You can guess what the last song will be, but not that it will begin with a Rolling Stone quote displayed on the massive video screen:
“I don’t want to be singing ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’ at 50 and become a parody of myself.”
Yet here we are in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, with the 68-year-old Rod Stewart in peach-colored trousers, flanked by 18 musicians (predominately women in short skirts and high heels) along the lip of the stage, with hundreds of balloons dropping from the ceiling in celebration of the once-and-future sex god.
But if you think about it, the quote wasn’t entirely ironic. He’s still singing “Sexy,” but he’s not a self-parody.
As the evening to that point proved, Stewart really is still that guy who is not you or me. He’s that other guy in “Some Guys Have All the Luck,” living the dream but not taking himself too seriously.
He’s just older, that’s all. And he doesn’t try to hide it.
The hi-def video screens can be unflinching in close-ups, but Stewart offers the upper balcony more live-time shots than any of his younger Colosseum roommates. His present-day image is even juxtaposed with 1970s album covers, inviting direct comparison.
But the screen shots tend to be vertical, head to toe, because you need to see he’s still got the dancin’ feet and keeps those hips in motion inside that silver suit.
Stewart is the only star in the Colosseum’s current rotation of stars who doesn’t promise exclusive, only-in-Vegas content. The set list is cherry-picked from longer shows he does on the road. And, he told the audience on his opening night last week, “We brought our stage all the way over from Europe.”
The new stage is sleeker and looks less like a late-night talk show. Don’t ask if we really need to see a saxophone solo on nine separate screens. We’re getting it get it anyway, thanks to six pop-up slabs that display video in front of the permanent screens.
The net effect is more in keeping with other Colosseum spectaculars, even if Stewart vowed “There’ll be no clowns on the stage, or fountains or dwarves. This is a rock ’n’ roll show.”
You could argue that. But like the self-parody thing, it’s not worth your breath. The set list, at least on this opening night of the current stint, went deeper into his early career than last year’s show.
It’s the first time I’ve heard the Faces favorite “Stay With Me” at the Colosseum. And the blues standard “I’d Rather Go Blind,” as covered by the Faces, was for the “old-timers,” he said, pushing the singer to his knees to actually plead “Baby, baby, baby.”
If more of the show was the easy-going victory lap we’re now used to, Stewart at least seems to care about protecting his legacy and playing the party host to make sure everyone has a good time.
Early on, he didn’t seem to think the crowd was loud enough. But he vowed, “We’ll get you in the end, when we kick the footballs out.”
Rock ’n’ soul oldies such as “Sweet Little Rock Rock ’n’ Roller” — sung from the aisles so everyone could whip out their camera phones — paced signature crowd-pleasers. He introduced “Have I Told You Lately” as “the most popular song ever sung at weddings since weddings were invented.”
The large band proved there is no song that can’t be overarranged, and sometimes overwhelmed a voice that’s become more fragile with age. But the ensemble provides good cover for a star who disappears three times, a lot for a 95-minute show. Don’t know if he’s taking hits off an oxygen tank or merely changing clothes while Di Reed belts “Proud Mary” without him.
But one break at least offered the pleasant surprise of his 26-year-old daughter Ruby singing her original, “Just One More Day.”
The family tie, plus the autobiographical “Can’t Stop Me Now” from this year’s “Time” album, touched upon the more resonant look back at the singer’s life explored in the album and recent autobiography.
But if Stewart was right in suggesting Las Vegas audiences just want to share his contagious good mood and wait for the soccer balls, he wasn’t going to disappoint them. Two shots made the middle balcony and one reached the upper nose-bleed section during “Hot Legs.”
After all, this is a guy who’s made a deep career of being shallow.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Wednesday (also Nov. 20, 23, 24)
Colosseum at Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South