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Rod gets to work to reveal his songwriting genius

As anyone who's seen a Rod Stewart show over the years knows only too well, you certainly always get your money's worth. One of the great rock'n'roll frontmen, Stewart knows exactly how to structure a setlist and while there'll be no shortage of old favourites in the RDS tonight – no fool he – there is a slight difference in his approach this time out.

For the first time in his career Stewart has released an album where he dominates the songwriting credits (bar a Tom Waits song, he's named on every track) and the result, Time, is a timely reminder of just how good a songwriter he is when he puts his mind to it.

One only has to recall just how emotional and vibrant early solo songs such as Maggie May, You Wear It Well and Gasoline Alley were, his voice a thing of true beauty and soul and his lyrics connecting with audiences worldwide.

There are occasions on Time when the work does recall those heady days, most notably on It's Over, which deals with the break-up of his marriage to Rachel Hunter and the gorgeous Brighton Beach, which recalls a teenage love affair that led to the birth of his first child, which he and her mother gave up for adoption.That these songs are so strong makes it all the more baffling why Stewart has devoted most of the past decade to churning out pointless retreads of the Great American Songbook.

Sure, all five were huge sellers, particularly in the States, but they seemed to reinforce the notion that Rod was always more content to cruise rather than push himself artistically.



The man himself puts his lack of more original material down to "laziness", but it could be that following the writing of his hugely entertaining autobiography, certain doors to his past were opened and the creative juices flowed.

Either way, he's certainly never been a slouch onstage and while he's too canny an old pro to overload tonight's show with tracks from Time, the ones he does play are likely to be quite special indeed.

Rod Stewart plays the RDS tonight.

>George Byrne