So here we were gathered around 20 days later than originally anticipated to see the first London edition of Gasoline Alley to Another Country and I’m thinking, Oi Rod aren’t you forgetting something? Forgive me for being finicky, but if you study your discography I think you will find a certain 1969 album has been overlooked here.
Now you have lent your talented daughter Gasoline Alley – this perhaps makes the tour title even more puzzling seeing Rod does not perform any track from the “Alley” album! Maybe let’s put it down to the promoters having blundered (or being too young to realise) - As personally I consider there to be many great tracks on “Raincoat” to simply forget it never happened and who am I to tell Rod to be a Man of constant sorrow for such an oversight, plus here in this Dirty old town, should I really be suggesting he review the wording I wouldn’t ever change a thing? Enough of throwing my “Handbag around”, but I wish I could change the fact that it’s nigh on impossible these days to get a seat that’s real close as we once could – but let’s not go there, we are here and that’s all that matters, the Rod family are as one in good spirits and looking to end the night with a sore throat as well, singing and dancing to the re-scheduled “hits show”.
As I work in toy town across the pond – the O2 is a simple venue for me to get to, but living in “good old “South” London or put it as one would prefer to and refer it as simply – Surrey. You would be a mug if you ever thought to hop on a Downtown train – given its run by the “SS” – “Striking Southern”. So the finest woman that I’ve known (that’s my darling wife if you are having an identity crisis) and my sister in law choose to drive and park at the O2 – the only way to ensure you can get home in less than three quarters of an hour, as for me there is no Uber option … boom, boom …
Our arrival at the O2 was not until around 6:45, simply because we met up with our niece in John Lewis at Canary Wharf for a chat as one does. Plus the fact that yet again my Facebook access won’t work on my phone (oh how I love EE if they think they will retain my business at the end of my contract they are in their own winter wonderland) which hampered my communication powers with the Rod world. Now for anyone attending the February re-schedules – if you happen to see on your ticket your entrance is via G or H – as a health warning, some may need an oxygen mask as you have to circumnavigate around the whole of the auditorium before you re-enter the building!!
Having located our seating arrangement for the evening’s proceedings, I scanned through the tour programme which for the sum of £15, I considered a worthwhile purchase – not much information, mainly just pictures (which Penny gets acclaim for) and a few amusing Rod quotes.
7:30 sharp – on comes Penny with her 3 Loose Women companions – (ladies forgive me, where we were situated at the back I couldn’t tell which ones you were!), Penny makes the introduction for the Sister Hood – Ruby Stewart and Alyssa Bonagura – I had been impressed with the girls in Southampton and was looking forward to seeing them again – sadly they suffered with probably only 20% of the auditorium filled, getting a dancing sing along feedback is never easy under such circumstances – but for me it was all worth being part of as I could certainly listen to them over again.As they broke into their last but one song and asked us all to switch on our “cell phone” (remember they are really American!) torches, all of a sudden would you Ken & Yve it, who should occupy the 4 seats next to us – okay, I will give you a Denise and Sue – it was 4 “Faces” of Smiler notoriety. Of all the seats, in an auditorium of such size – what chance was that? – Suddenly it was enter the “noisy neighbours”!!. - Those not of any London connection – the rhyming slang has been slightly altered to introduce our “soul mates” and ensure that we would still be “Havin’ a Party” even though we were at the back of the O2.The girls completed their set with Gasoline Alley, got a warm response and probably thought, not too many takers on the offer of their “meet and greet” at a part of the O2 that they were not that sure exactly where it was meant to be.
A quick 15 minute turn around with the congregated Smilers exchanging views – plus of course it would not be Yve if it wasn’t for – let’s take time to adjust my cameras to try and focus as best as I can, even from such a distance – There are one or two photo’s I might just be dreading get circulated!!
