Rod's still mod at 49
by Gavin Lance
Austin American Statesman; Austin, Tex.; Apr 1, 1994

Rod Stewart's performance in Austin Wednesday night before about9,500 fans could almost be measured as a double shot. Artistically,Stewart appeared to wrestle with apathy - the Austin stop was one of the last on a grueling yearlong tour - until he seemed to remember, halfway through his set, that ex-Faces bandmate Ronnie Lane was in the house. From there he bolted into overdrive like the Rooster of old.

Judging by the adulation a mostly female audience gave him, he shook the Erwin Center off the rock Richter scale. Pacing himself through a 2 1/4-hour workout, the newly enshrined Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee carried a rhapsodic disposition for 27 songs, treating each with varying degrees of respect, though none were tossed out clumsily.

While Stewart's Pink Panther-strut inspired many in the audience to revel in his weak Da Ya Think I'm Sexy-era myth, it was his reinvigorated classics, especially those from his multiplatinum Unplugged . . . and Seated album, that enhanced the evening's affair. Still, it was evident by the whoops and rhythmic hand-claps cascading upon him that to some Stewart was little more than a beefcake bumpkin who didn't seem to mind being ogled as if he were the second coming of Tom Jones and not a master of pop songcraft.

Stewart obliged the 30-somethings' insistence to sing along on his more commercial flights of fancy: During one stretch, four straight songs were interrupted to allow the audience to carry the refrain. After whipping through Maggie May, he put his hands on his hips, gazed into the dark blankly, and practically yawned "'tis my pleasure."

At the show's outset, the man who is known in turn as "the haircut," "the nose" and "the voice," didn't seem to feel any urgency to be heard over the cacophony of noise his eight-piece band and full-scale orchestra provided. Stewart's famed sandpaper-like vocal chords remained buried in the overly percusive sound mix until the tempo slowed for Reason To Believe, the third song.

Stewart was most buoyant when he arrived at his Faces medley. Noting that it was the first time, to his knowledge, that he and two of his legendary Brit-rock supergroup bandmates had been in Austin together (Lane, an Austin resident, was front and center as Stewart's special guest, while Ian McLagan sat behind keyboards onstage), Stewart plunged into Stay With Me and Sweet Little Rock and Roller.

That momentum carried over the remainder of the show, reaching its peak with Have I Told You Lately, Van Morrison's This Old Heart of Mine and a tribute to Motown during which, after two hours of calisthenics, the 49-year-old Stewart still had the energy to do jumping jacks and kick a soccer ball into the mezzanine.

Twisting the Night Away brought the show to a rousing conclusion. When all was said and done, Rod the Mod proved on this night that his is a voice that will be everlasting.



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