A Cool Million On A Hot Night

July 23, 1998

The British rocker Rod Stewart, who turned in a greatest hits performance at Monday's All For the Sea Concert at Southampton College, nearly doubled the total amount of money raised by the previous eight shows in the series.

"We're confident that our net will be in excess of $1 million," said Timothy Bishop, the college's provost. "By far and away it was the most successful single fund-raising event in this college's history."

A String Of Hits

Mr. Bishop estimated that the previous seven concerts combined had raised about $1.3 million. The proceeds benefit the college's marine and environmental science programs.

Mr. Stewart, whose current tour is being produced and promoted by SFX Entertainment, a company owned by the college's chancellor, Robert F.X. Sillerman, donated his fee, as did Jimmy Buffett, a part-time North Haven resident, in 1996.

The 53-year-old rock star, whose solo career has spanned 30 years, over 20 albums, and styles from country to disco, reached into his deep bag of hit singles for Monday's concert, starting with "Hot Legs," "Forever Young," and "Some Guys."

A Hot Night

With his trademark spiky blond hair, Mr. Stewart, who was sporting a good tan, wore a silk shirt with a Japanese-style print and a pair of black stovepipe pants cut above his ankles that he could have borrowed from James Brown.

High humidity soon left Mr. Stewart soaking in sweat. He slipped offstage three times to change shirts.

"He looks great, doesn't he?" said one middle-aged woman fan to her friend as they squeezed into a mass of admirers standing at the foot of the stage. "We should have made the move sooner," her friend agreed.

The singer pranced around the stage, twirling his microphone stand over his head and pausing now and again to dribble soccer balls before kicking them into the crowd.

Airborne Undergarments

After singing "I'm Losing You," a bluesy tune from his years with Faces, an English rock group in the early '70s, Mr. Stewart moved onto "Tonight's the Night," a ballad that made him a superstar later that decade.

"I love you, Rod!" screamed one woman near the stage as others sang along.

A short time later, a large - and brand new -black bra fluttered to the stage. It was followed by several more, which appeared to be, ahem, slightly less new.

A cross between Engelbert Humperdinck and Mick Jagger, Mr. Stewart seemed bemused by his sex appeal, grinning at times like an auto mechanic who had just been hired for a photo spread in Playgirl.

Brought Down The House

Mr. Stewart was backed by a competent six-member band, whom he did not identify, and three singers, who were dressed like rappers most of the evening but owed their singing style to '60s soul.

Although his raspy voice is limited in range, Mr. Stewart seemed in control until late in his 90-minute show when he sang badly out of key on "This Old Heart." He recovered in time to bring down the house with a sparkling version of "Maggie May," his first hit in the United States. He was accompanied on the tune, which is about first love, or lust, by a bawdy rag doll that a fan tossed on stage.

Guest Drummer

Obviously spent, Mr. Stewart wound down his show with the old Sam Cooke song, "Twistin' The Night Away," his own disco-era anthem, "Do You Think I'm Sexy?" and "We're Havin' A Party," a paean to '60s AM radio.

During the finale, Ronald Perelman, who is more known for his business dealings as chief executive officer of Revlon than for his musicianship, sat in on drums.

The two left the stage arm in arm. Mr. Stewart did not perform an encore, although the capacity crowd of 8,500 did not demand one, its members seemingly satisfied and more intent on beating traffic home than hanging around.