Sir Rod opens the show for Eddie Money on Sat., Sept. 24 at 8pm for Sunfest.
Cognitive dissonance. Ambivalence. Polarization. That's how one feels about Rod Stewart: shame, that. As Morrissey sang, we hate it when our friends become successful. But when you go from promising young rocknsoul singer with a proto metal band that Led Zeppelin stole more from than they did Willie Dixon, to the best Rolling Stones band not actually named The Rolling Stones, to...lounge lizard lite? Engelbert Humperdinck? Mel Torme, The Velvet Fog? But then he'll go and let the latent rocker we all know is screaming for vengeance out to play with old mates. Or release a piece of rocknroll found on the street like "Finest Woman That I’ve Ever Known" just a couple years ago. Hell, even after his Atlantic Crossing to Hollywood in 1975 - after Faces fell, well, on their faces - considered his official "sellout" - he made his heaviest hard Stones rock with Carmine Appice's heavy hands on plodding sub Bonham drums and "Hot Legs", influenced by "Tumbling Dice". And Carmine cowrite "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy", ploddingly silly subdisco: is this guy serious? (Ministry side project Revolting Cocks thought so, covering the infamous hit in 1993.) Am I serious? Laugh/scoff/harrumph if you will, hipsters and musical elitists/snobs - a club of which I’m a card carrying member - but these were and are great goddamn songs.
So yes, I still admit my affection for Rod Stewart, a soft spot and guilty pleasure. His pedigree/resume started impeccably. His devastating version of "Old Man River" from March 1967 commenced his commiseration with ex Yardbird Jeff Beck - a guitarist rated by the like of Scotty Moore (yes, Elvis' original sidekick), Joe Perry, Michael Schenker, Mick Ronson, Eddie Van Halen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Joe Satriani - and included Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, and Keith Moon. That first Beck album followed in July 1968, with future Face/ late of The Birds and Creation Ron Wood on bass (not guitar); it covered Willie "I Am The Blues" Dixon's "You Shook Me" - Jonesy, again, on organ (!) months before Zeppelin did. "Rock My Plimsoul" predicted Page/Plant's call/response by the same margin: Jimmy was taking notes! For that alone Rod can be exonerated of the schmaltz. "Blues Deluxe"? This legendary album, again, Led the way, pun intended. And again, "The Blues"' "I Ain't Superstitious" proves heavy metal pedigree in that it was covered by Megadeth eighteen years later. This version most likely! A year later Faces first rehearsal covered Dixon's "Evil" and Big Bill Broonzy's "I Feel So Good". So we’ve established that the cat was rooted in the same blues as the other sixties British heavyweights. Stewart maintained a smashingly successful solo career, initially with Wood as his main man, whilst drinking Blue Nun and champagne at the onstage bar (!) with the lads til their final tour in Summer 75, the final Faces single having been recorded Fautumn 74 ("You Can Make Me Dance"/"As Long As You Tell Him"). But the rock stopped rolling, more or less, and rocking Rod was under heavy manners as the rastas say, after 1984's Camouflage.
Which brings us to OC local Tommy Edward and Sir Rod. A solo performer in his own right - guitar, covers unfortunately - Edward imitates the newly knighted Englishman about as well as anyone could, as I’ve not seen another, nor have any such desire or inclination. The bottom line is it’s a fun show at Springfest and Sunfest annually, and there is no better venue for any performance than Sunset Park downtown on the bay as the sun sets. The Sir Rod experience went down ahead of said sun Thursday at seven and was as predictable as you like, all the usual suspects in the form of the hits present and accounted for.
What's remarkable about seeing said Sir is that said hits are apparently a bottomless well, the familiar radio fodder becoming overwhelming over the course of the two hour revue as one realizes just how much ammunition is in that old cannon. Edward has much from which to choose from an impressive catalog of crowd pleasures even with Stewart originals to work with. So the only question is, why must he choose so many of the old geezer's so many covers? But IMHO that goes for any artist: why cover a cover? It's been done before. There are more than enough good songs to go around. Copy one that hasn't been copied already. We've heard that tune before, ad nauseum. Yes, when a band plays an unnecessarily overplayed cover, that's my cue to flee. But in this case, the drum solo is worth sticking around for: Harry's metallic turn perhaps gives one a glimmer of where his boss' sentiments really lie (just like his idol, a rocker at heart?). As does keyboard/backup singer Melissa's hairswinging, if not headbanging, raucous raw enthusiasm, calculatedly infectious. A contrivance? Of course, but that's beside the point in a performance that's wheel(chaired) out for festival folk twice a year, at Spring/Sunfest, and other county fair type family friendly hoedowns - like the Thursday Nights In The Park series, all of which were (mostly) cover/tribute acts for tourists who won't have their musical tastes, such as they are and subsist of whatever is on classic rock radio, or the pop hits station that plays what plays at Food Lion.
Cynical? What the hell, I had fun.
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