Sunday, April 10, 2011

(Review) Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks - Chicago 4/9/11

With a wink and a smile, Rod Stewart delivers polished soul at United Center
By Bob Gendron
Chicago Tribune
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It takes certain moxie for a 66-year-old man to strut around in an electric purple suit, surround himself with pretty young women and sing "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy." Rod Stewart had nerve to spare Saturday co-headlining with Stevie Nicks at a packed United Center, where he didn't miss any chance to add pomp to campy circumstance. Ignoring his recent Great American Songbook guise for a turn as a dapper nightclub crooner, the British vocalist filled out a 100-minute set with polished renditions of soul standards served up with a wink and a smile.


Stewart made a name for himself decades ago with gritty interpretations of folk and blues. So it's natural that he performed tunes by the likes of Sam Cooke ("Having a Party"), Persuaders ("Some Guys Have All the Luck") and the O'Jays ("Love Train"). Yet along with the sandpaper rasp in his voice, all traces of rawness and poignancy are gone. In their place resides a smooth, soft timbre and humorous flair that suit his showman glitz. Heavily stylized and glossed, it's difficult to tell whether or not Stewart takes himself—or even any of his adult-contemporary ballads—seriously.

With his diamond bracelets, loud sport coats, exaggerated dance moves and visual shtick, he came across as a combination of Las Vegas-era Elvis, Liberace and "Married…With Children" character Al Bundy. A trio if female background singers and three other female instrumentalists, all wearing short dresses, looked loosely modeled after the women in Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" video. About the only old-school entertainer cliché Stewart lacked was calling out an assistant to wipe his brow with a handkerchief; he did that himself, and with elaborate effect.

Musical merit aside—Stewart's tame readings of classics such as Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Rock & Roller" sounded like the sanitized covers of R&B singles that dominated mainstream radio in the late 1950s—at least he had fun. Ironically, the only times Stewart appeared stiff occurred during two duets with opener Nicks. Strictly a crowd-pleasing endeavor, the pair's brief collaboration revealed little chemistry. On Nicks' "Leather and Lace," Rod the Mod seemed to be reading lyrics off a screen.


Nicks' uneven 70-minute set got off to a sleepy start before surprise guest Sheryl Crow joined her for "Sorcerer" and gave the vocalist reason to invest more toughness in the songs. Too bad her mellow nine-piece band never received the message.

Resembling a mystical gypsy, Nicks demonstrated hallmark traits—dramatic arm motions, ice-princess stares, cautionary nasal tones—while using scarves and shawls as props. But given she's preparing to release her first new record in 10 years, Nicks' decision to focus on Fleetwood Mac gems (including "Landslide," harmonized with Crow) and old solo hits reeked of the nostalgic shelter sought by artists with nothing left to prove.

16 comments:

Tony said...

And Rod's set was filled with new hits? The bias in this review is amazing.
So campy Vegas style lounge singing, trumps singer/songwriter rock? Interesting.
His bawdy and gawdy outfits merit praise in almost every review, while her clothing and stage presence are given mere mention with a sneer.
And when has she been relegated to opening act sftatus? thought they were coheading?
So glad I decided to skip this tour--my first since 1977. I will be attending the In Your Dreams tour, hopefully with an even mix of the new and classic...or as this douchebag reviewer would call it nostalgic shelter. But only for her set, not his.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more!!! I saw this concert in Madison Square Garden last week---and Stevie was GREAT!!!!

shelly said...

We were at the United Center last night to see the show and it was just that. Stevie is classic and unique, her style unlike any other performer/singer songwriter. That is why she can still sell music and has a vast following after all these years. With or without other singers on stage she always delivers what an avid fan expects from her. She is a Singer and a POET.
Rod Stewart is a performer, he entertains as any showman with attitude and the style of a true entertainer. He sings with attitude and has FUN with what he is doing!
Quite simply we had an enjoyable evening with two Fantastic and Iconic Singers!

Anonymous said...

Say what you want, but part of me is REALLY hoping Stevie reads this review. I don't necessarily agree with everything the critic said, but this part smacks of truth..."old solo hits reeked of the nostalgic shelter sought by artists with nothing left to prove."

Anonymous said...

That reviewer is obviously a Rod fan more than a Stevie fan.Too bad!I totally agree with all the above comments.Stevie is a POET and a SINGER and an ENTERTAINER and a GREAT PERSON! Rock on Stevie!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of the above comments.I will go see Stevie sing anywhere and anytime.I dont even OWN a Rod Stewart cd or album or whatever they're called now!I dont think they play 4 the same audience.I cant wait 4 Stevie's OWN tour!She puts on a Fantastic show by herself!!

Anonymous said...

Rod hasn't put out any new music in 20 years, He quit writing. He's the one who has been living off the past. Geesh!

Anonymous said...

It was a crowd of mostly Rod Stewart fans... at least 60-40 Rod fans at the 2 shows I saw... so should Stevie have played her hits to try and convert some new people who have never seen her? or should she have played new songs that no one ever heard before???? you don't win over a crowd of your non fans by playing unfamiliar music... Glad this tool is a writer and not someones manager...

Anonymous said...

Perfectly said.

tcr1130 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I didn't know screwing with Stevie was an option.

Anonymous said...

perfectly said to all but the last comment, I understood what the person said, did you not!!?? we all know stevie have a huge comeback coming this year, and am so glad to be around to enjoy it!!!

tcr1130 said...

stevie's fans are the most loyal fans out there!!! i will reword this section for one person... appreciate the artist she is, or get off the page!!! I could only wish to be able at 62 to do what she does, and she still does it great!!!!!!!!!!!!!! cant wait for the summer tour!!!!

Anonymous said...

My kids bought me tickets for my birthday. Awesome concert ,havent been to a concert since the 70s. Thanks guys, Love you.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was an awesome concert,we were in nosebleed seats .But i think Rod put on a better show then Stevie,love them both. Just wished i smoked a doobie before hand. TOTALLY AWESOME

Anonymous said...

who sang during one of there breaks ,she was good

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