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Rod Stewart, rock phoenix, rises from ashes


Has rock and roll ever seen a comeback quite as astonishing as Rod Stewart's?

A little more than a decade ago, he was the very definition of a rock dinosaur, a once-great singer who had eagerly sold his soul for celebrity.

He was, as his many detractors happily pointed out, a joke.

Yet now, it's as if none of that ever happened. As he demonstrated before a sellout crowd at the Merriweather Post Pavilion last night, Rod Stewart is currently at the height of his powers.

It isn't just that his voice is as strong as it has ever been, or that he has a great band and a songbook most stars would kill for; it isn't even that he puts on a more energetic show than he did 20 years ago. It's all those things, and more.

Because what Rod Stewart has always done better than any English singer of his generation is capture both the joy and heartbreak of soul singing, and those were the qualities that carried yesterday's show.

Consequently, there was no coasting on his part. It didn't matter whether a song was as recent as "The Motown Song" (his current single) or as ancient as "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" (his first single), Stewart sang them all as if he, not the fans, was the one to please.

All of which helped make even the most familiar songs sound fresh again.

Whether it was his whiskey growl underscoring the regret of "Maggie May" or the soulful inflections he slipped into "Tonight's the Night," Stewart made his songs matter onstage. And really, isn't that what a rock star is supposed to do?

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