TVD Live Shots: Rod Stewart and Cheap Trick at Xfinity Center, 8/12

MANSFIELD, MA | There was never a dull moment on stage at the Rod Stewart show Friday night in Mansfield, Mass. The 77 year-old British rock and pop singer and songwriter brought every bit of energy, charisma, and showmanship to the Xfinity Center.

The show opened with Cheap Trick, who remains a good rock ‘n roll band, skillful on their instruments and vocals, but with little fan interaction or compelling dynamics on stage. But, there was some renewed enthusiasm in the band thanks in part to Robin Taylor Zander, son of Cheap Trick’s front man Robin Zander. The young Zander plays rhythm guitar and offers vocals. The band played a great mix of songs from their catalog, but for Cheap Trick fans there to hear the hits that’s exactly what they got with show closers: “I Want You To Want Me” and “Surrender/Goodnight.”

Sir Roderick’s set design included a large arch of video displays over the stage, and disco-esque mirror paneling along the band’s platform. The look was sharp and the mood: exhilarating—a feeling like something special was about to happen. A group of female musicians strolled on stage, their seductive and serious expressions a nod to Robert Palmer’s memorable music video, as the man of the hour made his entrance to “Addicted to Love.” Right away, Stewart showed off some signature moves and a cheeky smile for the ladies in the front row.

Stewart was in constant motion, singing his legendary songs and offering tidbits about his writing process and memories of Studio 54. He wiggled, shook his glittered pant leg, and twirled his mic stand like it was 1982. Seventy-seven or 37—he didn’t skip a beat.

“Stewart’s girls” made the show stand out from the typical acts that come through this venue. Their synchronized dancing brought a feeling of a Caesar’s Palace show to the Boston area amphitheater. Each talented singer was also gifted in a wide variety of instruments, including a big marching band drum, violin, and harp. There’s no doubt Stewart continues to surround himself with performers of talent and range.

Sir Rod skillfully sang hours’ worth of hits including, “You Wear It Well,” “Maggie May,” “Tonight’s the Night,” but also entertained the crowd with fun covers including a stunning version of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind.” He paid a heartfelt tribute to the people of Ukraine during “Rhythm of My Heart,” displaying their country’s flag which brought cheers and applause from the crowd.

In a special acoustic set, he charmed his fans with “Tonight’s the Night,” “You’re in My Heart,” and “Have I Told You Lately.” As the evening ended with “Hot Legs,” a few lucky fans were thrilled as he kicked out a dozen autographed soccer balls. From start to finish, Rod Stewart as a performer has a unique vitality that few artists can hang on to in their later years. His concert, delayed two years and rescheduled twice due to Covid-19 pandemic, was worth the wait.

CHEAP TRICK

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