Rod Stewart

Ipswich Town Football Club

Ipswich Town Football Club

Yes, it rained a bit. But there was no denying the appeal and star status of Rod Stewart last night when he treated a sodden crowd at Portman Road in Ipswich to his greatest hits.

For many of us the day had started early as we stuffed bags with enough wet-weather gear for a round-the-world yachting challenge. If ever there was a market for tartan waders, this was it.

Throughout the day the town had waited anxiously as the sound check rang out against almost biblical thunderbolts and hailstones.

The stage was set to answer some of the greatest challenges the stadium had ever seen. The question was at 62 do we think he's sexy?

But that wasn't only conundrum taxing the 18,000-strong audience bedecked in free blue plastic ponchos, looking more like a giant tray of ice cubes than a Tartan Army.

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We wanted to know if The Faces former front man had spent too long crooning over his American songbook, laying waste to vocal chords now in their seventh decade.

Then, with a shower of sparks lighting up the walkway the Rodfather himself strutted out on the tartan-valanced stage, defying the rain and twirling his microphone stand.

Rallying the crowd from under a tassled white umbrella, he said: “We're in this together. Come on, we're British. Where's your Dunkirk spirit?”

As roadies worked to mop the stage we were reminded Stewart had already fallen foul of the weather requiring 10 stitches in his leg when he slipped on a metal stair at his opening gig in Manchester.

Opening with You Wear in Well, the veteran rocker romped through a catalogue of back material that could have kept us rocking all night. Non-stop hits included The First Cut is the Deepest, Do You Think I'm Sexy? and You're in My Heart.

But when Sailing seemed more of a suggestion than a song title even Rod admitted his frustration at the weather. “I've had three nights of rain on this tour. I'm never playing outdoors again.”

He dedicated Losing You to Temptations front man David Ruffin and sang a moving version of Cat Stevens' Father and Son in front of a video montage of himself with his father and two sons.

And when his voice lacked the oomph to fill the stadium, the audience chipped in, papering over the cracks.

But that part of him that matters most to fans, his voice, was in perfect condition as showcased by well-loved oldies including I Don't Want To Talk About It.

Is he still sexy? Pass. Did the rain stop? Rarely. Can he still sing? Without a doubt. It was a gig that even a rainy day couldn't spoil.

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