That Champions league music beats out as the lights dim and the band and all the girls are on stage – enter “The Legend” and we are off – The Party was in swing (well in row P up the back anyway!). I won’t go through the set list – because it’s no different to all the other reviews circulated, but as a twist I will add my “forgotten” hits list below just to show what a talent this man is that he can entertain you for 2 hours and still omit to play all those numbers I list for you – who knows maybe the re-scheduled February concerts might include one or two of them, especially given Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas just does not work at the end of February!!!
Now personally I would say I thought Rod felt it was a little hard work at times getting the crowd into the real party spirit – there were a few empty seats about –possibly because of the new date not being suitable or possibly because of the transport issues in London.That said, you could never fault the man for how he performs – we have all paid for our tickets, if you’re in a “Don’t like Monday’s” mood and want to sit and watch – it’s your choice – the only problem was the people behind us needed to look through our gyrating limbs to do so – because there is no way we will sit down all through a Rod concert. As both Yve and my Alison would show from the off, hence a pair behind, moved seats to some of the empty ones just so they could remain unplugged and seated !!
The performance of the band and the girls was first class as ever – Rod would have a dig at all the artists that mime rather than actually perform to their audiences these days – an interesting little attack which I was not really sure what had driven it. Before Rolling and Tumbling he would reminisce firstly as a tribute to Muddy Waters, saying everyone back then wanted to copy him and Rod’s trips to Eel Pie Island to see groups such as The Rolling Stones, The Animals and The Yardbirds in front of sometimes only a dozen people was the inspiration he needed to be part of the music business – he would say The Yardbirds were brilliant – anyone happen to remember a certain guitarist who was in the Yardbirds? Yeah, no surprise then… After the normal audience participation of You’re In My Heart or maybe it was I Don’t Wanna Talk About It, Rod would comment “You know it was The Faces that started all this crowd singing off, simply because we were all up on stage drunk and couldn’t remember the words” – Which takes me back to another re-scheduled concert on a Monday night, 18th November 1974 in fact and only a few miles from here at Lewisham Odeon – the hoarding mass then crammed at the front waving their scarves tunefully singing Angel – and the conductor in chief up on stage in his glitter staring out to his disciples with that unforgettable grin.Rod had early mentioned The Faces before singing Ooh La La, “A Great Faces number – there are only 3 of us here now, this one’s for Ronnie – as he looked skywards, he would say “God Bless Him”.
All in all another brilliant night that was enhanced somewhat by the random seat allocation that found a few Smilers all in one pod.The two ladies behind us at the end of the event chatted away saying how brilliant they thought it was and asking me “You surely enjoyed it”. Which was greeted with the normal tongue in cheek reply “No it was total rubbish and better improve come February” – As ever, you get the surprised look and response “Are you coming to see him again?” – All I can say to that Ladies is – You obviously don’t know what “Love Is”…
As promised to show what another 2 hours could bring here’s an alternative selection that our Sir Rod has sung in the not too distant past for us that could also easily be slotted into “The alternative hits”.Don’t take it though that these are all favourites of mine – because I would be disappointed to turn up to see Rod and not get any Faces number on his set list.
In order of release (I think) – not as a compiled set list order:-
Reason To Believe,
I’d Rather Go Blind,
Twistin’ The Night Away,
In A Broken Dream,
Sweet Little Rock ‘n Roller,
Killing Of Georgie,
I Was Only Joking,
What Am I Gonna Do,
Every Beat Of My Heart,
Lost In You,
It Takes Two,
Have I Told You Lately
Tom Traubert’s Blues,
Purple Heather (Even we would appreciate it south of the border!),
It’s A Heartache,
She Makes Me Happy,
And I could easily go on ….. Enjoy Glasgow folks, plus those going to Liverpool for the end of tour concert – well it was meant to be ... but now we London folk can look forward to another (Sunday) or in our case Monday night in February for the real end of tour concert celebrations.
Review By Colin Baker
Photos By Yve Paige
Montage By Tommy Kevitt