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Concert Reviews:
Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks have blonde fun at Joe Louis Arena

of the Oakland Press

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DETROIT -- They say blondes have more fun. Rod Stewart even used the adage for an album title once.

And on Sunday (April 10) at Joe Louis Arena, with Stewart and opener/special guest Stevie Nicks, the saying continued to hold true.

Though both artists' voices have seen better days, particularly Nicks', it was still a night full of hits with a superstar-like aura. In the 80s it's the kind of bill you might have seen at the Pontiac Silverdome, or over multiple nights at the then-Pine Knob Music Theatre. On Sunday it didn't nearly fill Joe Louis, but it delivered plenty of blonde-haired and raspy-voiced fun for the boomer-dominated crowd.

After being introduced by Stewart, Nicks didn't waste any time jumping into her A-list as she and her nine-piece band tore into the shifting gait of "Stand Back" and were quickly gliding through Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams," part of a 95-minute set that included extended versions of "Gold Dust Woman," "Rhiannon" and "Edge of Seventeen," a cover of Tom Petty's "You Wreck Me" and a couple of deep catalog selections such as "Sorcerer" and "Love Is," both from 2001's "Trouble in Shangri-La" album.

Nicks accompanied "Landslide" with a slide show of photos from the past, primarily of her late father Jess Nicks, while "Secret Love," her taste of her upcoming album "In Your Dreams" -- due out May 3 -- was actually one of the strongest parts of her show.

Nicks showed up during Stewart's headline set as well, though the two didn't exactly set off sparks; their rendition of her "Leather and Lace," originally done with the Eagles' Don Henley, at least fared better than a stiff romp through Stewart's "Young Turks," during which Nicks did not seem particularly happy to be surrounded by Stewart's three mini-dressed backing singers.

Blame that on a simple difference in sensibilities. Nicks trades on poetics and ethereal mystery; Stewart is -- and certainly was on Sunday night -- an eternal party boy, still shaking his bottom at 66 and enjoying his ability to do that as much as any of his fans. There's a gravity to that kind of lightheartedness as well, but over the course of 19 songs and an hour-and-45-minutes it was mostly the "musical extravaganza" promised on the curtain that surrounded the stage before Stewart and his 13-piece band came on.

Like Nicks, he didn't scrimp on the hits, filling the show with the likes of "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)," Cat Stevens' "The First Cut is the Deepest," Tim Harden's "Reason to Believe," "You're In My Heart (The Final Acclaim)," Van Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately"...the list goes on -- and many of them highlighted Detroit guitarist Paul Warren. Stewart, who changed outfits three times, also drew from his recent covers albums -- not the Great American Songbook sets but 2006's "Still the Same...Great Rock Classics of Our Time" and 2009's "Soulbook" for a show-opening rendition of the O'Jays "Love Train" and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" And he offered a double-dip into the Sam Cooke catalog with "Twistin' the Night Away" and "Havin' a Party."

Stewart dedicated "Forever Young" to his two-month old son Aiden, who was shown on the video screen wearing his dad's favorite Celtic Football Club attire, while "You're in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)" became a salute to the soccer team. Stewart saluted recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Tom Waits before his "Downtown Train," no mention of Bob Seger's new version, and "Some Guys Have All the Luck" was a homage to the late Robert Palmer, who recorded it before Stewart. "Rhythm of My Heart," meanwhile, started with a comment about recent events in Libya -- "A war we can ill afford but can't pull out of," Stewart noted -- and was accompanied by footage of the 1940 World War II Battle of Dunkirk.

Then there were the soccer balls, more than two dozen kicked and thrown in to the crowd during "Hot Legs" and "Maggie May." And as he closed the show with "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?," Stewart, and likely some of his fans, seemed amused but also pleased that the answer remained affirmative.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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