Rod Stewart – Live Review – Leeds Arena
By @Steve Crabtree, December 2019
He somehow keeps on going and going and going. Sir Rod Stewart is still a showman and performer of the highest possible calibre. And as one of my favourite live and recording acts, I was made up to see him return to Leeds Arena, as part of his UK winter tour.
Unsurprisingly, the concert was a sell-out. Thousands were packed in to the place, and we’d already enjoyed a brilliant warm up from his regular support act Johnny Mac and the Faithfuls. But it was when the band cranked up ‘Some Guys Have All The Luck’ to open Rod’s set that the night really took hold.
“Blasted out around the place”
Second song on the list was ‘We’re Having A Party’. Quite apt, as that’s what pretty much happened for the next two and a half hours. We were set for 20 songs, and Rod Stewart looked the part.
He didn’t like his pants though. Part of an outfit, he still did that strut, but he wasn’t happy. And he told us so. Cue an early change in to a pair of black jeans. (I love incidental things like that at a gig.)
And it was like we were having a greatest hits kind of night. ‘Rhythm Of My Heart’ sounded amazing, and ‘Young Turks’ blasted out around the place with all this energy coming out of this youthful 74-year-old. His song about the murder of his friend in the 70s was emotional, as ‘The Killing Of Georgie (Part I and II)’ took us to a deeper side of things. And ‘Downtown Train’ was another one that we all loved.
“He’s still got everything he ever had”
Sir Rod never changes. For his age, he’s still got everything he ever had. The voice. The moves. The wit. The showmanship. And the ladies flanking him on backing vocals and instruments. He’s got a band who’ve been a staple part of his touring show for a number of years now, and they do more then their bit with an unwavering, incredible sound that brings Rod Stewart’s records in to a live show superbly.
As per his standard, Rod Stewart treated us to a sat down acoustic set halfway through the show. ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’ got the audience involved, and I loved his seated rendition of ‘Have I Told You Lately’.
As for back drop, the AV for this gig… you couldn’t fail to be wowed. Crystal clear, sharp and eye-catching – hundreds of thousands of pounds will have gone in to this. Add the amazing artwork, animations, and live footage entwined in it all – it just added to a fantastic show.
The stools went away, and the party returned. Big hitters ‘Baby Jane’ and ‘Maggie May’ had everyone bar none on their feet. And the show was just flying by. Far too quickly.
“He’s in our heart, he’s in our soul”
As he broke in to ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’, the arena turned in to a sea of multi-coloured balloons of differing sizes, and the place looked amazing. It was a fitting way to start bringing the party to an end, and all of us lucky enough to be close to the front enjoyed a game of volleyball while trying to remember there was a show going on!
As the show ended he couldn’t possibly leave Leeds without ‘Sailing’. When he returned for his encore – that’s the single song he gave us. And it sounded as beautiful as it ever did.
I often think Rod Stewart can’t go on much longer, but every time I see him play, I know he’s got years left in him. He’s in our heart, he’s in our soul. You know he enjoys his concerts as much as his fans, and we’ll be looking out for his next tour of the country, which I hope is soon.