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Concert Reviews:
Rod Stewart wears elder status well at DTE

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Wednesday, August 2, 2017

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- "You will not be disappointed!" Rod Stewart promised fans near the start of his concert Tuesday night, Aug. 1, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

And he was spot-on about that.

The 72-year-old British rock icon is a textbook case in how to age gracefully in rock 'n' roll. Tuesday's nearly two-hour performance was a showcase in genial, crowd-pleasing high-energy as Stewart and his facile 13-piece band romped through 18 favorites from his lengthy career, interspersed with rest points so deftly executed his occasional absence from the stage (about every 25 minutes or so to change outfits) was barely noticed. His voice still strong and his attitude gently self-deprecating, Stewart -- who changed outfits four times during the night, but only wearing socks for one -- made being age-appropriate look contemporary cool.

It helped, of course, that Stewart had a batch of songs so well-loved and an audience that so loves to sing them that he could stop at any time with confidence that the DTE crowd would be singing along, loudly, from the front row to the top of the lawn. Even the lone "new" song, -- "Love Is," a Celtic-flavored rocker from 2015's "Another Country" album, was so of a piece with the rest of the repertoire that the fans probably would have treated it as another hit if Stewart didn't make a point of noting that it didn't do very well (he used more explicit description) as a single in the U.S.

The rest of the night was nothing less than a well-delivered hit parade, played on a checkered-themed tri-level stage with layered video screens blending live footage with images from Stewart's past -- including photos of his Faces bandmates during "Ooh La La" and his knighting by Prince William during "Rhythm Of My Heart." After the band worked through the Bar-Kays' "Soul Finger," Stewart ripped through "Infatuation" and "Some Guys Have All The Luck" before bringing opener Cyndi Lauper on to duet on the Isley Brothers' "this Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)." The anthemic "Forever Young" was bisected with a lengthy section of band solos that included some Irish dancing by Stewart's backup singers, while Julia Thornton's harp highlighted "The First Cut Is The Deepest," part of an extended acoustic section that found Stewart and his band members sitting across the front of the stage.

Stewart played on his sex symbol reputation throughout the show without being creepy about it, and he engaged in his traditional kicking/tossing/heading soccer balls into the pavilion during the Faces' "Stay With Me." He was thwarted on one special plan, however, as an 89-year-old fan he planned to serenade on stage apparently left before "Have I Told You Lately," the designated moment. "Who does that?!" Stewart says with a laugh. "She (messed) up!"

But Stewart didn't, at all, during his show, leaving as the band vamped through Guy Lombardo's "Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think)" -- an apt closer for a night that could not have been more enjoyable.

Lauper helped make it so, too, with her 55-minute opening set. Quickly doffing her blue wig, top hat and jacket due to the extreme heat, she offered a hit parade of her own with rockers such as "She Bop" and "Money Changes Everything," along with covers of Wanda Jackson's "Funnel Of Love" and Skeeter Davis' "The End Of The World" from her 2016 country album "Detour." Lauper forayed into the pavilion during "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough" and played dulcimer during "Time After Time" and a medley of "Not My Father's Son" and "True Colors," and she celebrated "Girls Just Want To Have Fun'" role as an empowerment anthem by showing photos of the women's marches in January on the video screens.

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