everyone laughs. Then Can't Stop Me Now begins. When he came to my side and was in front of me smiling and playing with his microphone, I tried to thank him for last night but he said he couldn't hear, pointing to the earpieces. After the show, I had the thought he might not be able to hear but he can read and I will take care of this in Atlantic City!

Next, Rod asks how it's sounding down here and how it's sounding up there as the crowd cheers and applauds. He says the next song is one he dedicates every night to our fallen soldiers, not just our fallen soldiers but those who are still serving as we are enjoying ourselves, that the song was written by Mark Jordan, he wrote this about the Vietnam War but it's really about every war, it's an anti-war song, that war is the worst word in the dictionary. Then as Rhythm of My Heart begins, he shouts, "Cheer up!" The next song was Forever Young, and as Rod left for a costume change, Chuck was so funny getting up from behind the keyboard and doing a little jig as the ladies were doing down on the stage floor. Rod returns with very nicely fluffed hair, tight black pants and white shirt to finish off the song, loving when the audience joins in at the end singing out "Forever Young!" He then gives recognition to Dave Palmer and Matt O'Connor on drums, then to J'Anna and Annie on violins. He said what should we do next, and then says it's sad this is the last night, and again mentions we're one person short on the back-up singers, but are we in a good mood, "Yes!" He said the next one was an old Motown song as This Old Heart of Mine begins.

Rod then asks what's the next song, as Downtown Train begins. This time, he walks over to the Section 6 side to start singing in front of the audience there and after a few words of the song, he stops and says the "F" word that he forgot the words, so funny!! He walks back to center where the teleprompter is and the song starts over, with cheers from the crowd as he eventually heads out into the audience from Section 2. I am thinking, whew! so glad last night happened the way it did down the front steps because the Downtown Train is taking a different route tonight !! I love that Rod goes out into the crowd for audience members to have an up close and personal with him as he shakes hands. He acquired a leopard print scarf which he tucked into his pants when he returned to the stage. He then exited as Jimmy continued with the saxophone.

When Rod returns for the acoustic set, he sits down in the chair and says he said a bad word earlier, his two sons are in the audience, that he said a foul word, Daddy got carried away and he doesn't want to hear them saying that. Rod next said we're one chair short, the three chairs were still up there even though there were only two backup singers, and that they were going to do an unusual thing and have an audience member come up to sit in the chair. Vicky came up to sit in the chair as Rod jovially says don't mess about, you have to behave yourself, don't try to sing, don't fart or do anything like that, just enjoy the evening. Rod says this next song was Celtic as You're In My Heart begins. Vicky did a great job sitting in the middle chair between Bridget and Di, swaying along to the music with them! Next, Rod said he wanted someone to come up who wasn't wearing a Celtic shirt and he asked the lady, Pam, with the white shorts to come up. There was some confusion as Cara came up and Rod says not you darling, you're wearing a Celtic shirt, and Pam sat down in the chair. Before First Cut starts, Rod tells the crowd he is now a knight of the empire and proudly says, "Sir Roderick David Stewart", then says "Nothing's changed", lol ! Bless him! As Pam gets out of the chair, Rod tells the crowd that it is her 50th birthday. Great fun spending our birthdays with Rod! Next Rod calls a lady in a white dress to come up and sit in the chair, introducing the next song written by his friend Ronnie Lane who is now up there as Ooh La La begins. It was fun at the end of the song as they all got up out of the chairs to dance and sing along to the song. All the ladies did a fantastic job sitting in as the backup singer! Rod then said he thinks he'll now be the girl in the middle as he takes the seat himself between Di and Bridget for Have I Told You Lately. It was funny how Di was showing him how he's suppose to cross his legs!

After the acoustic set, Di and the ladies took over with Young Hearts. When Rod returns afterward, he introduces the next song, saying it's very important a young artist like himself - to which the audience laughs - pay tribute to where he got his inspiration from. He says he mostly listened to black singers like Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Muddy Waters. He asks if we've seen a film called Cadillac Records and says it's one of the best rock 'n roll films ever made. He says this next song was originally recorded by Muddy Waters, it's been recorded by Eric Clapton, the Animals and a few other and that his version is a thousand times better than theirs, which bring laughter from the crowd. He says "Muddy Waters, Rollin' and Tumblin'." This is a crowd favorite as not only is it a great song but Rod really gets into it! Maggie May is next and then Hot Legs for the football disbursement to the audience. Afterward, as last night, the curtain comes down and then back up as the audience pretends to be dead, and comes down again and back up for Do You Think I'm Sexy. Rod acquires several Celtic scarves, one hanging from his pants and another around his neck. He gets down on the floor to sign something for someone over in Section 2 during the song. This last show was fantastic as we all stood along the stage for most of the show and no one telling us to sit down. This was my 11th trip to Vegas to see Rod and the best one ever! Thank you so much to Rod for making it also my best birthday ever!!

Review By Karen Chande
Photos By Karen Chande
Montage By Tommy Kevitt

© 2019 SMILER Magazine

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