“Were finally here,” Rod Stewart told the 7,000-plus who came out for his long-delayed Greensboro tour stop on Thursday night. Eighteen months, to be precise, since his show was announced, canceled, delayed and then finally realized, though the final interruption came with the sincerest of reasons. Stewart wanted this tour to coincide with the release of his first new album of selfpenned material, Time, in more than 20 years.
It’s not just a new album, per se; it represents Stewart’s triumph over writer’s block, among the most damning and debilitating conditions a creative type could endure. It left Stewart lost in the pop-standards wilderness for all of the 2000s, but on the positive, it led him to a lengthy Vegas residency where he honed his stage show’s musicality to a razor’s edge, though it also apparently convinced him that his audience cares as much as he does about viral YouTube vids that have already been debunked as fake.
Though it’s not as if every twenty- or thirtysomething hasn’t had to explain to his or her parents that the impossible DIY waterslide video was actually a subversive Microsoft campaign. That Rod’s crowd was almost entirely made up of moms and dads was completely apropos in this case, though Rod’s daughter Ruby, who was swindled into performing during one of his numerous wardrobe changes, flopped on her due diligence.
His paternal gullibility aside, Rod’s music is remains beyond reproach. The covers-made-personal trope was strong, with Isley Brothers, Tom Waits, Sam Cooke and a simply gorgeous rendering of Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut is the Deepest” mingling perfectly into “Tonight’s the Night” and the soccer-ball bonanza “Hot Legs.” His sentimentality can still make suckers of us all, though. Stacked side by side against its generational counterpart, fun.’s “We Are Young,” the feeling of those 7,000 moms and dads singing the money line from “Young Turks” wins every day. Even the new tunes, “Brighton Beach” and “Can’t Stop Me Now,” were worthy of the two decades of hand-wringing needed to get them out there, and the 18 months it took to get Rod here.