Rocking with the best in stage show extraordinaire

Rod Stewart belted out myriad  hits spanning decades, over almost two hours, to an appreciative...
Rod Stewart belted out myriad hits spanning decades, over almost two hours, to an appreciative audience at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium. Photos by Craig Baxter.
Some of the more than 22,000 fans at the Rod Stewart show at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.
Some of the more than 22,000 fans at the Rod Stewart show at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.
Support act the James Reyne Band found plenty of crowd favour.
Support act the James Reyne Band found plenty of crowd favour.

Impossibly short skirts, sparkles, long legs, high heels, a sultry saxophone, a titillating trumpet; and all before Rod Stewart took to the stage on Saturday night. Dene Mackenzie relived some of his youth and much more at Rod Stewart - The Hits.

The signs something special was about to happen in Dunedin were obvious as crowds started streaming into Forsyth Barr Stadium soon after gates opened at 6.30pm on Saturday.

Running into an old friend earlier in the day, she commented that ''us grey hairs'' would be rocking with the best. And we were. Some people even wore Rod Stewart wigs.

The darker the stadium got before the lights finally went up, the faster the audience entered clutching their four beers, four wines or four of something.

As the trumpet and saxophone started hitting the notes, and the guitarists started driving the beat, a white suit-clad Rod Stewart walked on to stage and started Having a Party.

By the time he was ''dancing with my baby'' the audience was on its feet and that's where most of them stayed for the next one hour and 45 minutes.

And the sound was great. Not one person close to me had any complaints. But nothing is perfect, so let's get it out of the way right now.

Serving alcohol to people obviously inebriated is not on. A young man in a family group found to his regret eight small bottles of wine were too many.

After traipsing over me and my friend for most of the night, he hugged us and said what great buddies we were, then slipped and nearly went over the edge of the stand. Shut the bar while the show is on.

But what a show. It was more than a concert; it was a stage show extraordinaire. Close your eyes and listen to the guitar and drums and you could be mistaken thinking you were back in the 1970s when Rod really was rocking.

''It's going to be a great night tonight,'' Stewart said before launching into Tonight's the Night followed by You Can't Stop Me Now, and no one wanted to.

In one of the most moving parts of any concert, The Rhythm of My Heart had some special meaning during the centenary year of Gallipoli.

With the background showing Australian soldiers leaving for war on troop ships, and some poignant images of children greeting their returning fathers, Stewart reached a peak for the audience when a huge Anzac poppy was displayed on the screen. It produced an audible gasp from those around me.

A couple behind me argued about how old Stewart was. But watching him kick footballs into the crowd, followed by the sight of older women scrambling after them, who cared how old he was. Some women wanted to know how he got into the tightest pants possible. I suggest the reverse was the true cause for wonder.

Happily, I qualify as a ''real Rod Stewart fan'', according to the man himself, for picking out the first chord of Handbags and Gladrags from his first album in 1969.

Rod Stewart was part of my youth and has been part of my life in music for more than 40 years.

A friend emailed me before the concert with the words: ''Enjoy Rod Stewart tonight, the best singer in the world''. On Saturday's performance, that statement is hard to argue against.

 

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