Last night, two of the heaviest of heavyweights reunited at The Hollywood Bowl, where Jeff Beck performed a set with old bandmate and vocalist, Rod Stewart. Billed by the announcer as, “The first reunion of these legends in thirty-five years,” it was actually a reunion that hadn’t happened in about ten years, but it added to the hype. People literally flew in from around the world for this landmark event. But there was more to the show than the Beck set.
First off, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the debacle of getting to the venue, finding parking (which was harder than obtaining entry), and the apocalyptic crowd control. I live about a five-minute drive from The Bowl. When they do a fireworks night, I can clearly see and hear it. That journey took roughly 90 minutes. Getting inside was slightly more onerous. By the time we found our seats, Sir Rod was already six songs into his set. OK, rant about traffic and entry over. In their defense, the promoter did make every effort to dissaude concert-goers from driving, and this concert was completely sold out. I’ve spoken with multiple people who had the exact same experience, but I guess when it’s something this special that’s the price you pay (plus the $850 face-value ticket).
This was an entirely different Rod Stewart than last year’s performance at The Bowl, and wow! Last year’s show was much more acoustic and ballad-filled, and Rod kept everything low. Last night, Rod’s voice and song choices were wonderful. He still did his acoustic set, but he also hit some crowd favorites, such as “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” and “Stay With Me.” If you think Rod is too old to be asking if you still think he’s sexy, you haven’t seen this live–he does it completely tongue-in-cheek–he’s in on the joke.
Rod’s voice has improved from last year, giving it his all, he was hitting more high notes, and that famous, raspy growl that perfectly complements the precision and clarity of Jeff Beck was there! Although one of the greatest duos in rock history (some say that this was the template for Led Zeppelin), seemed to be missing something: chemistry. Like everyone else there who’d brought a camera in, I was hoping for more interplay between old friends, but the short set had very little interaction. Jeff seemed a bit detached, both from Rod and the audience, but perhaps that’s because he was “a guest,” and not a fully-billed headliner, he was simply doing what he does best, “Shut up and play that guitar”.
Easily considered to be one of the best guitarists ever, he did not disappoint. Nor did the sound, there is nothing in the world like being at The Hollywood Bowl on a perfect autumn night, with a slight breeze and those cool, melodious notes emanating from those hands. Rod’s band performance of Fleetwood Mac’s “You Can Go Your Own Way” was slightly less confusing than last year, he does it between sets to give his voice a rest, and a golden voice like Sir Rod’s deserves a rest. The Who’s Roger Daltrey had to cancel a pair of dates this week, as did Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler due to vocal issues, so it was expected, albeit a bit strange. Rod doesn’t put the backup singers in the background, he puts them front and center. With their glittering skirts and great vocals, they are an act within an act.
All in all, this was a landmark event, even for Los Angeles, and it’s just another reason that living here is to be in the center of it all, from a musical standpoint anyway. There have been no other announced pairings of J-Rod in the future, so perhaps we were witnessing the last pairing of these two giants, which would make last night’s show even more special. The only thing really missing last night? No Sir Rod kicking out soccer balls as he always does. Getting hit in the face by a ball kicked by Rod Stewart can pay well, so perhaps that’s why he doesn’t do it. He’s reflecting on the fan that sued him in 2012 after having his nose broken by said ball. As Sir Rod said, “Well, it’s a contact sport”. So was the paring of Rod and Jeff, it was a musical contact sport!
Rod Stewart, Hollywood Bowl, Sept. 27, 2019 Set List
2. “Having a Party”
3. “It Takes Two”
4. “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)”
5. “Rhythm of My Heart”
6. “Forever Young”
7. “Maggie May”
8. “The Killing of Georgie”
9. “Stay With Me”
10. “Young Turks”
11. “Reason to Believe”
12. “The First Cut Is the Deepest”
13. “You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)”
14. “Have I Told You Lately”
15. “Go Your Own Way”
16. “Twisting the Night Away”
17. “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”
Encore (With Jeff Beck)
19. “Blues Deluxe”
20. “I Ain’t Superstitious”
21. “People Get Ready”
22. “Rock My Plimsoul”
23. “Morning Dew”