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Rod Stewart, Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow


THE spirit of Argentina 1978 is alive and well: the tartan tammies, saltires, lion rampants and, of course, Rod Stewart.

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Step into the stadium and spookily one of the first sights is '78 full back Sandy Jardine ushering guests from one of the sponsor's lounges.

The late 70s were Rod's halcyon days, his record sales at their peak, his voice at its best and his youth still enough intact for his macho swagger to charm its way into the hearts and minds of the tabloids and public alike.

Saturday's concert at Ibrox encapsulated Stewart's ongoing struggle to come to terms with age, and more tangibly maturity. Although he looked alarmingly healthy and was in fine voice it was a schizophrenic, populist and good-value performance weighing in at 25 songs in two and a half hours.

The orchestra was a misguided attempt at sophistication, lost in the stadium acoustics and only audible on the semi-unplugged selections of Have I Told You Lately and Tom Traubert's Blues.

Elsewhere he is at his most comfortable when revisiting his most distant past on Every Picture Tells a Story and when duelling with Small Faces keyboard player, Ian McLagan on Stay With Me. Even on later material like Hot Legs and You're In My Heart Rod out-lads 90s pretenders like Liam Gallagher and Shaun Ryder.

Much of the rest is a combination of rock and soul covers from the Motown and Atlantic vaults: Sweet Soul Music, My Girl, and This Old Heart of Mine all get an airing -- crowd pleasing, but always the easy option, rarely testing his voice or the band and almost rivalling his entire post-1980 output for its sheer insipidness.

The extracts from this period, even his murderous renditions of the traditional Wild Mountain Thyme and Tom Wait's Downtown Train are turned in to the type of vacuous stadium anthems that are the sound of a settled, safe and hugely successful artist resting on the laurels of his early career.

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