WEB EXTRA: “Ooh La La”: Rod Stewart gets your mom (and maybe you)

It’s been nearly 40 years since Rod Stewart first shook his British booty into America’s hearts (and loins) with his breakthrough single, the infamous older-woman love lament “Maggie Mae.” Rod Stewart is 62 now, and Maggie’s probably dead. But to the 10,000 screaming over-the-hill women inside the Verizon Center last Friday night, Stewart’s boyish charm is still very much alive and kicking. In fact, according to the video that introduced his two-and-a-half hour set – a little mock-short dubbed “The Rodfather” – not only is Rod still kicking; he’s “kickin’ ass.”
Our generation, however, doesn’t exactly think of Rod Stewart as the ass-kicking type. Stewart, unlike generation-crossing contemporaries like Dylan and the Stones, is firmly stamped with the stigma of “parent-rock.” Though the Stewart-fronted band The Faces still counts some fans among the college set (thanks in no small part to Wes Anderson), Stewart’s solo stylings on easy listening hits (Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately”) and wacky ego-jams (“Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?”) have failed to catch on with even the most ironic of 20-something music snobs.
Many youngsters, unfortunately, are more likely to know Rod as father to socialite and Paris Hilton on-again-off-again-BFF, Kimberly Stewart. You remember Kimberly Stewart – she’s the Hilton look-alike who’s said to have gotten giant breast implants, removed them, autographed them, and sent them to Jack Osbourne, who now displays the silicone heeby-jeebies on his bathroom wall.
I swear I am not making this up. It’s on the Internet.
But from the moment Rod stepped onto the giant circular stage Friday night – with his frosty hair, cheeky grin and only a moderate amount of bloat – he transported his aging audience back to a time when people had to do more than just make the Internet gossip rounds to be famous; they had to, as The Rodfather made clear, “captivate a whole generation of women with big hair and an eye for a cute butt.” And judging from the amount of squeals, swoons and floral arrangements directed his way last weekend, it seems that even women with downsized hair and bifocals still see a lot of sexy shimmying beneath Rod’s gold lame jacket. Rod also had his fair share of male admirers – from dutiful husbands who warmed up after being dragged in, to one man who wagged a bouquet at Rod through all of “Infatuation” until Rod, silk shirt clinging to his chest for dear life, bent down to receive it.
With two hour-long sets, an encore, and too many costume changes to count, Rod breezed through such hits as “Tonight I’m Yours,” “Hot Legs,” and The Faces’ “Ooh La La,” though his kicks were a little slowed and his gyrations more forced. When Stewart got winded – or just wanted to try on a new pair of skinny jeans – he turned over the show to long solo jams by his capable band of musicians, featuring a hot-panted saxophone player and a go-go-booted trio of backup singers called the “Rodettes.” Throughout, Rod’s gravelly voice was surprisingly strong. And his infamous ass? Tell your mom that he’s still got it.
The real surprise, though, was how Stewart hooked the younger crowd as well. Everyone – from the moms-gone-wild waving the “I LOVE U SINCE 1972” sign to the young couple sipping from their flasks to my right – had a smile on their face. I, for one, had a great time. The pure, frivolous joy of watching Rod Stewart and the women who love him delight in “getting down with their bad selves” (Rod’s words, not mine) was a refreshing change from the jaded, cynical rock that marks the popular music of our generation.
There is nothing ironic about Rod Stewart, and for that, I love him. But be certain of this – 30 years from now, when I spend $100 to watch an aging Julian Casablancas drone discontentedly into a microphone, I’ll drag my kids along so they can experience what it’s like to be blissfully bored with everything – just like their mom used to be.

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