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Rod Stewart promises he won't pull his trousers down at Portman Road

PUBLISHED: 13:24 10 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:32 10 May 2019

Rod Stewart Credit: Rankin/supplied by Cuffe & Taylor

Rod Stewart Credit: Rankin/supplied by Cuffe & Taylor

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Rod Stewart fans in the region will soon be able to hear his famous gravely tones live as he comes to Portman Road in Ipswich on June 7.

The Portman Road football ground Picture: MATT STOTTThe Portman Road football ground Picture: MATT STOTT

During his six decades in the music industry - with chart-topping albums in each one of those - that distinctive voice has kept Rod at the top, with success across all genres of popular music, from rock to folk, soul and the classic American Songbook, and record sales totalling more than 200 million worldwide.

Following on from his latest release - Blood Red Roses, which debuted at number one in the UK album chart - Sir Rod Stewart will once more be touring the country, including the home of Ipswich FC.

At 74, the touring schedule - billed as his biggest UK tour to date - could be daunting, with sold-out football stadiums and indoor and outdoor arenas in the diary, but there's clearly no sign of Rod retiring, as many of his peers have… Yet.

"Not at all - I'm proud of my age… And most of my peers are dead, not retired," he laughs.

Rod Stewart Credit: Cuffe & TaylorRod Stewart Credit: Cuffe & Taylor

"I enjoy it, that's what it comes down to. There will be a time, I'm sure, for retirement and I'm closer than I was years ago.

"To me, retirement is not a lovely word. People always talk about 'looking forward to retiring' but for me that's an awful thought. I'm lucky I have a brilliant job that I love, and as long as I enjoy it and people are coming out in their droves to the shows then I will go on."

And to keep up physically, Rod reels off a string of activities: Three personal trainer sessions a week, swimming, playing football with his youngest sons, rowing.

With Blood Red Roses his 30th studio album, there's plenty of tracks to choose from when it comes to planning a tour - the hits really are too many to mention. How do you create a set list with that many songs available?

Rod Stewart Credit: Cuffe & TaylorRod Stewart Credit: Cuffe & Taylor

"We know there are certain songs people love to hear, of course, but I like to bring back ones from way back when, and there'll be a fair sprinkling of those, probably two from Blood Red Roses and a couple from the two albums before that Time and Another Country," Rod explains.

"People want to hear the songs like I Don't Wanna Talk About It, and that keeps them in the show. And we don't really drop tracks, we change the show every night; from a set list of maybe 20 songs, for example track 15 every night we'll change it and decide each night what it'll be, so every crowd gets a slightly different show.

"It keeps the band on their toes - and they keep me on mine! It's a big band, six girls, six men and they're very lively, it's good to have the youngsters around."

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Also featuring in the 2019 tour will be special guests Johnny Mac And The Faithful, opening the summer shows after being hand-picked by Rod himself.

After hearing their music at Celtic matches and events, Rod had fallen for their barn-storming Irish-influenced Americana sound, with one instrumental especially standing out.

"I'd heard them play over the years but never knew anything about who they were," he said. "And one time I was watching footage of the players training on Celtic's TV channel, and I loved the background music which was being used. I looked all over the place to find out what it was. I thought it was a band from Australia and we'd tracked it down… But it turned out it was Johnny, and they were on the doorstep. I instantly had lyrics to go with the music, and that led to us co-writing Julia on Blood Red Roses."

Recent years have seen Rod back writing, after his exploration of the Great American Songbook in the Noughties. He'd turned away from penning his own music for several years after losing confidence in the early Nineties, as documented in his 2012 book Rod: The Autobiography.

"When I wrote my book, that sparked in me the realisation that I had stories still to tell, about my early beginnings, my dad, and that book spawned the writing, it came back to me," he said.

Then there's the variety of each show and each audience bringing something different.

"Whether it's a small festival or a bloody great big one, we give every show the same 110%. We have played to 54 people once, for a wealthy Russian man in Rome who must have only known 50 people - and he invited all of them. He paid me a lot of money, and we gave the same show as we would at Madison Square Garden.

And what can fans heading to the shows this year expect?

"A total load of flipping rubbish…," followed by that gravely laugh, and a simple explanation. "I can only do what I do, sing a collection of wonderful songs; new ones, old ones, a few surprises, and there's a whole new visual going on.

"I'm not going to take my trousers down, not this time, maybe when I get really desperate I will. When you forget to put your trousers on, maybe that's the time to pack it in."

So, Sir Rod will be keeping those Hot Legs under wraps… For now, at least.

Rod Stewart comes to Portman Road in Ipswich on Friday June 7 with gates opening at 5pm.

You can purchase tickets at ticketmaster.co.uk

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