I’ll never really understand some concert pairings; some make total sense, some not so much and then some are a total stretch. I would never have paired Rod Stewart with Cyndi Lauper but the packed audience at Grand Prairie’s Verizon Theatre got just that Friday night and it worked well.
Of course she has grown so much since the early 80’s pop songs, but Cyndi amazed me like I would never have thought. She definitely does not look her age as that same infectious smile is still ever present and her vocals still shine brightly. She has gone from pop starlet to songwriter to actress to composer and activist – sold over 50 million records, performed admirably on The Celebrity Apprentice and composed music for a Broadway show (2012’s Kinky Boots).
This show was all about the music however as she covered a wide range of her songs and threw in a few interesting cover tunes. I don’t think that I was entirely prepared for what she had to offer as she strolled out of the darkness into the light with bright green hair under a top hat, a 60’s-inspired flower power suit and carrying a suitcase. Launching right into the Wanda Jackson classic “Funnel of Love”, Cyndi was on top of her game from the first line. Touching on her time in Texas over the years, she spoke of her admiration for former Governor Ann Richards and also of Lady Bird Johnson as she reveled in her “girl power” just before starting “She Bop”. It was a little more subdued than the original – heavy on the bass and not as flashy as I thought it would be.
She showed off her considerable vocal range during “I Drove All Night” and told the audience a funny story about her time in Nashville (What Would Dolly Do?”) before tearing into a fine rendition of “The End of the World” by Skeeter Davis. Hats off to her keyboard player who stroked some fantastic notes during that one. The craziness ensued shortly thereafter as she reflected on the making of one of the funniest music videos ever – “The Goonies R’ Good Enough”. As the old music video played on screens behind her, Cyndi ran through the audience singing this one at the top of her lungs.
“You Don’t Know” from her 1996 Sisters of Avalon album was nice, The Brains cover “Money Changes Everything” was extremely vibrant and the quiet intro to “Time After Time” was simply beautiful. Speaking of last year’s Women’s Marches all around the United States, she spoke of how her “Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun” song had actually become a rallying cry for a lot of the protesters. So with a bunch of photos on the screen, Cyndi tried to turn the concert into an impromptu women’s rally but the audience wasn’t signing loud enough so she cut the song off – then implored everyone to really get into it. Finishing her set off with a gorgeous version of “Not My Father’s Son” that she wrote for the Kinky Boots musical that morphed into “True Colors”. It was quite a stunning ending as the audience gave her a standing ovation in full appreciation of her wonderful show.
With a career spanning over 50 years, Sir Rod Stewart has been (and always will be) one of the most enchanting personalities with one of the most distinctive voices ever in music. Having sold over 100 million albums all across the globe, he is still going strong at the young age of 72. I had the opportunity to see him one time in concert back in the late 80’s – all I can remember is the sexy lyrics and all of the women screaming constantly.
Seriously, was he not the sexiest singer out there – with all of the different women in his life (mostly models), the cool videos, the rumors and every other song lyric about shagging? With the rising of an enormous checkered curtain, Rod Stewart’s backing band set into motion The Bar-Kays tune “Soul Finger”. With the 8-piece band rocking and the three wonderful backup singers doing this one on their own, the audience was up on their feet in anticipation of Rod’s entrance. With a big, open stage set that was reminiscent of the 60’s era big bands, his voice was still wonderful from the very first word of “Infatuation” that he sang. As he moved right into “Some Guys Have All the Luck”, one could see that he was having a blast up there on stage.
Cyndi came back out onto the stage to sing “This Old Heart of Mine” with him and they were doing such a great job you would have thought it was an original duet that they came up with. Slowing it down a bit, the only way I could describe “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright) is to sum it up with one word = perfect. Rod’s vocals, the beautiful harp, keyboard and guitar solos all worked well together for this classic one. 1972 was a long, long time ago but “You Wear it Well” played just as good in 2017 as it did back then. Again, Rod’s vocals were spot on and the added violins put it over the top.
And so it went for another half hour, hit after hit after hit = “Forever Young” was highlighted by dueling drummers; he dedicated “Rhythm of My Heart” to all of the fine folks that have served in the military; “Young Turks” brought back memories of the good old days and “Can’t Stop Me Now” was punctuated by old videos/photos of Rod when he was much, much younger. It’s a beautiful song about the love & support of his dad (“… thanks for the Tartan pride”). His raspy voice made good memories of “Downtown Train” come alive as he sang this one all by himself with no backing vocalists.
With a multitude of chairs being brought out onto the stage, Rod mentioned they would slow it down for a little acoustic set and remembering the one cd of his that I own (Rod Stewart Unplugged) – I was ready for whatever they played. With the harpist leading the way, “The First Cut Is the Deepest” was pure magic – his vocals, the sound of the instruments together and the audience’s reaction was priceless. I honestly think that I saw people crying during “Reason to Believe” while his effortless voice floated through the concert hall. Begging the audience’s pardon if the next one fell apart quickly (“… but if it does – f it”), they breezed through “Broken Arrow” with nary a fault. He showed off his love for the Celtic Football Club during “You’re In My Heart” and then claimed to do a better version of “Have I Told You Lately” than Van Morrison ever did – it was breathtakingly wonderful and when he belted out the last few lines as the band behind him fell silent = he showed that he still has the voice to sing out loud. More dueling guitars and some fantastic keyboard playing highlighted the surprise inclusion of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Rock & Roller”.
As he left the stage for a few minutes, his wonderful band played a spirited “Proud Mary” while the backup singers did all of the vocal work. Coming back for “Hot Legs”, he showed off his still vibrant soccer skills by kicking about twenty soccer balls into the fans while shouting out all of the lyrics. His disco-era hit “Do You Think I’m Sexy” was just as sexy tonight as it was many moons ago and Rod seemed to be having the time of his life. That massive curtain went up to hide the band for a few seconds but fell quickly as the played a two-song encore of “Maggie May” and Guy Lombardo’s “Enjoy Yourself”. After the first few notes of “Maggie”, Rod let the audience sing a couple of lines before he joined in and then the last one ended an exquisite night of Rod Stewart’s favorite tunes.
With one of the best concerts so far this year, Cyndi Lauper and Rod Stewart treated the music fans at the Verizon Theatre to a splendid show. Both performers went above and beyond any expectations while the backing musicians & singers were fantastic. Not sure how many more tour cycles these two will get to do but if you have the chance – do yourself a favor and go see them!!!!!!