In the Antwerp Sportpaleis Rod Stewart entertained his Belgian fans with a hit show, which often became a singalong fest.
It was about eight years since Rod Stewart had last passed in the country. However, it was forty years since his most creative period: in the early seventies he acted as a ‘wild boy’ with The Faces, built a solo-career as an excellent white soul man in which he scored world hit upon world hit.
Stewart came to Antwerp as part of a new tour that had started in Las Vegas, and that was quite visible. White, silver and gold were the dominant colors in the slick decor. Multiple video screens projected old pictures of great albums, of the young Rod and his children. There were balloons at the end, and the audience enjoyed lots of sing-along hits.
His voice wasn’t on a par with the old days however, and especially in the rougher parts Stewart couldn’t reach the higher notes and neither did he find the energy to match the louder guitar parts. However, as an old fox he knows the tricks: three sexy singers provided soulful background vocals, and while performing 'Hot Legs’ the Scotsman enthusiastically started shooting autographed footballs into the raptured audience. Celtic Glasgow had just become Scotlands champion, he announced proudly.
The best part took part somewhere in the middle of the concert, shortly after the break. All musicians grabbed some acoustic instrument and in the warm atmosphere, complete with harp and strings, everybody passionately sang along with "The first cut is the deepest ',' I don’t wanna talk about it" and "You're in my heart.” Vocally Stewart did not have to force his voice, and everything fitted.
In the rougher work it all seemed a bit harder. The man’s engine seemed light-weight, the dance moves eyed somewhat stiff, routine took the lead. We were happy with old songs like "You wear it well “and "Maggie May” and even Muddy Waters "Rollin 'and Tumblin", but to bring such powerful rocksongs you need more vocal force than the 71-year old Rod Stewart seems to have.
Bagpipes and kilts
Though he looked particularly well-preserved, there are no miracles for veteran pop singers. We would kindly advise him to drop Jimi Hendrix’ ‘Angel’ from the list en to put ‘O la la’ back onto it.
Still, the bagpipes and kilts which occasionally played a part, were amusing enough, just like the inflammatory intro’s into two parts: before the concert we got the blaring football anthem 'The Final’ by Gianni Roma and after the break the whiskey song "Loch Lomond" by Runrig warming up the souls. Compliments also to the excellent soul compilation which preceded the concert.
Towards the end more and more hits got pumped into the evening, which ended with 'Sailing’ and got an encore with the unavoidable "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy”: a cheerful party with a balloon-shower from above. Everyone happy, and a little after half past ten people could go home or attend the nearby Sinksenfoor, Antwerps annual spring fair.
Thanks to Peter Vantyghem who translated this review for SMILER, from his review in the ds De standard
Peter Vantyghem is culture editor at The Standard
Photo Koen Bauters