30th September 2013
|The Glasgow Hydro|
The briefest glance to your left will show that I first began attending gigs as long ago as 1977. Had anyone said to me back then that I would someday attend a Rod Stewart concert, I would have given them a shocked stare, and then asked for a pint of whatever it was they were drinking.
For although we had all loved Rod’s early singles, and much of his stuff with the Faces was fun (if occasionally shambolic fun), all had changed utterly in 1975. For this was when Mr S had chosen to take the filthy-lucre path to MOR with the appalling shite that was and remains Atlantic Crossing. Never again to be taken seriously by “real” rock afficionados.
But when Brother-in-Law came a-knocking offering free tickets to Stewart’s opening night at the Glasgow Hydro – tickets with Corporate Hospitality thrown in! – well, what could I say? Except "OK".
For this was also the opening night of the Hydro (which Bro-in-Law's employers had helped to construct):
Scotland’s newest music venue. One of those real “I was there” occasions.
The Hydro sits adjacent to the SECC by the River Clyde, indeed as part of the same complex, looking for all the world like some inner-lit spaceship. Inside, the place is utterly massive – the circular seating arrangement more like a football ground than a rock venue – with the towering balcony offering superb sightlines. At least our seats near the front of the balcony did. Quite what those ants sitting up the gods thought of proceedings I cannot say. For they did look FAR away.
Rod was, well….Rod, I suppose. A very professional, very slick, crowd pleasing display. I was a touch surprised at how much of the set relied on cover versions; clearly he is a chap who owned a quality record collection in his teens.
Generally the covers were excellent, although his take on Van Morrison’s Have I Told You Lately was a bit of a train smash. Crappy crowd-pleasers such as You’re in My Heart, Rhythm of My Heart and (the ever-so-slightly pervy) Tonight’s The Night were trotted out with, regretfully, no place for Handbags and Gladrags, Mandolin Wind, Pool Hall Richard or indeed any Faces tunes.
Anyone who has shifted as many records as RS has, and can still fill out a 13,000 venue four times in the same week is pretty much above any criticism I can make. Not that that is going to stop me of course.
For, annoyingly, no matter the song, each was approached with the same bouncy, matey bonhomie. You Wear It Well and The Killing of Georgie (both compositions brimming with pathos) were given bouncy, light-hearted treatments, Stewart grinning like an oaf at inappropriate points during the performance of each. Perhaps he has been singing these tunes for so long, the reason for writing them in the first place has long since been lost to him.
And Maggie May – arguably the man’s finest hour – was turned into a Gumby-esque terracing chant. Now I can live with folks singing along to the song, it is a great sing-along after all, but Rod seemed content to let the crowd do most of the work. Not quite what I had forked out £70 to hear – except of course, I hadn’t.
And when he started on that appalling dirge Sailing, both Wife and I knew it was time take our leave.
This Old Heart of Mine
You Wear It Well
Twistin’ The Night Away
Tonight’s The Night
Sweet Little Rock’n’Roller
Rhythm of My Heart
Just One More Day (Ruby Stewart)
First Cut is The Deepest
I Don’t Want To Talk About It
Have I Told You Lately
Can’t Stop Me Now
She Makes Me Happy
The Killing of Georgie
Soul Man (Backing singers as Soul Girl)
You’re In My Heart
Da Ya Think I’m Sexy
Auld Lang Syne