Review | Rod Stewart at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Showman Brings Vegas Values to Classic Songbook

Ever the showman, Rod Stewart brought a revue featuring six talented bandmembers who doubled as dancing showgirls to the Santa Barbara Bowl on Saturday night. Coming off a gig at the Hollywood Bowl on Friday that saw him reuniting with former bandmate Jeff Beck, Stewart was clearly well prepared for his upcoming residency at Caesar’s Palace and a subsequent November tour of the U.K. No expense was spared either on costumes or digital videography. For 90 minutes, Stewart and his squad of blondes changed outfits, danced around, and generally rocked the house. 

The set list kept the hits coming, featuring familiar numbers like “Tonight’s the Night,” “The First Cut Is the Deepest,” and “Maggie May.” Graciously aware that he was returning to the Santa Barbara Bowl for the second time in as many years, Stewart also played some older songs that were not on the program last time around. Fans of the Faces got a juicy “Ooh La La,” and aficionados of his hard-rocking early solo career heard two of that period’s best, “Every Picture Tells a Story” and the jazz-inflected Temptations cover “(I Know) I’m Losing You.” Using time-honored techniques to catch occasional breathers, such as ceding the spotlight to three of his female backup singers for a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way,” Stewart paced himself effectively while remaining true to the musical era his fans had come out to relive.

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