Rod Stewart kicked off his North American summer tour at the Hollywood Bowl this week with special guest Cyndi Lauper, bringing flashy outfits, sage wisdom, and nostalgic tunes to the soldout crowd.
Lauper opened the evening by working through a few of her greatest hits before Stewart dove into his extensive catalog. The newly-knighted rocker also took some time to share tips to those in the audience who constantly worry about their day-to-day struggles. “Enjoy yourselves,” he said. “It’s later than you think.”
Here were a few other stand-out moments from the evening.
1. Girls Just Want to Have Fundamental Rights
One of Lauper’s greatest hits remains her 1983 cover of Robert Hazard’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” which she initially reimagined as an empowering anthem for young women. On stage, she shared the connection the song has to today’s women’s movement, recalling a young girl she saw at the Women’s March holding a sign that said “Girls Just Want to Have Fundamental Rights.” She also recounted how much the recent march meant to her given the resistance she faced in the 1980s for being an outspoken feminist.
“I was so grateful because I remember in the ‘80s when I used to do interviews and it wasn’t very popular to say anything about feminism,” she explained. “Reporters would say to me, ‘What are you some kind of feminist?’ And I’d look at them and say, ‘Why? You got a problem with that?’ I used to get it from everybody: What are you doing? Don’t you want to be popular? I just wanted to be truthful. If I’m not concerned about my own civil liberties, who will be?”
2. The Ballads
The concert was (mostly) one big party from start to finish. But some of the best moments came when Lauper and Stewart slowed things down. Lauper offered up soulful renditions of “All Through the Night,” “Time After Time,” and “True Colors,” showing off the full range of her voice and enduring emotionality of her work. Meanwhile, Stewart took a break during his set to do a seated acoustic portion, with classics “The First Cut Is the Deepest” and “Have I Told You Lately.” The segment also gave his backing band and accompanying string section more time to shine.
3. Forever Young
Stewart’s rendition of his beloved 1988 anthem was a perfect centerpiece to the evening, possessing all the buoyant energy, hope, and eternal youth it did when it was first released. Working through the first half of the song in a flashy silver suit before changing into a flow-y, rocker chic deep-v neck blouse, Stewart turned the performance into a true communal experience, holding out the microphone for the audience to sing along. Stewart introduced a wilder visual component to the song as well, underscoring the tune with backing imagery of elephants and zebras.
4. Gotta Have Heart
Matters of the heart are a favorite subject of Stewart’s but he shook things up with two uniquely romantic tunes. First, he offered up a surprise — a new song, “Hole in My Heart,” off his upcoming album Blood Red Roses. “This song is about when I was in my 20s and I was a real ponce,” Stewart said, adding, “You know when your girlfriend leaves you and you can’t cook, you’re f—ked.”
Stewart also paid tribute to his new title of “Sir,” adding a bagpipe intro to the Scottish influenced “Rhythm of My Heart” while singing to footage of the ceremony in which he was knighted by Prince William. “I’m a knight of the realm I’ll have it known,” he remarked. “It made me very proud, very proud. Doesn’t make much difference to your life though. It does mean I can drive my car down the bicycle lanes in London and that’s about it.”
5. Bringing sexy back
Later, Stewart capitalized on his longtime image as a sex symbol by growling his way through the iconic “Maggie May.” Later, he sang “Stay With Me,” the 1971 track he recorded with supergroup Faces, and his 1978 hit “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” turning the Bowl into a raucous dance party with Stewart grooving onstage in a cheetah print jacket.
Rod Stewart Set List
Having a Party
Some Guys Have All the Luck
Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright)
Rollin’ and Tumblin’ (Hambone Willie Newbern cover) (with Cyndi Lauper) You Wear It Well
Rhythm of My Heart
Hole in My Heart
I’d Rather Go Blind
The Killing of Georgie (Part I and II)
You’re in My Heart
The First Cut Is the Deepest
I Don’t Want to Talk About It
Have I Told You Lately
Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?
Stay With Me
Cyndi Lauper’s Setlist
I Drove All Night
All Through the Night
(Jules Shear cover)
The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough
You Don’t Know
Money Changes Everything
(The Brains cover)
Time After Time
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Not My Father’s Son