Rod Stewart working his magic again
Rod Stewart has played the Colosseum more than 100 times since he kicked off his Las Vegas residency in August 2011, but when he returns to Caesars Palace this week he’ll be taking the stage as Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Knighted Sir Roderick Stewart by Prince William in October, the 72-year-old singer has completed a transformation from British rock’s enduring everyman singer to literal rock royalty. It’s not something he expected but, as he has always done with good fortune in a career that began when he had to ask his mother’s permission to jam with his first band three days short of his 19th birthday, he embraced it.
Stewart exchanged football for a harmonica after a poor but happy childhood. Growing up he was influenced by the stagecraft and singing styles of Al Jolson and Little Richard, and by his late teens had cultivated the trademark spiky hairstyle he evolved after finally giving up a lifelong battle to hold down a cowlick. The youngest son of a large Scots-British family, Stewart’s desire to be the center of attention contrasted with the stage fright that followed him from his beginnings emulating Sam Cooke to fronting the Jeff Beck Group. A glowing New York Times front-page review of a concert at the Fillmore Auditorium during that band’s first tour validated Stewart’s conviction that he had the potential to be famous.
He left Beck to join boyhood friend Ron Wood in the Faces, whose drunken camaraderie and good-time rock ’n’ roll helped him get over his shyness. The new gig freed him up to focus on his solo career and a series of hits such as “Maggie May” and “You Wear it Well,” both of which were part of his set during his last shows. (He also worked the Faces’ “Ooh-La La” and “Stay with Me” into his 2016 Colosseum concerts.) By the end of 1975, Stewart left the Faces (enabling Wood to join the Rolling Stones), and rode a rocket to superstardom on the strength of No. 1 smashes such as “Tonight’s the Night” and a cover of Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut is the Deepest.”
In 1978, he had his biggest seller to date with disco-flavored “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy,” which drew criticism from music journalists who wanted more “Mandolin Wind,” but is enough of a fan favorite to have been the encore for the entire run of Rod Stewart: The Hits. Stewart would most rely on other songwriters for material throughout the ’80s and ’90s, scoring with covers of Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately” and Tom Waits’ “Downtown Train,” both of which have consistently been part of The Hits setlist.
After delving into pop standards in the 2000s, Stewart focused on songwriting again for his 2013 studio album, Time, which broke the Top 10 in the U.S. and went to No. 1 in the U.K. He followed that success with 2015’s Another Country, all the while kicking soccer balls from stages on both sides of the Atlantic. With no end in sight to his enthusiasm for performing, Sir Rod Stewart looks to be delivering The Hits indefinitely—or at least as long as his hair still stands on end.
Caesars Palace, 7:30 p.m. March 17-18, 21-22, 31 and April 1, starting at $49 plus tax and fee. 888.929.7849