REVIEW: What a shame it had to end, and an even bigger shame it had to end the way it did: a show of spectacular musical fireworks ending in bewilderment.
After two hours of charming and flirting, Rod Stewart departed the Mission Estate stage on Saturday without an apparent goodbye.
And so a crowd that waited in the rain for hours for his arrival stood baffled in the dark, unsure if an often magical evening was all over.
Up until then it had been a perfect love affair, with the love going both ways, as Stewart ran, skipped, toe-tapped and twisted his way through his massive songbook.
Chilled by rain bursts, the crowd could have been hard to win over, but by the second song – Tonight's the Night – Stewart had several thousand adoring backing vocalists, at times handing his fans the singing duties altogether.
At 67, Rockin' Rod still had the star factor he secured 40 years ago, when he was one of the hottest-selling artists worldwide.
A shaggy-haired showman, he still surrounds himself with an array of beautiful women, with possibly the most leggy and stylishly-dressed horn section and backup singers in the business.
His cracked and sandpapered lead vocals have held up through the decades – still capable of getting across the acoustic emotion of First Cut is the Deepest, I Don't Want to Talk About It and a lovely Handbags and Gladrags, now better know as the theme from the television series The Office.
Vocal cracks were a little wider in Tonight's the Night, and he sounded a wee bit worn on You Wear it Well, but it would have been niggardly to feel shortchanged as Stewart gave it full throttle for a touch short of two hours.
His stage patter was witty and wicked, his outfits outrageously colourful, his work with the microphone athletic.
He showed photos of his family (all wearing Celtic football jerseys) on the big screen, and belted dozens of footballs into the crowd during Hot Legs.
And he was generous. The song list was longer than it had been on earlier dates on tour as it veered from rock to soul to pop and an acoustic set, with Handbags and Gladrags and a cover of the Bonnie Tyler hit It's a Heartache among new additions.
Sailing and Do Ya Think I'm Sexy capped off the night – the latter performed in front of a video screen showing a 1970s quote from Rolling Stone: "I don't want to be singing Do Ya Think I'm Sexy at 50 and become a parody of myself."
Stewart has somehow avoided parody. It's as if he and his songs are immune to the passage of time. It still would have been nice if he'd found time to say goodnight, though.
- © Fairfax NZ News