July 27, 2012
Washington, DC USA
Review by Jeff DeFord
Photos by Craig Hunter Ross
Rod Stewart - Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks
Yeah, it's one of Rod Stewart's signature hits, but it also held a subtle meaning to the some 15,000 people who attended an inspiring evening of music at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. this particular Friday evening.
In a sense, tonight was a show of dueling divas. First we had everyone's favorite swirling and twirling chanteuse, Stevie Nicks, bringing her poetic magic to the stage for 75 minutes. It was followed by Rod the Mod. And yes, the Brit looked every bit a diva in his finely tailored outfits and dandy stage setup.
Tonight's theme, at least in this scribe's mind, can best be summed up by one of my all-time favorite lyrics, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." If you look at the history of these two rock icons, their individual success has indeed been spawned by the end of one era of their career that spawned a new and better one. And what a beginning each of them has had.
Stevie Nicks is an ageless beauty. There simply is no other way to put it. Her seductive, yet raspy vocals, give her songs just enough edge to hold your attention as she bobs and weaves on stage. Tonight, Stevie literally shook things up by rocking the crowd immediately with Led Zeppelin's iconic "Rock & Roll." From there, the rest of her song selections consisted of trips back in time - as well as glimpses into her mind today. Three tracks performed were from Nicks' 2011 release, In Your Dreams. Those tunes from that brilliantly overlooked album included "Secret Love", "Soldier's Angel" and "For What It's Worth." The rest of her set included her classic prose of hits including "Rhiannon", "Stand Back" and "Edge of Seventeen" among others. I would have loved for Stevie to include "Sara" in her mix bag of musical tricks, but hopefully she's saving it for another day. Honestly though, just being in her presence this evening was a thrill. Many in the crowd felt the very same way.
And then it was time for yet another ageless beauty, Rod Stewart. Talk about someone who has deftly learned to defy gravity. I'm not sure what his secret is, but with the rough and tumble life this singer has lived the past 50 years in the music business, his voice and looks have aged magnificently. I'm not going to say Rod Stewart has become something of an elder statesman of rock, but his tune has definitely changed. Much of that can be attributed to his series of Great American Songbook recordings of pop standards that sold in the millions the past ten years.
Stewart's classy stage up was elegant to say the least. In fact, it looked like a 21st Century makeover of a Lawrence Welk set. It didn't matter when Rod started singing and engaging with the crowd between tunes. The lighting throughout the night was superb, as was his impeccable wardrobe selection. Interestingly enough, Stewart included eleven cover tunes out of the 19-songs he performed.
Over the past ten years, the singer has shown a growing fondness for reinterpreting classic songs of yesteryear with his signature voice. It has worked beautifully for him. This crowd truly appreciated his take on such hits as Van Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately", Tom Waits' "Downtown Train", Cat Stevens' "The First Cut is the Deepest" and even the O'Jays "Love Train", which was the first song performed this evening. When the band cut loose on the C.C.R. anthem, "Proud Mary", the entire crowd was on its feet rollin' and singing along.
Stevie Nicks and Rod Stewart represent a period of time when people could actually feel the music. They handled the albums, read the lyrics, looked at the pictures and formed a connection with the artist. Sadly, that bond between artist and consumer has been downloaded into oblivion. Tonight, however, it wasn't. And for the thousands in attendance who came to pay their respects, the interesting paths down memory lane each artist took them on was worth every penny they spent for the experience.