A chat with Rod Stewart is like following the bouncing ball.
The subjects bound from the U.K. to Ukraine, Australia and New Zealand, to L.A. and back to the Strip, where Sir Rod has been superstar headliner for a dozen years.
It’s a soccer ball (or, football), naturally for Stewart, forever an avid backer of the Celtic Football Club of Scotland. He kicks it up on his tour dates, including his recent trips Down Under. He scores in his Colosseum shows at Caesars Palace, where he returned over the weekend and is back Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and Monday. All times 7:30 p.m.
On the horizon, the 78-year-old Stewart will keep his feet moving with a U.K. tour covering June and July, then a U.S.-Canada series starting in Reno on July 29. Then he’s bouncing to Brazil in late July through August, before returning to Caesars Palace in November.
What Stewart is not kicking, in fact, are actual soccer balls at the Colosseum. We start with that topic with the king of the knight club at Caesars:
He’s not booting soccer balls into the audience, for now: Fracases have often broken out, at the Colosseum and on tour, for a ball signed by Stewart.
“Sometimes, I let the girls do it because they’re not going to hurt anybody. But, you know, I got one or two lawsuits,” Stewart said. “In fact, when I got to Hollywood Bowl last year, a dear friend who came all the way over to see me got smashed in the face with a ball. It broke his glasses. He’s still having operations. It was very upsetting for both of us. I said, ‘You’ve got to keep your eye on the ball in all sports, Mate.’”
— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) May 10, 2023
He pays tribute to Ukraine in his current stage show. Stewart dons a beautiful blue-and-yellow suit, in the colors of the Ukrainian flag, for “Rhythm of My Heart,” dedicated to the war-strafed country. Stewart houses a family of refugees, and has been performing the number since last fall.
“When the war broke out, me and my two nephews had four trucks filled up with, paper products, towels, water, food, all the stuff you need,” Stewart said. “They drove from where I live in England, all the way up to the border, dropped all the stuff off. Then they brought about a thousand refugees from the border to Berlin. Then I really got involved, I rented a house around where I live and I’ve got a whole family living there. I pay their expenses. I’m just waiting for the Ukrainian offensive to stop this guy, we can’t let him win. It’s 1939, all over again.”
— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) May 6, 2023
Stewart is supporting the family of seven for a year. He has also provided jobs for two other refugees on his estate in Essex, and might build another house so he can take in a second family.
His wife, Penny Lancaster, was on security detail at the coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla. “My wife actually was working, she’s a part-time police constable,” Stewart said. “So, we know Charles quite well. She got loads of photos of her standing in line with the coronation coach.”
He says, “I love the royal family,” as one would expect. “I think it could be trimmed down a bit, but I think Charles is a lovely guy, the queen was always so nice to me, which is why I love them. I’m a knight, so of course I’m going to support them.”
He says he keeps spry by “surviving” off his band’s energy. “I love to perform, and have always kept myself fit because I’ve always played soccer,” Stewart said. “I work out three times a week to train, and I’ve been doing that over the last 35 years. I do’t smoke, I have a drink now and then, but otherwise I work the muscles in my legs. My dad said, ‘Keep your legs strong, all your life, and you’ll always be mobile.’” That’s been very important.
— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) May 6, 2023
He’s performed more shows in Las Vegas than any other locale. Stewart noted the figure as 182 in Friday’s performance.
Asked if he ever anticipated being so closely aligned with Las Vegas, he said, “Never in a million years. I remember when Elvis was playing there, or the supper-club was eating while a show was going on. I thought, that’s not for me.”
He’s totally comfortable at the Colosseum. “I’m in what I feel is the best arena in the world to see any act,” Stewart said. “There isn’t a bad seat, the acoustics are great, it is comfortable — sometimes it’s too comfortable (laughs). But they are lovely people, and they look after me so well.”
He’s watched Vegas grow into an international destination over the course of his career. “I used to do shows there in the early ’70s, the first one with the Faces 1972 at the Convention Center. I don’t remember it — it was a band of drinkers, Mate!” Stewart said. “But I fly over the city now, and I have noticed how Vegas has spread so big, big housing developments and growth. It is an amazing place.”
Cool Hang Alert
Stewart mentioned Elvis. So will we. Pete Vallee continues his Big Elvis show at Harrah’s Piano Bar. The column fave plays 2 p.m., 3:30 and 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednsdays and Fridays. Vallee has been kicking it up as The King for a quarter century. No cover. Be prepared to sing along.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.