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Rod Stewart in Dublin review: The 79-year-old rock icon does his best to keep misery at bay amid downpours

When the sky does eventually clear – a bit – the singer, remarkably sprightly for someone knocking on 80, hits his stride

Rod Stewart

Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin

Raindrops keep falling on the heads of the thousands who have turned out to see Rod Stewart at Kilmainham. The deluge, which feels as if it will last forever but does eventually clear, makes for a muddy start to a greatest hits set by the spiky-haired rock icon, who does his best to keep the misery at bay – but does not always succeed.

“Is it still raining?” the 79-year-old asks at one point. “Never mind, it’s a day off tomorrow.” He appears to be referring erroneously to a bank holiday in the UK. Or perhaps to a public holiday in Germany, from where he’s just come.

But there is no day off – and for a while, it feels like there will be no end to the downpour. It isn’t the best circumstances in which to see Stewart: many of the concertgoers are aged 60 or over, and aren’t enjoying the rising damp. They’ve popped along to see Stewart, but instead find themselves in a simulation of day three at Glastonbury.

Still, Stewart works hard at conjuring sunshine in a miserable setting, starting with a brisk version of Sam Cooke’s Having A Party. With the sky clearing – a bit – the singer, remarkably sprightly for someone knocking on 80, hits his stride. He wraps his arms around Bonnie Tyler’s It’s a Heartache, while Forever Young is spruced up by a harp solo and some Riverdance-style hoofing from his backing vocalists.


Back from a costume change, Stewart romps through a storming version of Young Turks and celebrates his love of Ireland with Dirty Old Town – the Ewan MacColl valentine to Salford in Manchester that the Pogues turned into a love letter to Dublin.

There is some banter too, but with the wind swirling, good luck making out what he’s saying if you’re one of the huddled masses at the lip of the amphitheatre. The sound isn’t the best either: oddly, it’s far clearer around the corner in front of the bar and en route to the chip vans than at the top of the ridge, gazing down at the stage.

The big singalong moment of the evening comes when he belts out the old rebel ballad Grace, about Grace Gifford, fiancee of executed 1916 Rising leader Joseph Plunkett. Camera phones ripple across the venue, and stay aloft when he dons a sailor’s hat for Sailing.

Given the rain, it’s appropriate Stewart finishes with a song about open water. At the end of an evening where a lesser performer might have left a soggy audience high and dry, Stewart has ploughed on and delivers a gig that comes close to defying the elements and which conjures some light and warmth amid the gloom.

Ed Power

Ed Power

Ed Power, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about television and other cultural topics