Archive for Toyota Center

Live: Rod Stewart & Stevie Nicks, Houston

Posted in Review with tags , , on August 10, 2012 by 30daysout

Gotta hand it to Rod Stewart – he’s a consummate entertainer. (Photo and Instagram by Art Meripol)

Have to admit – the prospects of a live rock show at the tail end of a busy week weren’t exactly appealing. But Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks, concluding their U.S. tour together at the Toyota Center on Thursday (8/9) won us over.

Ace photographer Art Meripol, in town on assignment, and I decided to forgo the regular cameras and fool around with our iPhones. In the process, the music drew us in.

Stevie Nicks, lookin’ good on the big screen.

Serving as opening act, Nicks came out smokin’ – her crack band, led by guitar whiz Waddy Wachtel, ripped out a rousing cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll,” and we were off to the races. Four songs in she deployed “Dreams” by demurely admitting “I didn’t know this till recently … but this was Fleetwood Mac’s only No. 1 hit.”  Hey babe, I learned that off the internet (Wikipedia is your friend). Stevie then doubled down with “Gold Dust Woman” from the monster Rumours (1977) and her solo hit “Stand Back.”

Following a long (maybe a little too long) story about visiting wounded veterans in Washington, we got “Soldier’s Angel,” inspired by those visits. Then, thankfully, “Rhiannon,”  and to close it out, “Edge Of Seventeen” and “Landslide.” You gotta hand it to Stevie Nicks: of all the rocker chicks from the 1970s, she’s pretty much one of the few who have survived intact to remain interesting today.

And then we have Rod Stewart. We like to pick on the guy because he’s, well, Rod Stewart. But you gotta hand it to him – he’s a consummate entertainer.

In a roughly two-hour set Rod played 19 songs, 11 of which were cover versions. At least he didn’t dip into the Great American Songbook for them. He opened with the O Jays’ “Love Train” and hit his stride later with a cover of Sam Cooke’s “Having A Party.”

But happily Stewart’s set was front-loaded with his biggest hits, including “Tonight’s The Night,” which came early in the set. Unfortunately, so did “Young Turks.” After that, though, Rod showed some slides of the kids and grandkids like a beaming dad then dedicated his rewrite of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” to all of ’em.

We used iPhones instead of cameras … and so did everyone else.

He invited out a group of local ladies called the Houston Strings to join him and members of his band at the front of the stage for his “Unplugged and Seated” portion of the show. Playing (mostly) acoustically, they offered shimmering versions of Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately” and Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut Is The Deepest.”

Then he pointed out how his record label screwed up way back: for the first single off Stewart’s landmark album Every Picture Tells A Story (1971), the label decided on “Reason To Believe.” The song they didn’t have much faith in, “Maggie May,” they stuck on the B-side. “Thankfully a DJ in Cleveland flipped it over and started playing it (“Maggie May”) on the radio,” said Stewart, “and that’s why we’re all here tonight!” Which is how he introduced “Reason To Believe.”

“Maggie May,” the monster hit, would close out the show after rockin’ out with Chuck Berry and Creedence covers, as well as “You’re In My Heart” and “Hot Legs.” Have to admit, though, we didn’t stay for the encore, “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” which was a question the close-to-sold-out crowd answered a long time before.

YouTube: “The First Cut Is The Deepest” from the Toyota Center concert

Live: Bruce Springsteen, Houston

Posted in Bruce Springsteen, Review with tags , , on April 15, 2008 by 30daysout

Photo courtesy



It really doesn’t get much better than Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Houston stop along the Magic tour, April 14 in Toyota Center.  A near-sellout greeted the opening song, “Cadillac Ranch,” the 11th straight wild-card opener he’s unveiled along the tour.  Complainers will point out what Bruce didn’t cover, but he and the band turned in a 2.5-hour, 26-song barn burner that rocked the house.


Highlights included a mesmerizing “Magic,” seguing into a fiery “Because the Night;” “Radio Nowhere,” which probably would work better as a concert opener every night; and the always welcome “Candy’s Room.”  Bruce unveiled the emotional acoustic ballad “Terry’s Song” after dedicating it to his long-time friend Terry Magovern, who died last year and would have been 68 on Monday.  Which could explain the set’s third song, “Lonesome Day,” that may have been a clue the evening was a somber occasion for Springsteen.


Although the middle section of the concert featured some tunes off the recent album Magic that left some of the audience cold, Bruce quickly reeled ‘em back with 1970s standards like “The Promised Land” and a ferocious “Badlands.” 


A big surprise of the evening was “E Street Shuffle,” which Bruce took as an impromptu request and recalled playing in ’74 at Houston’s now defunct Liberty Hall.  It also came, apparently, as a surprise to his fellow musicians who adapted nicely nevertheless.  This band is tight as a high-tension wire, and there’s pretty much nothing they can’t handle.


They proved that on the first two songs of the encore: Bruce welcomed Alejandro Escovedo, the excellent Austin singer-songwriter, who led the band through “Always A Friend,” the first song off Escovedo’s new album Real Animal.  The surprises weren’t over, as Joe Ely next came onstage to reprise his “All Just To Get To You,” which rocked harder than ever. 


“Rosalita” detonated the rest of the blazing encore, then “Born To Run,” “Tenth Avenue Freezeout” and the hootenanny capper “American Land.”


Age and time may be slowly taking a toll on this great band – the energy level wasn’t nearly as high as other tours, in other eras.  Clarence Clemons is slowed down, Danny Federici is battling cancer, and life beyond E Street beckons for other members.  But Bruce Springsteen proved once more he’s one of the last true believers of rock and roll, and on this night he shared its healing power.  For two and a half hours, we were all young again.



MP3: The E Street Shuffle (live, 1975)



Video: Always A Friend – Bruce Springsteen/Alejandro Escovedo



Bruce Springsteen official website