×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Rod Stewart

The ads for Rod Stewart's Hollywood Bowl concert, the finale of his current tour, tagged the show "from Maggie May to the Great American Songbook." But instead of the smooth progression promised, the two-hour perf showcased three distinctly different Stewarts: a perfunctory walk through his late '70s/early '80s solo hits; a rousing (and much anticipated) reunion with his "best mate and younger brother" Ron Wood; and a swanky, elegant showcase of his most recent J Records collections, "As Time Goes By" and "It Had to Be You."

With:
Band: Rod Stewart, Robin Le Mesurier, Don Kirkpatrick, Conrad Kosch, Henry Hey, David Palmer, Katja Rieckermann, J'anna Jacoby, Julie Delgado, Natasha Pearce, Esther Nicholson. Sting section conducted by Chuck Kentis.

The ads for Rod Stewart’s Hollywood Bowl concert, the finale of his current tour, tagged the show “from Maggie May to the Great American Songbook.” But instead of the smooth progression promised, the two-hour perf showcased three distinctly different Stewarts: a perfunctory walk through his late ’70s/early ’80s solo hits; a rousing (and much anticipated) reunion with his “best mate and younger brother” Ron Wood; and a swanky, elegant showcase of his most recent J Records collections, “As Time Goes By” and “It Had to Be You.”

The show’s opening songs did not inspire confidence. Stewart’s voice sounded like someone had punched holes in it: He lacked power and stamina, and when he tried to reach certain notes, all he grasped was air. The three backing vocalists often seemed to be covering up his limitations. But then, neither Stewart nor the band seemed to care much about “Young Hearts,” “Downtown Train” or a tribute to Robert Palmer.

It was left for Stewart the entertainer to salvage this section — his charisma remains undimmed, and he can still teach younger performers how to effectively wield a mic stand.

Things picked up when Wood, whose guitar playing alongside Stewart as a member of the Faces can be heard on the Rhino box set “Five Guys Walk Into a Bar,” sauntered onto the stage. Launching into the Faces’ “Stay With Me,” Wood lit a fire under the band, whose earlier playing sounded sleepy and mailed in, and took about 20 years off Stewart’s perf. His singing was looser, and playfully dogged by Wood, his movements took on a swaggering confidence.

Stewart tore into his classic reworking of the Temptations’ “(I Know) I’m Losing You” with a passion that couldn’t have been predicted a half-hour earlier, and had a rollicking good time with “Every Picture Tells a Story.” The highlight of this too-short portion of the evening was a deeply felt take on “I’d Rather Go Blind.” Even after Wood left the stage, his presence was felt in lively takes on “Hot Legs” and “Reason to Believe.”

Following a short intermission (including an ad for high-end sound systems featuring Stewart, a crass act for a show where tickets topped $500), a tux-clad Stewart returned at the top of a staircase, his band (augmented by a nine-piece string section) sitting at sparkly gold bandstands. Singing what he calls “some of the most beautiful songs ever written,” he lovingly delivered classic tunes including “As Time Goes By,” “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.”

Brighter and more lively than the recorded versions, Stewart is completely at home in these songs, using his craggy rasp to accent their melodic and emotional subtleties, making you wish he would ditch the often syrupy arrangements and record an album of classics in a small-group setting.

Section took a dive, however, when he moved from covers to his own material. “Tonight’s the Night” was creepy enough when it was first released, but now that he’s pushing 60, this musical seduction of a virgin veers into Humbert Humbert territory.

Things picked up when Wood returned (along with former Face Ian McLagan) for “Maggie May” and took the lead vocal on “Ooh La La.”

The best moments of this show proved that, when Stewart wants, he can still do what he did back in his prime.

Rod Stewart

Hollywood Bowl; 17,364 seats; $504 top

Production: Presented by Hewitt/Silva; Aug. 30, 2004

Cast: Band: Rod Stewart, Robin Le Mesurier, Don Kirkpatrick, Conrad Kosch, Henry Hey, David Palmer, Katja Rieckermann, J'anna Jacoby, Julie Delgado, Natasha Pearce, Esther Nicholson. Sting section conducted by Chuck Kentis.Special guests: Ron Wood, Ian McLagan.

More Scene

  • John CenaSports Illustrated Sportsperson of the

    John Cena on WWE's Acceptance by Hollywood and the Professional Sports World

    John Cena says the WWE is finally getting the attention it deserves by Hollywood and the professional sports world. “I’m just glad that no longer are we looked down upon, not only by the sport industry, but by the performing arts industry,” Cena told Variety on Tuesday night in Beverly Hills at Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of [...]

  • Steve Carell Welcome to Marwen

    Steve Carell on New Film 'Welcome to Marwen' and Reprising His 'Anchorman' Character

    In 2000, Mark Hogancamp was nearly beaten to death by five men outside of a bar. Left with brain damage and little money to afford therapy, Hogancamp began creating miniature doll versions of himself, his friends, and his attackers as a way to cope. This true story inspired the 2010 documentary “Marwencol” and the upcoming [...]

  • Christian Bale'Vice' film premiere, Arrivals, Los

    Christian Bale Recalls Meeting Donald Trump: 'He Thought I Was Bruce Wayne'

    With Christian Bale‘s latest film, “Vice,” a political dramedy, it’s inevitable ties will be drawn between the film and the current political administration and its chief, President Donald Trump. On the red carpet for the premiere of “Vice,” Bale, who stars as former Vice President Dick Cheney, shared that he met the current president while [...]

  • Amy Poehler Is Ready for a

    Amy Poehler Is Ready for a 'Parks and Rec' Reunion

    Is Amy Poehler just getting our hopes up? We hope not, because the funny lady tells Variety that she’s ready for a “Parks and Recreation” reunion. “I am technically available,” Poehler said on Monday at Smart Girls’ 10th anniversary celebration dinner. “I have like six of Leslie’s blazers in my closet, so anytime.” More Reviews Film [...]

  • Meredith Walker, Rashida Jones, Amy Poehler,

    Inside Amy Poehler's Smart Girls 10th Anniversary Dinner (EXCLUSIVE)

    “I’ve made an observation I’d like to share. I’m the only one that’s eaten my crab cake,” joked Amy Poehler as she addressed the room during the round robin introductions being made at her Smart Girls 10th anniversary dinner on Monday night. The 16 women at the table, who were so enthralled in the conversation [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron, Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de

    Alfonso Cuaron Says 'Roma' Is Better in Theaters

    Director Alfonso Cuaron opted to work with Netflix for his latest film “Roma,” but the decorated filmmaker isn’t discounting the importance of a big-screen viewing. “The complete experience of ‘Roma’ is unquestionably in a movie theater,” Cuaron said Monday night at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles for the premiere of “Roma.”  The streaming giant did [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content