Rod Stewart at Hard Rock Tampa: An intimate show worthy of Vegas

Live Review

Rod Stewart. Photo by Chyrisse.

By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa

Live Review: Rod Stewart – Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Tampa, Florida – February 16, 2023

Rod Stewart. Photo by Chyrisse.

Rock At Night was lucky to see Rod Stewart during a stop on a short tour of  Florida and Puerto Rico. Unlike the usual arena show, the event was held at the Seminole Hard Rock-Tampa which holds approximately 1,500 people. And, yes, it was a sold-out show. The venue seems to be attracting big names who favor intimate shows. Last year, Sting appeared at the venue.

With what seemed like a Vegas show, Stewart had a band consisting of 10-12 people on stage with him playing instruments.  We are talking full-blown accompaniment, which included backup singers/dancers who performed double-duty on violins, keys, and even a harp. The band was very impressive and provided high-quality support to the legend. At 78, Stewart’s voice was very impressive—as was his energy level as he shook his rump, and danced around the stage.  Having seen him in the 1980s, his voice has not faltered with time, and he appeared trim and fit, unlike many of his contemporaries (including the audience, I might add).

The evening’s set consisted of many Top 40 hits dated between the 70s and 80s, much to the chagrin of many, who sang along with every note.  Stewart paid homage to Tina Turner (“we shared a suite in the Plaza Hotel in Nice—and nothing happened”) by performing “It Takes Two” with a backup singer.

With his perfect raspy voice, he performed Bonnie Tyler’s “It’s a Heartache.” With a touch of fiddles toward the end, the song took on a country flavor.

Rod Stewart. Photo by Chyrisse.

Stewart appeared to be having a ball, as ladies screamed (although no bras were flying). He declared, “All you lucky people! You can keep us here as long as you want.”

When he performed “Forever Young,” dozens of cell phones were raised filming, and many of the patrons on the ground floor stood and swayed. A drum solo and tap-dancing interlude provided Stewart a chance to dash backstage before returning to sing “The First Cut is the Deepest,” which featured violins and a harp.

Stewart mused, “This shirt is 27 years old. I’ve got two grandchildren on the way. This has nothing to do with the next song.” He began singing the introduction of “Maggie May” a capella, as a few female screams pierced the air. As the song gained tempo, many in the audience were dancing and singing in unison, giving the concert a “pub feel” rather than being in a venue the size of a high school gymnasium.

Rod Stewart. Photo by Chyrisse.

A photo of Christine McVie flashed on a stage screen as Stewart sang the moving Etta James song, “I’d Rather Go Blind.” While the band continued playing, he ducked off stage and returned wearing a bright yellow jacket and royal blue shirt.  He reminded the audience that his attire shared the same colors as the Ukrainian flag and dedicated the anti-war song “Rhythm of My Heart” to President Zelenskyy and the Ukraine.

While the band and female singers performed “I’m Every Woman” he changed into yet another jacket, this one appearing multi-colored and sequined.

The last portion of the concert was performed while seated and contained more socially-conscious songs. Stewart performed acoustic versions of “People Get Ready” which was originally recorded by Curtis Mayfield and covered by Stewart and Jeff Beck in 1985. The song group ended with “The Killing of Georgie”which tells the story of a gay man who was killed in New York City.

The mood turned to romance with “Tonight’s the Night,” “Have I Told You Lately,” and everyone’s favorite, “Do Ya’ Think I’m Sexy?”

Overall, the evening couldn’t be more perfect. The smaller venue with its intimate setting felt like a private concert. The quality of the show rivaled any Vegas act—and Rod Stewart (who obviously doesn’t need the cash), gifted his fans with a performance of all our favorite hits. One couldn’t ask for more.



**Read more in our upcoming print issue.


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Chyrisse Tabone, Ph.D.
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