Rod Stewart and Carlos Santana showed Friday in St. Louis that once can never be too old to rock. As unlikely a duo as you will find the two paired up for “The Voice, The Guitar, The Songs” Tour that hit Scottrade Center in St. Louis Friday for the 6th date of an 18 city tour that will wind up August 20.
The first thought when someone thinks of Rod Stewart is not usually Carlos Santana. Though, to be fair, Stewart has played with some pretty amazing guitarists himself in Jeff Beck, Ronnie Wood and St. Louis’ own Billy Peek (Whom Stewart brought onstage to perform a version of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Rock 'n Roller”). But Carlos Santana’s Latin based guitar technique is in a stratosphere all his own.
Performing a 75 minute full set of his own, starting with “Everybody’s Everything” before fretting through “Mozambique” to get to a local flavor of “St. Louis Blues”, Santana’s amazing fretwork had fans dancing all over Scottrade Center.
Sure, he performed his crowd pleasing hits “Smooth” and “Oye Como Va” but also dug deep with “BMW” and his latest single “La Flaca”.
He answered the obvious question of “Why the two of them for this tour?” with an answer of simply “We both play black music for white people”, naming off artists like Sam Cooke, Etta James and “of course The Beatles and Rolling Stones”.
In fact, Santana paid tribute to an icon when he called up St. Louis’ Ronald Isley (of The Isley Brothers fame) to the stage. Isley, caught off guard at the honest impromptu request, hummed and sang “I don’t know what I am doing” before finding his groove and singing parts of “Who’s That Lady” and “It’s Your Thing” to a thunderous applause.
Santana also brought his wife (Cindy Blackman-Santana) in to show off her intense drumming skills for “Corazon Espinado” and an impressive solo with longtime bassist Benny Rietveld.
Santana held court over a captive audience mesmerized by his virtuosity on the axe and set the bar very high for Stewart to attain.
Stewart’s set (his first in St. Louis since 2007) was filled with hit after hit in a lighthearted and warm set showed off his youthful demeanor and his still powerful vocals.
At 69 Stewart can’t always hit the high notes (something he apologized for) but, frankly if he hadn’t mentioned it no one would have cared. He easily sang and danced through numbers such as “Some Guys Have All the Luck” and “Infatuation”.
He also gave props to his old band the Faces with “Stay With Me” and brought Santana back on stage for the Etta James classic “I’d Rather Go Blind”. Stewarts backing band, a large 10 piece that includes several female singers who were also multi-talented instrumentalists, was very tight and a perfect blend for Stewart’s showmanship.
Stewart’s youthfulness was apparent, especially when he kicked several dozen autographed soccer balls deep into the crowd (a show staple). He effortlessly kicked several 50 rows back and nearly in the upper deck.
Being the 70th anniversary of D-Day he dedicated “Rhythm of My Heart” to the Allied invasion forces and performed the song while video of the invasion played on the giant screen behind him.
His set was filled with a good portion of humility, sexy attitudes and humor as he poked fun at himself with jabs like “I’m having a bad hair day and I can’t do a thing with it”, and mentioning how he has retired from the newborn business with his latest child, a 3 year old – his 8th overall.
He ended his show by declaring it was time to get silly with “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”, complete with a quote of his on the screen from Rolling Stone: “I don’t want to be singing “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” when I am 50 and be a parody of myself.”
The comedy was nice and added a personal touch, but it was the music that put his performance over the top. And with a combo of Santana and Stewart, how can anyone expect anything less?
Rod Stewart Setlist:
Having a Party (Sam Cooke cover)
You Wear it Well
Some Guys Have All the Luck (The Persuaders cover)
Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)
Stay With Me (Faces song)
Rhythm of My Heart
I’d Rather Go Blind (Etta James cover with Carlos Santana)
The First Cut is the Deepest (Cat Stevens cover)
Reason to Believe (Tim Hardin cover)
Have I Told You Lately (Can Morrison cover)
Sweet Little Rock 'n Roller (Chuck Berry Cover with Billy Peek)
Proud Mary (Credence Clearwater Revival cover)
You’re in My Heart (The Final Acclaim)
Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?