Review: Rod Stewart rocks Leeside with high energy entertainment

Rod Stewart on stage at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Larry Cummins

Age is just a number for Rod Stewart. 74 years of age, he took the Páirc Uí Chaoimh stage with the gusto and presence of a man half his age.

"We are going to forget about Brexit and all that and have some fun," he announced to the cheering crowd, made up largely of 30- 40- and 50-somethings, not a teen or tween in sight. Plastic pints mixed in with the odd Zimmer frame, a very different demographic for Cork city on a Saturday night.

The veteran rocker promised a full-on two-hour show - no interval - and boy did he deliver with Páirc Uí Chaoimh was buzzing right from the start.

Pictures: Larry Cummins

He belted out all the classics, including only one unknown from his new album - and reassuring fans afterwards: 'Don't worry, you'll know all the rest'.

Rod is a performer and always has been. He's been doing it long enough to know how to get the crowd going and keep them rocking in the aisles. He knows his market and his audience. There was a harp, a bit of Irish dancing and a moving version of 'Grace' that bought most of the stadium to their feet.

A massive Celtic fan, he was celebrating his team seeing off the challenge of Hearts by a margin of 2-1 at the Scottish Cup Final. Earlier that day, he went to the Royal Yacht Club in Crosshaven for lunch before watching the match. Celtic has now won nine domestic trophies in a row, an unprecedented treble treble.

As a result, he told the audience: "I had a list of everything that I was going to say - But I can't fucking remember any of it now."

Senior moments, mixed with a love of football and the F-word. Pure Rod.

Rod Stewart on stage at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Larry Cummins
Rod Stewart on stage at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Larry Cummins

To the delight of Leeside, he then unveiled a tribute to former Ireland, Celtic and Manchester United midfielder Liam Miller, who died last year from cancer. A picture of Miller overtook the backdrop to the stage with the message: Liam Miller, 1981-2018.

Páirc Uí Chaoimh created history last year when it hosted a tribute match for Miller so it seemed fitting that he was being honoured again in the same venue.

It's not just about the songs for Rod, it's about interaction. He's a born flirt, the cheeky grin and spiky hair would look out of place on most men in their 70s but he gets away with it.

He oozes charm, flirts unashamedly and constantly acknowledges individuals in the crowd with a wink and a wave. It could be cheesy or cringe-worthy - but it's not. Because it's Rod.

He blasted out the hits, kicking off with 'Infatuation', 'You Wear it Well', 'Tonight's The Night' and 'Forever Young'. 'Every Rhythm of My Heart' and 'Some Guys Have All The Luck' followed on before he got everyone going with 'Maggie May'.

"I wrote this in 1971 - the year my wife Penny was born," he quipped, adding that she was rocking in the aisles somewhere.

The 1976 hit, The Killing of Georgie, went down particularly well. Stewart gave an introduction to the first major pop song to tell the tale of a gay man who died, in part, because of his sexual identity. He said people told him this song gave them the courage to speak out about their sexuality.

As the night went on, the crowd got livelier and more engaged. The lyrical beauty of the tracks 'First Cut Is The Deepest' and 'Have I Told You Lately' were followed the uptempo 'Baby Jane' and 'Do You Think I'm Sexy?'.

'Sailing' he saved until near the end.

The night ticked all the boxes for fans. It was high energy entertainment from start to finish with no let up. The crowd didn't want him to finish and begged for an extra encore. "This is the best night of my life," he shouted out near the end of the show. It didn't really matter if he meant it or not because at that moment we believed him.

Keep on rocking, Rod. Boy you wear it well.

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