A week ago I was all ready to meet up with everyone at the pre gig get together then my Mother (they live in Gt. Yarmouth) rang saying she had seen about the concert in the local paper and were we going to see them before the show as the fish pond needed sorting?! I woke up in the morning feeling terrible – aching, migraine and bad stomach but even so we found ourselves sorting through sludge, snails and frogs all afternoon! Not the best preparation but it is one the few pleasures my wheelchair bound Dad gets so worth it just to see his face.
So after a quick shower we set off, found a car park at County Hall and arrived at the stadium around six.We soon realised this wasn’t the normal arena venue, where staff seem so miserable, when as we were looking at our tickets to see which entrance we needed, a lovely Norfolk man asked if we needed help and then proceeded to escort half way round the stadium right up to the gate! Even the girl looking into our bag was chatty!
We found our seats and I stood waiting to see if any of the Smiler crowd turned up on our side of the seating plan. I did see the usual suspects taking their places right in the middle and at the front (how do they get a block all together?)I did see Dom in the distance but no-one else. It was nice to ‘people watch’ though and did get a smile from Penny as she walked past!
A Mexican group came on complete with sombreros and entertained(?) as the ground was filling up (I will never listen to Oasis’s Wonderwall the same way again!). Then Penny was on stage introducing Sisterhood with Ruby Stewart – pleasant enough and their cover of Gasoline Alley was well received. She had a good stage presence (learned from the best!) and loved her Californian drawl – so different from her Dad’s ‘cor blimey’ accent!
When they ended all the sheets covering the instruments were pulled off, the stage swept and, before long, the band were on stage performing ‘Soul Finger’ and then, after an introduction from the backing girls, there he was!!!
‘Having A Party’ opened and although I prefer something like ‘Infatuation’ or ‘Tonight I’m Yours’ to set the evening it does seem appropriate as that is exactly what a Rod concert is! Next came ‘Some Guys’ which, to me, is THE one song he could drop but everyone else seemed to enjoy it so what do I know!
The first singalong – ‘Tonight’s The Night’ followed – the crowd got right into it and when he stopped the band, he seemed to acknowledge the enthusiasm and that he was back home!
Then came ‘Love Is’ with J’Anna and the new girl Annie taking the spotlight and then the highlight for me – 'Angel’. I couldn’t get to Hyde Park last year so to see him singing this word perfectly in front of me after so many years was a real treat especially followed by ‘You Wear It Well’ – it was like I had been transported back to the seventies!
‘Can’t Stop Me Now’ was next highlighted by Rod turning round at the end acknowledging the picture of his Dad – nice touch. ‘Forever Young’ was next which wouldn’t normally be a particular high spot but tonight took on a special poignancy when Rod paid tribute to the great Muhammed Ali, who had passed away earlier in the day.
Rod then sat on the step at the front to sing ‘Downtown Train’ beautifully which ended in a superb Jimmy Roberts solo. I love this man and, while it is a shame Katya has left it does mean he doesn’t have to share the spotlight any more. The concentration and effort on his face was there on the big screen for all to see. A brilliant ‘Stay With Me’ with the obligatory footballs kicked out followed before the first half ended with another surprise - ‘Please’. He certainly put a lot of effort into the ‘high’ parts and it was great to hear live!
After a short break they all returned and started with ‘Rhythm Of My Heart’ before a superb Maggie May.The crowd all joined in and he seemed to enjoy it so much when it had apparently ended he started it again and I saw J’Anna look as if to say ‘What is he doing?’ before they picked it up and finished it again – as he said at the end ‘God I love that song!’
The chairs then came out for the acoustic set and he told the crowd to sit on their chairs – well that lasted about two minutes! The crowd participation on ‘You’re In My Heart’, ‘First Cut Is The Deepest’ and ’I Don’t Want To Talk About It’ was amazing as were the solo spots from J’Anna, Jimmy and Julia Thornton on harp. He finished the set with a tribute to Ronnie Lane and ‘Ooh La La’
Rod then left the stage and the girls took over for ‘Superstition’ before the stage went black with one spotlight as he returned for a magnificent ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ with a great (but not as good as Woody!) guitar solo. The momentum increased for ‘Baby Jane’ and then more footballs for ‘Hot Legs’ (no I still haven’t caught one!).
The famous ‘Sailing’ intro then started up which turned into another highlight as the crowd sang their hearts out and the lights on the phones shone out from all the stands taking the whole atmosphere to another level – you really had to be there!
The concert then ended strangely as I expected the band to leave to return for ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’ but they went straight into it - were we going to get another song? But no, Rod thanked us, they left the stage and then an impressive firework display started and then the floodlights came on. I can only presume there was a local curfew and he wanted to end on the fireworks.
So, summing up, a great show – although I would have loved to see ‘Rolling And Tumbling’ and ‘Losing You’ included. He was in good humour, wishing good luck to Norwich City F.C for next season and taking the mickey out of Delia (a football joke!). He certainly looked in good nick putting me to shame as I struggled up the hill to the car park afterwards!
People complain of the Vegas style but in my opinion it is still a fantastic two hour piece of entertainment – yes he paces himself nowadays but I am just glad he is still doing it and he is selling out arena after arena!
My only beef is the ’prawn sandwich’ brigade – as I wrote on the message board but I will repeat it here. As we left we were behind a couple – him wearing a suit and tie, her wearing a sparkly cocktail dress who stood out like a sore thumb amongst Rod t shirts, Celtic colours and tartan. I was listening and the conversation went like this –
Her – nice meal wasn’t it and great seats too
Him – yes and I thought it was nice that he sang one from the standards album, you know the Etta James one
Her – yes but my favourite is Sail Away!
We then watched as we waited for an hour in the car park as they got into their Range Rover. Drove over a grass verge and pushed into the queue – I KNOW WHO I
WOULD RATHER BE!
Ps I hope I got the song order correct
Review and Photos By Dave Edwards
Montage By Tommy Kevitt