Rod Stewart – electrocuted hamster?
It is well known that journalism is not an easy profession. You are often required to cross frigid tundras wearing only a t-shirt and shorts, to wrestle with ferocious polar bears and hostile Eskimos and for what – an interview with a Knesset member.
Other times – and this is my subject this week – you find yourself, regardless of previously made plans or your mental state, in London, reviewing a Rod Stewart concert.
For the sake of historical accuracy it has to be said that this was not the first time I had seen Mr. Stewart. The first time was in 1983, I believe it was at Ramat Gan Stadium. It was pre-MTV, pre-video clips and pre-iPod, which also enables the viewing of videos (for older readers, it’s like a TV that shrank in the wash).
Call me nostalgic, but think about this: When I went to the concert then, I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea what he looked like, how he moved or spoke. The only indication I had was the promotional poster in the local entertainment weekly 'Lahiton'. It was clear then that his hairdo was inspired by what happens to a hamster after he's electrocuted.
As we sat on the stadium grass waiting for him, we only knew we loved his songs. Everything else was a great big mystery. As much as I like technology, there is nothing like the excitement you feel at the concert of a singer you like.
The second revelation from that unforgettable concert is that we don't really know all the lyrics of the songs to which we know the lyrics. The thousands of people in the audience stood there on the grass singing "Hot Legs, you can la-la-la. Hot Legs, I know, tra la la," and so on.
Mr. Stewart meantime jumped around the stage obviously ecstatic, telling us in his undecipherable Scottish accent that the song "You're in my heart" was a song he wrote for his favorite soccer team.
Twenty years later I returned to the scene of the crime. I should explain before I go on regarding Rod Stewart: He's older. To be exact, on January 10, Mr. Stewart will mark his 61st birthday. This means he will be entitled to discounts on public transport and a range of senior citizen benefits from his HMO.
Rock-and-roll for the young
Everyone knows that rock-and-roll is for the young. During my exhaustive research for this column, I read several music reviews in a number of newspapers. Turns out that in order to succeed in this industry, you have to belong to something called 'the club scene'. This is a group of hip clubs where young, dynamic bands perform for an audience that numbers, well, the drummer's mother.
Mr. Stewart, on the other hand, had to make do with only 15,000 people who crushed into Earl's Court with a beer in one hand and a plastic tube to their catheter in the other.
Next to me sat two charming British matrons in their sixties, who were tightly clutching their elegant purses and looking anxiously around them at the crowd. They had traveled by train from the town of Bath, missing out on their weekly bingo tournament in the local church.
They asked me if I liked Rod Stewart. "No," I wanted to reply. "I flew all the way here from Tel Aviv just to take up space."
But they looked so frightened, that instead, I tried to reassure them that the rest of the audience is not all that much younger than them.
"That's nice of you to say, dearie," said one. "We are just not used to events like this. OOOOH!!! OOOOOH!!!YAHHHH!!!
At just that moment, she saw Rod, and the two of them were up on their feet screaming and if not for my repeated pleas, they would have removed their bras and thrown them up on stage.
Not a day over 60
In their defense, it has to be said that Mr. Stewart doesn't look his age. Actually, he doesn't look a day over 60. He arrived on stage wearing black jeans, a black shirt and white velvet jacket with gold embroidery, a white silk scarf that reached to his knees and from the first glance, it was clear that the hamster had not recovered.
It was wonderful! He acted like a total idiot and didn't think for a moment that, before breaking into his rendition of 'Hot Legs' he needed to talk to us about starvation in Africa.
Instead he no doubt reasoned that if he has a good time, so will the audience. And if not, at least he's still got the hamster.
He also had the best back-up band I'd ever seen. There was a gorgeous blonde with great legs on sax, and from my vantage point I could see that she had the right kind of lungs for a wind instrument. The rest of the band included three knockout black backup singers, a sultry brunette violinist and a blue-eyed cellist, also stunning.
In short, I am sure that job interviews conducted by Mr. Stewart were particularly thorough and demanded musical excellence from applicants.
The concert was 2.5 hours of pure pleasure. After about an hour and a half I discovered something wonderful about myself: The music I like today is the music I hated as a teen.
When I was a pimply 17-year-old youth with long hair, I only listened to heavy metal rock bands with names like ‘Masturbating Snakes of Southampton' or 'Alice Cooper and the Asthma Sufferers' (Mr. Cooper earned my eternal admiration when he ate the head of a live bat in the middle of a concert. If you don't believe me, look it up in Google.)
Then, people like Rod Stewart were too happy and too colorful. Their music was too sweet and they only dated models. It was clear to me that something about them was not normal.
Today, when even my own kids have stopped listening to heavy rock, I know the truth. In the deep of the night, when no one sees him, Alice Cooper closes the blinds, puts on a Rod Stewart CD and dances around his living room singing at the top of his lungs "Hot legs, Tra-la-la…"