Gig review: Rod Stewart at First Direct Arena, Leeds

Sir Rod Stewart at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Steve Riding
Sir Rod Stewart at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Steve Riding
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Rod Stewart has changed little throughout the past four decades.

His show last night at Leeds Arena proved that, despite being a tad slower in his movements these days, this 71-year-old rock legend still possesses the trademark raspy voice and charisma that made him one of Britain’s biggest music stars.

Playing to a packed house, his soulful band of musicians did a sterling job of supporting him throughout his 21-song set. Taking to the stage in his usual, unnecessarily tight jeans, paired with a zebra print jacket, he launched into a rousing rendition of Sam Cooke’s Having a Party, whipping the female members of the audience into a frenzy with a cocksure strut that would make Mick Jagger pale.

Nearly fifty years of stardom have clearly not wilted Stewart’s sense of humour, which was proven when, during his unplugged section at the front of the stage, he performed an abridged version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and a roadie stood behind him on a stepladder, sprinkling fake snow over his spiked haircut. A rather depressed-looking, miniature Christmas tree plonked in the foreground certainly set the ambience for the song.

He brought the room into fits of laughter while honouring the “three” members of the Faces who have passed on, before remembering that there have only been two.

Classics like Maggie May and Tonight’s the Night remain as fresh today as they did in the 1970’s, as does Stay With Me – a track that was extended so Stewart could kick out footballs to the adoring masses.

Sir Rod Stewart at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Steve Riding

Sir Rod Stewart at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Steve Riding

A pulsating rendition of Da Ya Think I’m Sexy ended the main set, filled with funky bass solos, screaming saxophone and impenetrably high notes from Stewart’s backing singers. Such was the energy, Stewart’s curtain came down on the band as they were still performing... only to be raised 30 seconds later to reveal the whole ensemble had dropped to the floor from exhaustion.

They were soon on their feet to deliver the final song of the night, Enjoy Yourself – a fitting closer on an evening of frivolity and old fashioned, good-time rock and roll.

Sir Rod Stewart at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Steve Riding

Sir Rod Stewart at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Steve Riding

Sir Rod Stewart at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Steve Riding

Sir Rod Stewart at First Direct Arena, Leeds. Picture: Steve Riding

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