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June 13, 2016

A VIP concert experience gifted to me by Rod!

Home Park Plymouth 7th June 2016 Ellie Hudson

posted by Mike Walton

A fan’s story

Over all the decades of following our Rod on his UK tours I love being able to tell people how he’s gigged in my back garden.

Okay that’s something of an ever so slightly exaggerated claim but it’s a fact that from Home Park Stadium in Plymouth I can walk back to my house within minutes and so I do regard this huge beautiful park is an extension to my own garden!

I also like to think the inclusion of Plymouth on his stadium tour , his 2nd visit, the last one being 2009, was a result of my continual trickle of fan letters sent over the years begging him to come to Plymouth – was that a deciding factor? Who knows, but he came up with the goods. Twice!

And more importantly …for this particular gig on Tuesday June 7th… very first VIP ticket was a special gift from Rod!

But wait….hold on…calm down…this isn’t our newly knighted SIR Rod that gifted me the ticket but my older brother of the same name and the significance of this gift does in fact have a rather poignant backstory I’d really like to share with Sir Rod himself and fellow fans.

An honest admission here, It’s fair to say my brother and I have spent a lifetime not seeing eye to eye, the close bond you often see between siblings sadly didn’t exist between us from childhood through to late adulthood, in fact until a few months prior to Rod announcing this tour and tickets going on sale there had been a 17 year hiatus of no contact at all, a huge chunk of my life I missed out on and seeing the family grow with little ones coming into the world and precious years I can’t get back. I have to take responsibility for all of this.

Then last year when our dad passed away and circumstances brought us back together, we made a determined effort to rebuild bridges and resolved to calm the ‘stormy waters to be free…’

But throughout our lives the one constant and common interest we always shared was our mutual respect and admiration for Rod Stewart, stretching right back to The Faces days.

Killing of Georgie stands out in particular as a song that holds hugely significant meaning to both of us, we lost our dear mum in 1976, the year A Night on the Town was released; she was a courageous wonderful woman who’d spent 11 years in a wheelchair following a devastating car accident.

She loved the Killing of Georgie lyrics and in particular the part where Rod sings

“George once said to me and I quote.
He said never wait or hesitate
Get in kid before it’s too late,
You may never get another chance
‘Cos youth’s a mask it won’t last
Live it long and live it fast’

Eleven years a paraplegic unable to do the things she wish she’d done and telling brother Rod and I to get out there and live life to the full, to grab life with both hands, she told us we may never get another chance. I was very late into adulthood before the full impact of this message really hit home although it wasn’t so for my brother, he took these lyrics and made them the blueprint for his life and still quotes them as a sort of mantra to go out and just do it. The most powerful lyrics I can ever remember totally connecting with which become more poignant the older we get.

Then Rod announced this current UK tour, the clouds parted and the sun got its hat on again in my life, brother Rod presented me with my very first VIP ticket.

VIP?! I’d never been able to afford VIP for anything in my life, I’d never even travelled first class on a train, not even on the cheap seat upgrade and now I was going to be a Very Important Person….well this was going to be a first for sure!

I was overjoyed more so that I’d be sharing my first Rod gig with Rod!

Alas the best laid plans can sometimes go tits up and along came the England v Russia game and I’m sure Sir Rod will understand brother Rod’s decision to choose football over music so I roped a friend in to take his place and so it was that at Home Park one Rod was sadly absent!

Thank god it wasn’t the Rod that can sing those hits that still make my heart soar after 40 plus years of being a fan.

As a VIP-er we got to dangle our laminates which released my inner Hyacinth Bucket, I honestly was so excited I felt like screaming ‘the lady of the house is VIP today…..come along Richard!’ (For those not in the know, Google ‘Keeping up Appearances!’)

As VIP we got to dine at tables laid with smart white tablecloths with waiter service bringing us our drinks, no squeezing into long queues like my friends below in the stadium who were sending me texts from their seats telling me that midway through The Sisterhood support act the beer and food was already running out, one friend even asked me to bring out a doggy bag for them and some water, they definitely needed some TLC, never mind VIP.

And so we filtered down the stairs and out into the auditorium to take our seats in the centre block, 17 rows back from the stage, my friends who’d bought much cheaper tickets were further forward in the next block so ticket allocation even going as VIP remains a total mystery to me and is no guarantee of preferential seating. But it was worth it alone for the luxury of a lovely meal and the ability to drink with friends in a more civilised manner without having to join monstrous snaking queues.

We caught the last few songs from duo act The Sisterhood which took me completely by surprise with their country cum folksy sound, made up one part with Rod’s daughter Ruby who has a beautiful voice, I can see these girls being a mainstay on the festival circuit every soon.

And then to a rousing applause Rod takes to the stage!

Two hours of extraordinary showmanship that mixed up the old fan favourite hits with the new material that included Please and I’m hugely impressed he can hit those high notes outside the studio setting.

We watched him effortlessly slide and strut across the stage showing how even at 71 he’s still fit as a fiddle and all the years of playing football has paid off, he puts performers half his age to shame for sheer energy alone.

And there’s no crowd I’ve experienced that can sing to the heavens like a Rod crowd in full choir mode, Rod’s heart must swell with pride when he hears his fans sing back to him word perfectly Maggie May, You’re In My Heart, It’s a Heartache, Tonight’s the Night, Sailing, the latter of which always goes down well in Plymouth, home of the now decommissioned Ark Royal, that saw Rod visit the dockyard in the late 1970’s (and yes, my late dad even got hold of the chair he sat on, referred to at future family picnics as ‘Rod Stewart’s chair!).

The popular You Can’t Stop me Know I must confess made me cry. The backdrop video running on the huge screen behind Rod as he’s singing shows heart tugging photos of him with his beloved dad, the recipient of the lyrics in the song. I caught the eye of his sister Mary sat in the row behind me, a lovely lady I’ve met and chatted to a few times, I wondered how she was feeling seeing her old dad up on the screen; his wife Penny Lancaster who was also sat nearby seeing her father in law. Rod not only fully embraces his family but so do his fans, some I know have followed Sir Rod for so many years they too feel like an extended part of the Stewart family!

Quietly now as I leave this page….let me say

To Sir Rod

Thanks for the music
Thanks for the memories
Thanks for never forgetting your fans
Thanks for the love
Thanks for the concerts
Thanks for being the mega hits man.

And to brother Rod!

Thanks for the love
Thanks for the VIP
Thanks for the guidance
Thanks for forgiving me.

Review and main photos By Ellie Hudson
Montage By Tommy Kevitt

© 2019 SMILER Magazine

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