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Rod rocks, Adams underwhelming opener

Rod Stewart / Bryan Adams
Sears Centre
Hoffman Estates, IL
Aug. 5, 2008
Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart
Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams
Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart

Story and Photos By Andy Argyrakis

If it wasn't for Rod Stewart's rock n' roll roots, chances are the former Faces front man turned solo star could've remade standards indefinitely, especially considering his first four volumes of The Great American Songbook throughout the front half of the 2000s were amongst his best selling to date. Even if the age defying entertainer gained an unexpected career resurgence as a result, he's clearly shed that soft spoken skin on a brand new tour boasting nothing but all those gloriously greasy hits.

And at the Sears Centre stop, many of the main staples throughout the 63-year-old's career were devoured by a packed house who welcomed the full-fledged return of Rod the rocker with outstretched arms. From early renditions of "Some Guys Have All the Luck" and "Forever Young," Stewart and his eleven member entourage were all about the energy, twirling about like there was no tomorrow. The singer promised faithful would be rewarded with nothing but familiarity and he obliged on countless occasions, from the retro jangle of "Reason To Believe" through the soulful doo-wop of "The Motown Song" and even a taste of his "Unplugged...And Seated" era from the 90s.

That segment featured a cover of Van Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately," which despite somewhat garbled attempts at the high notes, was still unmistakably Stewart and ended with a few bluesy screams. The star also rearranged the Tom Waits-penned "Downtown Train," starting off as a serene ballad before exploding into a dueling percussion romp and ending with a full audience sing-a-long (as he re-emerged from backstage with a new outfit no less).

The communal participation continued throughout the sassy "Hot Legs" and the danceable "Young Turks," during which the self-proclaimed sports fanatic kicked dozens of soccer balls all across the arena. The mandolin infused "Maggie Mae" closed out the concert with Stewart quieting the band at one point to allow the ten thousand-plus spectators to take center spotlight. Still it was the evening's main star who earned all the applause at the end for his larger than life personality, which at this point, seems like even more of the draw than the songs themselves.

Opener Bryan Adams was less impressive but still somewhat competent, recalling guitar anthems like "Cuts Like a Knife" and "Summer of '69." In fact, he was much better in electric contexts than acoustic segments, with the drowsy "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" and "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" suffering from his weathered range. Adams closed his set with the underwhelming "All For Love," originally a triple team that also included Sting and an inexplicably absent Stewart. At least the headliner appeared shortly thereafter and confirmed to be well worth the wait, though he could've certainly carried the bill all by himself.

Related articles:

Thanks for the Memory... The Great American Songbook Volume IV
- Album review - Dec. 2005

Concert review - Milwaukee, IL - Nov. 2001
Human - Album review - June 2001
Concert review - Milwaukee, IL - Aug. 1998

Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart
Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams

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