Wednesday, June 20, 2018 | 2 a.m.
With Elton John departed to begin his retirement tour and Mariah Carey returning next month, the Colosseum at Caesars Palace is going through some change. But there’s more than one rock-solid headliner show still running smoothly for its abundantly affectionate audience at this venue, and that was proven on June 15 with the return of Rod Stewart.
The 73-year-old superstar exploded onto the stage in swanky black and gold Friday night after his powerhouse 12-piece band and backups got the crowd going with the Bar-Kays’ funky classic, “Soul Finger.” Stewart wasted no time or scream of adulation, ripping right into ’80s hit “Infatuation” and dashing out some endearingly silly dance moves. Then he thanked everyone for coming to his 137th show at the Colosseum, promised he would stick mostly to the hits but warned he wanted to perform two tracks from his upcoming 30th studio album “Blood Red Roses,” then demanded everyone keep dancing while he covered Sam Cooke’s “Having a Party.” And dance they did.
Those two new songs aren’t entirely new. First up was “There’s a Hole in My Heart,” a legitimately new creation all about a bachelor who’s lost his way when he loses his girl. It was upbeat, soulful and a little doo-wop-ish. Later in the show, when Stewart had donned an electric red suit for an acoustic set at the front of the stage, he performed the heart-wrenching 1922 rebellion hymn “Grace,” which tells the story of Irish artist Grace Gifford, who married her fiancé Joseph Plunkett hours before he was executed for his leadership role in the Easter Rising, a failed insurrection in 1916. It looks like that rendition will be on the new album, too.
Stewart’s unmistakably raspy, warmly emotive vocals took over during this song and this part of his show, which also included the Cat Stevens-penned hit “The First cut is the Deepest” and Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately.” It also showcased Stewart’s ability to take well-known and well-worn songs and truly make them his own.
If that wasn’t the musical and emotional high point of the evening, perhaps it was Stewart’s jaunt through the audience during “Maggie May” or the soccer-specific version of “Rhythm of My Heart.” Whether crooning, shuffling across the stage or booting soccer balls into the seats, Stewart never lacked energy, and his fans returned the intensity. You should have seen these folks fighting for those balls.
Fortunately for the Colosseum, Rod the Mod isn’t going anywhere. New dates were just announced for November and early December and those tickets are on sale June 22, when he takes the stage again.
“Rod Stewart: The Hits” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. June 22, 29 and 30 at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace (3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 866-320-9763) and more information can be found at thecolosseum.com.