Forever Young, Sir Rod sang early on. And the beauty of tonight’s concert was that he made us feel that we were too.
Exactly 50 years to the month after recording his first album, Rod Stewart oozed energy, endless charm and self-deprecating humour on a beautiful summer’s night in Hove.
Across two hours – cut abruptly short when he hit the 9pm curfew – Rod delivered a set huge on power and pathos, backed by a supremely talented band, against dazzling stage projections which combined to give us not just the detail of the performance, but also animations, photographs and memories all supremely well synchronised on a night to savour.
There are plenty of rockers in the business whose voices have got a bit AWOL by the time they’ve been in the business this long; but goodness, Rod has still got it and got it in abundance, packing a punch when he needs to but also bringing it all down beautifully to offer the big ballads with a poignancy which is all his own.
Of course, the big hits are obligatory… but with Rod on this kind of form, they are also spine-tingling, and with the big screens behind and either side, there was something wonderfully immersive about tonight’s terrific rendition of Sailing and a truly sublime You’re In My Heart.
This really was the complete package, songs which clearly mean as much to the performer as they do to us, offered up by a showman so obviously having as a fine a time as we were.
There was plenty of ribbing of the people gathered in their “ivory towers”, the flats overlooking the ground; but there was seriousness too as Rod prefaced a stunning Rhythm of my Heart with a deeply felt tribute to the D-Day veterans he’d met a few weeks before.
These were songs with context; The Killing of Georgie was another of the night’s many, many highlights. Tonight really was the Night – a night rich in happy memories revived but also rich in huge enjoyment of the moment.
A shame it all ended so quickly. 9pm arrived – and Rod told us he had to stop, our rules, not his, he stressed. But he still managed to slip a final number in, and what a cracker it was. Stay With Me just at the moment he left us wanting more, just as you are supposed to do.
Half a century after recording that first album, Rod remains the consummate entertainer, the total stage natural, the cheeky chappie you can’t help but warm to who also happens to be a blistering performer armed with one of modern music’s very finest back catalogues.
A wonderful night in Hove.