ROD STEWART – Britain’s Favorite Showman Rocks The Masses In Hollywood, FL

February 21, 2023, a year ago

Words by Jonathan Smith | Photos by Joel Barrios

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With more than 60 years in the music business and approaching 80 years on this earth, Rod Stewart is a name that has become synonymous with elite. From humble beginnings as a street performer with a harmonica in hand to a successful vocalist that joined forces with the likes of The Jeff Beck Group, Shotgun Express and Steampacket, Rod the Mod has tackled just about every style under the sun and amassed a worldwide album sales tally in excess of 250 million records, not to mention entering the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1994 for his solo work. All of the aforementioned honors in tow and being knighted, it would seem that this 78 year old veteran of the craft has surmounted every mountain in his path, but that same hunger that originally propelled him to greatness has remained on display with each performance that he come and gone in recent years, a fact that the attendees of the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida would be reminded of via a duo of concert extravaganzas on February 13 and 14, 2023.

Entering the stage to the blaring pipes of “Scotland The Brave”, a fitting tribute to his Scottish ancestry, Sir Stewart would mark this occasion by defying his advanced years at every turn both vocally and visually. With his massive array of support musicians and a stage setup that would rival any headliner in Vegas, the set that would ensue at the stroke of 8 PM embodied classic from start to finish. Much of the marathon, 19 song slough that culminated the evening would consist of familiar cover songs that Stewart had taken ownership of at varying points between his early days as a ‘70s rock icon up until the present, with standout performances on Cat Stevens’ acoustic folk romp “The First Cut Is The Deepest” and the gritty rocking edge of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” seeing this elder statesman of the genre sporting his signature raspy voice in top form. Smooth balladry courtesy Bonnie Tyler’s “It’s A Heartache” and Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately” also garnered a spellbound response from the capacity crowd, with a pair of hot numbers by Stewart’s troupe of backing vocalists in “I’m Every Woman” and “Lady Marmalade” kept things cooking while the elder front man exited the stage for a couple of brief respites.

Nevertheless, Rod’s status as a songwriter was not one to be glossed over in favor of an evening paying homage to his various contemporaries, and the proverbial house would be brought down on numerous occasions via his own signature compositions. The poignant ode to coming of age that scored him a mega hit in the ‘80s heyday of music videos “Forever Young” would see one of the more heartfelt showings by Sir Stewart, though his backing singers would handle much of the higher register in light of the song’s high exposed nature. The energy factor would be kicked into overdrive with the up tempo rocker and signature banger “Young Turks”, while a Led Zeppelin-like sense of old school rocking mystique would rule the roost when Rod’s early work with Faces was tapped via “Ooh La La”. But it would be the bluesy rocking swagger of “Hot Legs” that would receive the most raucous response from the audience, as Stewart managed to conjure up a performance almost as powerful as the one graced his original late ‘70s take on rocking the house.

To state that the throngs of locals and out-of-towners that flocked to South Florida were witness to a spectacle of miraculous proportions would be putting it plainly, as an icon that goes back as far as The Rolling Stones was still moving and grooving like a rocker still in his prime. Though the pair of evenings at the Hard Rock Live would be a veritable time machine back to the bygone days when Sir Stewart was still codifying his craft, the level of passion and pizzazz that carried both days betrayed an artist that is still an active force in the studio, in contrast to many of his peers. True to his roots as a member of several noteworthy British rock bands, he proved as effective of a collaborator as he did the leading attraction, offering numerous opportunities for his vast array of backing musicians to shine in their own right. The years in the rearview may far outnumber the ones to come, but if his latest concert exploits are any indication, Rod The Mod still has many an occasion to light up the stage still ahead.

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