Rod Stewart/Cyndi Lauper/Jon Stevens
Sunday, May 26th
A Day on the Green, Sirromet Wines, QLD
The rock giants are simultaneously transversing the globe in a last act of rebellion. When the whole shebang kicked off in – arguably – 1954, no one expected the generation that followed to still be out there on the road as they were pushing, or passing, 80.
But the likes of Paul McCartney, Elton John, and the younger men among them, Bruce Springsteen and Sting, continue to pull record crowds.
Although he hasn’t quite called ‘a last lap,’ Rod Stewart has strongly alluded to it: wondering aloud how much longer he can go on and predicting this will be his last Australian tour. Playing a mix of indoor arenas and outdoor A Day on the Green festivals, this reviewer caught Rod on the second of a two night stint at Sirromet.
Earlier in the day, Jon Stevens played a mix of solo material, Noiseworks’ favourites and INXS covers. With the full house prepped to sing, Cyndi Lauper then emerged from an on-stage door as visuals on a giant television screen transported us back to her 1980’s heyday.
Cyndi didn’t disappoint. Fronting a tight band, she performed her unique mix of punk-pop and soul. Opening with “Hole In My Heart (All The Way To China)”, she took us through a catalogue of hits that included “Money (Changes Everything)”, “True Colours”, “She Bop”, and a song with a melody good enough for Miles Davis to cover, “Time After Time”.
Early on Cyndi took a moment to stop and ask the audience to take in the sunset. Later she shed a tear recalling her time in bar bands covering Rod’s “Sailing” before she gave us a chorus of it and morphed it into her own “Sally’s Pigeon’s”. The apex of her hour-long set was a socio-political preamble, followed by a rousing “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”.
After blowing out a show due to poor health at the Mt Duneed Estate a week prior, Rod hit the stage in particularly fine voice.
Shaking his set up when playing multiple nights, Stewart benched his usual cover of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted To Love” and opened with a rip-roaring “Infatuation”. Early highlights included “You Wear It Well” and Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Rock N’ Roller”. The crowd were on their feet immediately and stayed there for at least the next hour.
Stewart began his set like a man playing an encore: having so much fun at the high voltage intensity of it all, at one point he even slapped his own buttocks.
When it came to the band, no expense was spared with thirteen players on board. That’s two drummers, a harpist, string players, a trio of backing singers and a tuxedoed core band. Turning on a dime, the ensemble easily moved between rockabilly, blues, folk, power-pop and seventies disco.
Rod showed off his vocal prowess on killer ballads “The First Cut Is The Deepest”, “I Don’t Want To Talk About It”, “Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright)”, “You’re In My Heart (The Final Acclaim)”, and the show’s closer, “Sailing”.
“Maggie May” was performed a smidge slower and without the obligatory kicking of footballs by Rod into the audience. We can only assume in 2023 that occupational health and safety weren’t keen on the idea.
While Rod ducked off a couple of times for a quick costume change, the trio of backing singers took centre stage for terrific covers of Donna Summer’s “Hot Love” and Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade”. The latter segued into Rod’s own disco classic “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”.
Here was a guy closer to eighty than he is to seventy delivering one of the best sets to grace the venue. If there was a single highlight that shone above everything else it might have been “Young Turks” with Rod delivering the imprimatur, “young hearts/be free tonight/time is on your side”.
The show was a knock-down, drag ’em out, triumph. Rod isn’t raging against the dying of the light – he’s kicking its ass in a satin jacket and Dolce & Gabbana shoes.