Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks Toyota Center August 9, 2012
I really wish that Rod Stewart is recording the past few years of tours he's had under his belt, because he's in essence setting the bar for how to grow old in rock and roll without looking like a granny doofus or a stuttering clown. At 67 years old, Stewart may look weathered and perma-tanned (he sleeps on the Sun?) but at least he's still got the stones and humility to put on a capital-S show without a net, virtual or otherwise.
Plus, a 67-year-old who can expertly kick two dozen or so regulation-sized soccer balls into the crowd at a nearly sold-out arena show while singing "Hot Legs" without missing a beat is a hero in my book.
"No one is miming or playing to a tape, this is real," said Stewart after ending a mid-show acoustic-slash-orchestral set with his band and members of a local string section from Houston. OK, there was a teleprompter somewhere in front of him, but I am starting to think that every major touring act over the age of 30 uses them now.
Co-headliner Stevie Nicks opened the show with Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" as pictures of rock icons of yore -- that she probably partied "serious" with -- flashed on a giant screen behind her and her band. It was cool to see guitarist Waddy Wachtel in action next to Nicks after years of reading his name in biographies and liner notes, too.
Nicks' set was heavy on the solo big guns ("Stand Back", "Edge oOf Seventeen"), her newish In your Dreams material, and the mammoths from her Fleetwood Mac catalog. She also has a cool little tent onstage that she changes into different goth gear every few songs too.
Houston's August music calendar is getting another dose of Mac with Lindsey Buckingham playing Fitzgerald's in a few days, and the band itself should be here in 2013.
The witchy woman told a great story about visiting injured troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, before introducing "Soldier's Angel." During the middle of her story -- a moving one -- someone on the floor of the arena bellowed "Boring!" which was pretty classy.
Thursday night was Nicks and Stewart's last show on this tour together, but she promised more touring in the future. The duo makes for strange concert bedfellows, and they didn't end up taking the stage together as they had on some previous dates.
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She closed her portion of the show with a perfect version of "Landslide" with Wachtel. Give us them Mac dates already. Also, her "Landslide" means more at 64 years of age than it ever did when it was written, and she said as much onstage too.
Overall Stewart's and Nicks' shows were pretty heavy on the patriotic rah-rahs, but it was respectful and not intrusive. Who knew that Stewart was a military supporter?
"As a child of the post-WWII era I owe a debt to the ones that were lost," he said before launching into "Sailing". His generation of skinny Brit rockers -- and rock and roll itself -- very much owe their collective existences to the Allies. Stewart seems to be understanding that the older he gets.
No show with oldsters on the marquee would be complete without a few family photos, with Stewart showing off his toddler -- born since his last Houston appearance in 2009 -- and his older kids, including son Sean, who has been a tabloid mainstay in the past.
No doubt plenty of the parents and grandparents in the crowd knew what he meant by "my son who wasn't found his direction yet" line. It was fun to see what Kimberly Stewart looks like now, since it's been years (thankfully) since she was plastered -- maybe literally -- in every issue of Us partying with Paris Hilton in the mid-'00s.
He introduced "You Wear It Well" with a quick story about he and Ronnie Wood writing the cut while at Wood's mother's home. People rail on about a Faces reunion, but I just want to see Stewart team up with Jeff Beck again. Call me an elitist, but this is the Truth.
Stewart isn't totally free of his iffy American Songbook stuff, but at least now some it has made a nice transition into his normal setlist back of tricks, and he can still make Tom Waits' Rain Dogs cut "Downtown Train" into an R&B rave-up. As on previous tours, Stewart's young band turns his more gaudy dance and New Wave-inflected singles like "Young Turks" and "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" into great crunchy nuggets.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Stewart showed off some pictures of himself in nurse and prostitute drag on the big screen behind him onstage. He makes a good lookin' old French whore, and I know my old French whores.
Personal Bias: This video.
The Crowd: Older, more refined and wined than the Aerosmith crowd a few weeks back, which was more beer-y and acid-washed.
Overheard In the Crowd: "The wife said she might rush the stage. At our age, I don't care. I will just be amazed she can still rush anything," said a husband a row behind me.
Random Notebook Dump: To my recollection of the past six years covering shows, the only older pantheon artist I can remember that didn't use a teleprompter on stage was Neil Diamond.
STEVIE NICKS SET LIST
Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin cover) Enchanted Secret Love Dreams (Fleetwood Mac) Gold Dust Woman (Fleetwood Mac) Stand Back Soldier's Angel Rhiannon (Fleetwood Mac) Leather and Lace (With Steve Real) Edge of Seventeen
Landslide (Fleetwood Mac)
ROD STEWART SET LIST
Love Train (The O'Jays cover) Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright) Some Guys Have All the Luck (The Persuaders cover) Havin' a Party (Sam Cooke cover) You Wear It Well Rhythm of My Heart Sailing Young Turks Forever Young (Bob Dylan cover) Downtown Train (Tom Waits cover) Have I Told You Lately (Van Morrison cover) The First Cut is the Deepest (Cat Stevens cover) Reason to Believe (Tim Hardin cover) Rainy Night in Georgia (Tony Joe White cover) Sweet Little Rock and Roller (Chuck Berry cover) Proud Mary (Di Reed On Vocals, Creedence Clearwater Revival cover) You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim) Hot Legs Maggie May
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Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?