Rod Stewart and Cyndi Lauper, Two Legends Who Thrill In Their Own Ways

Rod Stewart may not be forever young, but he's got an awful lot of energy for age 72.
Rod Stewart may not be forever young, but he's got an awful lot of energy for age 72. Photo by Violeta Alvarez
click to enlarge Rod Stewart may not be forever young, but he's got an awful lot of energy for age 72. - PHOTO BY VIOLETA ALVAREZ
Rod Stewart may not be forever young, but he's got an awful lot of energy for age 72.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez
Rod Stewart, Cyndi Lauper
Smart Financial Centre
August 12, 2017

It was the tale of two performers.

One had a show that had all the glitz, polish and showmanship of a Las Vegas revue. The other had a chaotic edge you couldn’t look away from. One has a voice you imagine could sing anything, and the other has one of the most unique voices in pop music history. One was the hardworking yet still laid-back literal Knight, and the other was a complete and total boss.

More than just their pop success and great hair, what really united Sir Rod Stewart and Cyndi Lauper on Saturday night was the sheer joy that both brought out of the audience at Smart Financial Centre.

Now, sure, most people go to shows anticipating having a good time, planning on having a good time, forcing a good time if they have to. But there was a buzz in the air, from the moment his lead in music started, that this crowd was electric for Rod Stewart in a way they haven’t always been at Smart Financial.

Photo by Violeta Alvarez
And in response he gave them a show. Beyond the hits and one really great newer track (“Can’t Stop Me Now”), there was tap dancing, a fun cover of “Proud Mary,” a legit sax solo, flying soccer balls and one pair of trousers given away to someone in the first row. Rod Stewart, literal Knight, also dabbed at one point, but with a show this rock-solid it’s hard to hold that against him.

No, his voice isn’t always as strong as it was in his youth, but it’s still brilliant. He seemingly switches genres on a dime and could do no wrong, whether he was tackling Chuck Berry, Van Morrison or one of the biggest disco hits of all time. He might not be forever young, but you’ll wish you had his energy when you hit 72.

There’s no question who is in control when Cyndi Lauper takes the stage. If she wants to talk, she’s going to talk. When she wants a song to go home, she’ll tell her band to wrap it up in the middle of a bar. God help you if you’re on the tech crew and something goes wrong because she will call you out.

click to enlarge Cyndi Lauper - PHOTO BY VIOLETA ALVAREZ
Cyndi Lauper
Photo by Violeta Alvarez
It’s enough that even if her songs weren’t great, she’d still be an amazing performer. But her songs are great. There was not a bad apple in the bunch, with her deeper cuts like “Money Changes Everything” and “I Drove All Night” hitting just as hard as her biggest singles. She was also unflinchingly political, whether it be about seeing the “girls just want to have fundamental rights” signs at marches earlier this year or touching on toxic masculinity before “Not My Father’s Son”, which after the events earlier in the day felt like needed moments of resistance.

You can put a price on a show, but it’s hard to quantify joy. Like I said earlier, people want to have a good time and will force it as best they can. Explaining how something makes you feel, whether it’s almost driving you to tears or giving you goosebumps, is so much harder. How do you explain how great it is to hear Cyndi Lauper hit the “I will be waiting” high part in the hook to “Time After Time”? Apologies for my language, but the text I sent to my best friend after the show was “Cyndi Lauper was fucking awesome.”

Photo by Violeta Alvarez
Personal Bias: To this day my father still mentions the time he saw Rod Stewart back in the ‘70s in San Antonio, a show where the crowd was so rowdy for “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” that Stewart ended up having to perform it three times. It’s one of those stories I’ve heard so much that it’s legendary, and I’m glad I have my own frame of reference for Sir Stewart now. Also, depending on the day you ask me, I might just tell you that “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” is the greatest pop song of all time.

The Crowd: There was a couple in front of me that could not stop getting out into the aisle and dancing. It was adorable. It was even better when another couple started swing dancing, and the dude from the first couple tried to distract security so the second couple could get a few more seconds out in the aisle.

Overheard In the Crowd: A lot of people felt they needed to explain to me and my plus-one that they wanted to hit the restroom before Rod hit the stage. They must have been super confused when the show started ten minutes later, in what I feel is probably the quickest set changeover I’ve ever witnessed.

Random Notebook Dump: Wearing the jersey of your favorite singer’s favorite soccer team is a level of dedication I’m not sure I possess.
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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia