From the moment the legendary rocker strolled on stage on Friday night – smart in red jacket and tie – and launched into This Old Heart of Mine, the excited audience enveloped him in love.
Cheers greeted every bit of nifty footwork and banter with the audience as he criss-crossed the stage to pay respects to both sides of a packed-out crowd dotted with tartan, leopard-print and look-alike hairdos.
And it was mutual appreciation from the man marking 49 years in music, with a mix of songs from recent chart-topping album Time – his first new material in nearly 20 years – and those old favourites like Baby Jane and Sailing that had people dancing and swaying.
“Let’s enjoy ourselves!” he said as the jacket came off and his fans needed no encouragement. “You’re a lively crowd, have you had a drink or two?” he asked. “Why not!”
He’s 68 now but this was energetic stuff; though less so as the evening wore on. Helping out those trademark throaty vocals was a classy band of musicians and powerful female vocalists who were given individual moments in the spotlight during Rod’s off-stage changes into a gold suit then a bright blue paisley-pattern jacket over a yellow shirt.
There were personal touches: when he introduced daughter Ruby who came on stage to sing one of her own compositions; showed us a brief montage of favourite video clips; and, having been born after the war – “the Second World War!” he reminded us – paid homage to the boys “on the front line” with a touching The Rhythm Of My Heart.
And the Celtic fan asked us about football: “It’s just a matter of time,” he assured us as he heard the collective moan.
“And money, which is what it’s come to now.”
More expert footwork was on show when – in a nice touch – Rod threw then booted out lots of signed footballs for the crowd, sending people scrambling and stretching as the balls soared far across the auditorium. He should play for Newcastle.
For their part, the fans threw flowers on stage during crowd-pleasers such as Tonight’s The Night, The First Cut is the Deepest and I Don’t Want To Talk About It.
Rod knows how to put on a show and this was a stylish one, the backdrop of big screen images changing from psychedelic colours through mono footage, including scenes of ships during the stirring rendition of Sailing, to the final beautiful cowboy country scenes, like a Marlboro advert, as Rod donned a cowboy hat, which suited him no end, and slowed down the tempo with a moving Auld Lang Syne as giant balloons tumbled into the auditorium.
“I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did,” signed-off the likeable Rod as a silvery curtain descended around him and the answering popping of balloons came like a gun salute to a feel-good night.