Rod Stewart Debuts New Music at Tiny Troubadour Show: Concert Review

John Shearer/ Invision
The folksy rocker sets aside the standards for now as he performs original songs from his new album for the first time.

Do you think I'm sexy? With the answer so clear-cut, surely Rod Stewart never even thought to ask the question.

Stewart, 68, made his way from his four-acre estate down the road in Beverly Park on Thursday night to the Troubadour in West Hollywood, where he did a free show for a couple hundred fans inside the intimate club on Santa Monica Boulevard. (The concert, in support of his forthcoming Capitol Records album, Time, was taped for viewing on Vevo and YouTube starting Saturday.)

"We're playing the Troubadour instead of the Staples Center, now you know why," he said, explaining the setup. "But this is more fun, isn't it?"

Check it out and you'll note that Stewart's pipes remain in fine form. His raspy, soulful voice never wavered during this too-brief 50-minute set (his first gig ever at the Troubadour), which featured six heartfelt songs from the new record as well as the Stewart staples "Forever Young," "Rhythm of My Heart," "You Wear It Well" and "Have I Told You Lately."

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The pelvis, too, was well-oiled, with the confident crooner effortlessly moving about the crowded stage (at times packed with 13 others, including three female backing vocalists, a harpist and violinist J'Anna Jacoby) while caressing the microphone, winking at the ladies and opening a button, then two, on a vertically striped shirt employed unnecessarily to hide a nonexistent potbelly.

Meanwhile, a breeze from somewhere made that famous coiffure of his wisp ever so wonderfully.

"A little old-fashioned but that's all right," Stewart sang.

Time, out May 7, spans the full spectrum of love, from the first blush of romance to the bitterness of divorce. Save for a cover of Tom Waits' "Picture in a Frame" (sadly missing from this show), the Londoner wrote all the songs on his 28th studio album, his first with original material since 2001's Human. Of course, he's been busy doing standards/covers and selling tens of million of albums via his American Songbook series and the October release of Merry Christmas, Baby.

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Thursday night's most earnest moment came on "Brighton Beach," a song about the then-teenage troubadour falling in love for the first time. That resulted in Stewart's first daughter, who was put up for adoption immediately after her birth. The melancholy "It's Over" was written and sung by a man twice divorced.

(Stewart's third wife, Penny, whom he has been with for 13 years, watched the show from the floor, not above in the VIP section, and had a lot of fun. Also in attendance: seven of Stewart's children, including his son Sean with Adrienne Maloof, a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills, and daughter Kimberly with Harry Styles of One Direction).

"I'm singing my ass off, and they're up there textin'," he said of his kids early in the show.

The two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, who begins a tour of Europe in June, referenced Penny as his inspiration when he introduced the boisterous "Sexual Religion," which references "the power of a woman and the weakness of a man." And "Can't Stop Me Now," about making it in the music business, was a patented Stewart Celtic romp, this one dedicated to his late dad.

"I still got it, right?" he posed after rising from his seat at the conclusion of the touching "Have I Told You Lately."

Another question that needn't have been asked.

Set List:

Can't Stop Me Now
Forever Young
It's Over
Rhythm of My Heart
Finest Woman
You Wear It Well
She Makes Me Happy
Have I Told You Lately
Brighton Beach
Sexual Religion


Can't Stop Me Now (for taping purposes)

Twitter: @THRMusic