Rod Stewart, 77, struggled to be eternally young Friday at the Xcel Energy Center – Twin Cities
In a Forbes interview last month, the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Rod Stewart said he expects to stop playing his rock hits live by the end of next year and turn his focus to standards and swing music. “I do not want to sing ‘Hot Legs’ when I’m 80,” he said.
Stewart’s concert Friday at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center suggested he might not be singing “Hot Legs” when he’s 77, either.
His performance proved once again that Stewart’s famous raspy voice – considered one of rock music’s finest – has lost much of its power. Stewart struggled to strike a chord, especially in his more optimistic songs such as “Young Turks”, and let the crowd of around 8,500 sing choruses back to him.
Stewart opened with a cover of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” complete with a band of women posed as those in Palmer’s memorable music video. These women proved to be a surprisingly large part of the show and served as a crucial crutch for Stewart through strong backing vocals and a series of musical interludes between the songs that gave Stewart the chance to catch his breath. They even plowed through the covers of Blondie’s “Call Me” and Donna Summers “Hot Stuff” without help from Stewart.
The audience wanted a warm welcome to Stewart’s biggest hits (“Maggie May”, “Forever Young”, “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy”) as well as the “acoustic” set in the second hour which included drums, keyboards, horns, strings, guitar, upright bass and a harp. He made his own “The Killing of Georgie” (Part I and II), “Curtis Mayfield” “People Get Ready” and Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately”. The audience joined Stewart for his nostalgic / romantic hits “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)” and “You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim).”
Throughout the show, Stewart kept a smile on his face, chatted lovingly with the audience, kicked football during “Hot Legs” and offered some dance moves reminiscent of a drunken grandfather at a wedding reception. And although his vocals did not impress, he did. sounds better on Friday than he did on his last show on X in 2018, when he often gasped for air.
One great thing about Stewart is that he chooses fantastic opening acts like Stevie Nicks, Santana and Cyndi Lauper. On Friday night, the Illinois rockers Cheap Trick warmed up the stage with a solid hour-long set that mixed lesser-known songs, a fun version of the Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” and their still strong hits “Surrender”, “Dream Police” and the epic “I Want You to Want Me ». Lead singer Robin Zander (69) sounded fantastic, and the 73-year-old guitarist Rick Nielsen moaned on a series of multi-necked six-strings.