Rod Stewart, a late-blooming political commentator?

Is the former Youthful Communist League member-turned-longtime-conservative — and self-explained “dear friend” of Donald Trump — a public advocate for a war-torn democracy?

In the course of his Saturday live performance at San Diego’s North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre, the veteran vocal star did more than just pay lip company to a well timed result in.

“I’m now sporting blue and yellow, the hues of Ukraine,” mentioned Stewart, as he focused his 13th collection of the night time, “Rhythm of My Heart,” to the besieged Jap European nation.

The tune was accompanied by big photograph projections and movie footage depicting the ravages of war perpetrated in opposition to Ukraine by Russia, whose chief, Vladimir Putin, Stewart recently in comparison to Adolf Hitler. As “Heart” concluded, an huge picture of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was demonstrated.

For an artist so seemingly apolitical — at the very least publicly — as Stewart, this was a bold transfer. (The tousle-haired singer is now delivering lease-absolutely free housing in England to a family of Ukrainian refugees.)

But surprises were if not mainly absent from his crowd-satisfying functionality. It was uniformly nice but only from time to time stirring, most notably for the duration of a heartfelt version of the Curtis Mayfield civil-legal rights anthem, “People Get Prepared,” wherever Stewart sounded deeply engaged.

Sent with properly-oiled precision by him and his six-female, six-guy band, the modern clearly show opened with a crisp model of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Enjoy.” It concluded 110 minutes afterwards with “Stay With Me,” the rollicking 1971 music Stewart co-wrote and recorded when he fronted the band The Faces.

In in between arrived an enough number of preference cuts from Stewart’s earlier. Standouts incorporated the early 1970s gems “You Have on It Well,” “Maggie May” and “Ooh La La,” whose melancholic refrain — I would like that I realized what I know now, when I was young / I want that I understood what I know now, when I was more robust — takes on additional poignancy now that he is a graying grandfather.

Make that a blonde grandfather considering the fact that his hair color has remained reasonably continual over the decades. At 78, Stewart — whose oldest of 8 children is now 59 — has charisma to spare and continue to exudes sex enchantment. He earned cheers for his pelvic thrusts throughout “Infatuation,” his fourth assortment.

Likewise, the bonhomie Stewart demonstrates on stage remains as appealing as at any time. He handled his listeners like they were — if not previous close friends — much more than everyday or one particular-time acquaintances.

The audience, which appeared to fill about two-thirds of the nearly 20,000-capability venue, responded in variety. Then once again, a good selection of the concertgoers grew up on Stewart’s music and welcomed the chance to sing and sway along with him.

But his 22-song live performance as well usually felt set on autopilot. This enabled Stewart to coastline and croon via alternatives he executed with greater conviction — and with a broader vocal vary — in 2018 at this similar location (then identified as Mattress Company Amphitheatre).

Witness his version of the 1967 Etta James blues gem, “I’d Rather Go Blind.” Stewart did it as a tribute to recently deceased Fleetwood Mac member Christine McVie’s 1969 variation with the group Rooster Shack. “A (expletive) ineffective identify for a band!” he quipped.

Exactly where Stewart’s 1972 recording of the song brimmed with soulful enthusiasm and heartache (or at the very least a convincing simulation of heartache), on Saturday he tiptoed by means of the lyrics. Likewise, his subsequent reading of “Downtown Train” by Tom Waits — who grew up just a handful of miles away in Nationwide City — was sent so politely as to verge on getting neo-temper new music.

At other details in the concert, Stewart’s option of content proved puzzling.

He did not carry out this sort of classics as “Sailing,” “I Was Only Joking” or 1976’s “The Killing of Georgie (Section I and II),” a song that takes on even better resonance now when the LGBTQ group has been subjected to raising functions of violence.

Alternatively, Stewart offered a sing-alongside variation of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You At any time Observed the Rain” that added tiny to the concert’s musical or psychological arc. Why?

And his late-present vocal duet with Becca Kotte on the 1966 Motown Marvin Gaye/Kim Weston chestnut, “It Requires Two” — which Stewart and Tina Turner coated in 1991 — under no circumstances received out of very first equipment. As a tribute to Turner, who died in May possibly, it fell quick of the mark.

After his 16th quantity of the evening, “Tonight’s the Evening,” Stewart informed the viewers: “One more gradual one particular and then we’ll definitely get the party commenced.”

In response, a guy seated in the row in entrance of me yelled: “Please! You should! I’m worn out of sitting!”

Stewart then tenderly essayed Van Morrison’s 1978 ode to really like, “Have I Told You Recently.” It was shipped in a mainly acoustic format that suited Stewart’s lilting shipping and delivery well. He sounded perceptibly additional engaged, connecting with the lyrics to a greater diploma than he experienced with much too many of his earlier selections.

When “Lately” concluded, Stewart claimed: “Let’s get this occasion started off!” — only to exit the phase for his fourth or fifth wardrobe improve of the night time.

In his absence, his a few feminine backing singers delivered a lo-cal, momentum-stalling model of LaBelle’s “Lady Marmalade.” It came only 3 tunes soon after their Stewart-totally free acquire on the Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Enthusiastic,” which the trio sent with a similar amount of money of enthusiasm but minor vocal dimension.

Like also substantially of Stewart’s Saturday display right here, these segments have been superior suited for Las Vegas, the place he is now more than a 10 years into his annual effectiveness residency at Caesars Palace.

Continue to, there is bring about for hope and rejuvenation. Stewart has spoken lately about how excitedly he is wanting ahead to his following album, a massive-band jazz and leap-blues outing with previous Squeeze keyboardist Jools Holland. He’s not the only one.

By Indana