Oakland Coliseum Arena, California
August 14, 1972
All photos by Dan Cuny
Editor's Note: A brief history of The Faces, with photographs and memories of their performance at the Cow Palace in October, 1973, can be seen here.
1972 was the year in which The Faces, at that time comprising Rod Stewart (vocals), Ron Wood (guitar, vocals), Ronnie Lane (bass, vocals), Ian McLagan (keyboards), and Kenney Jones (drums), finally attained major stature, particularly in America. Their rising fame as a band had been greatly enhanced, and later would be thoroughly overshadowed, by the separate fame of Rod Stewart, which resulted from his own albums (An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down in 1969, Gasoline Alley in 1970, Every Picture Tells a Story in 1971, and Never a Dull Moment in 1972), and especially from "Maggie May," a song that had become a worldwide hit in October, 1971.
The Faces were at their collective height as performers when they appeared in Oakland on August 14, 1972. Although Rod Stewart already carried himself with the assured bearing of an undeniable star, and his expressive voice necessarily was at the forefront of their performance that evening, it seemed that he still was happy to be a firm member of the band, and Ronnie Lane, whose heartfelt tunes and mischievous demeanor served as definitive qualities in their music, had not yet departed from the fold. Together, the five British musicians offered a flashy show that pleased and thrilled their fans, slyly combining an abundance of friendly humor and a wealth of easygoing musicianship, along with an element of old-fashioned excitement.
Gary: This was one of the earliest concerts that we attended together. (David was on a backpacking trek with other friends, so it was just me, Dan, and Michael.) We had reserved seats, which allowed me the luxury of visiting the restroom while Tower of Power (a fine local band that I didn't appreciate enough back then) opened the show. We all liked Rod Stewart, and we knew about his early days with The Steampacket and The Jeff Beck Group. I had made a tape of Gasoline Alley that I played on my Sears reel-to-reel tape recorder nearly every day. I really loved that album.
The Faces were at their peak in 1972. Rod Stewart was a true star. Ron Wood was dressed in equal glitter rock flash, churning out amazing riffs and blazing slide leads on his clear Plexiglas guitar. We were impressed to see all of The Faces, including Ronnie Lane, who was dressed in a three-piece suit, complete with flower in the lapel. I was very much aware of his great presence on bass. Ian McLagan was brilliant, and also was wearing flashy clothes. Kenney Jones was in the background and not asserting himself visually, seemingly content to drive the band with his skilled drumming.
They played crowd-pleasing hard rock songs such as "Miss Judy's Farm" and "Stay with Me," with Rod Stewart bouncing from one side of the stage to the other in a silver suit, open to the waist, well-tanned and with neck jewelry. They must have done "Maggie May," and if they did that song, they also must have done "Every Picture tells a Story" and "(I Know) I'm Losing You," from the same album. In one of the softer moments, Rod Stewart sang "I'd Rather Go Blind," falling on his knees (what a ham!), with Ronnie Lane concentrating on his bass behind him.
The Faces were amazing in those days, and the show in Oakland was quite dynamic. They were as strong as The Who, though "Rod the Mod" threw it all away when he abandoned his talented friends to avoid UK taxes and pursue drivel in Los Angeles, dyeing his hair blond and singing "Da' Ya' Think I'm Sexy?" I shudder to think of it.
Dan: This was one of the more anticipated shows that Michael, Gary, and I attended that summer. Unfortunately, David was on a backpacking trip, so he didn't go to this concert. Boy, did he miss a great show! We always made an effort to acquire good seats, and for this show we were in the eighth row, center. I can still remember going to the show with a 200mm lens on my camera, which allowed me to get a closer view of the stage and get tighter shots of the band.
When the lights went down and the band came onstage, it was truly electric. Rod Stewart was dressed in a sliver sequined midriff top and matching trousers. Ron Wood was in a red satin shirt and sequined pants. If I remember correctly, they started the show with "It's All Over Now," which had Rod Stewart running from one side of the stage to the other, swinging his microphone and, at times, throwing it into the air. I had never seen anything like that before, so it was very exciting. Then they went into "Miss Judy's Farm," which was one of the songs I was most looking forward to hearing, because I love Ron Wood's playing on that one. The concert was a good mix of Rod Stewart's songs and songs from albums by The Faces.
I also remember that Rod Stewart would run across the stage from one end, sliding on his knees at the other end. At one point, Ronnie Lane and Ron Wood were singing at one end of the stage, and while Rod Stewart was at the other end, Ronnie Lane let his microphone start to fall. Rod Stewart saw what was happening and ran to the other end, sliding and picking up the microphone just before it hit the floor, and continued singing. There was a lot of fun on the stage, with the band joking around. I remember Rod Stewart walking over to a speaker cabinet and picking up a bottle, looking over at Ian McLagan and pointing to it. Ian shrugged his shoulders and Rod took a big swig from the bottle.
I clearly remember them playing "Maggie May," "Stay with Me," "That's All You Need," and "True Blue." Ronnie Lane was a masterful bass player. Ian McLagan's playing on piano and organ was great, and Kenney Jones was powerful on drums. It was one of my all-time favorite shows, and one of the most enjoyable to photograph. I also had the opportunity to see them a few more times, before they decided to go their separate ways.
Michael: The evening of August 30, 1972, was the first time that I saw a performance by The Faces. I saw them a second time, at the Cow Palace in October, 1973, but I count the first show, in Oakland, as being a better experience, overall, than the second, which probably is why I can remember it more clearly. I also remember it as being the first time that I saw a man wearing a kilt, playing a tune (I think it might have been "Amazing Grace") on a set of bagpipes, which happened onstage right before the appearance of The Faces. In Oakland, The Faces succeeded in delivering a performance that was as exciting, both musically and visually, and as casually polished, as any performance of rock'n'roll could ever be.
I was a dedicated fan of Rod Stewart, both with and without The Faces. In 1972, he was at his best, as were The Faces, and together they all made a formidable team, boisterously playing music that was filled with friendliness and smiles. The public, perhaps inevitably, perceived Rod Stewart as the "star," but all five members of The Faces, particularly Ronnie Lane, had a strong hand in creating their unmistakable sound. Rod Stewart, it could be said, was "first among equals." He had become hugely famous on his own, but his fame had not unduly overwhelmed the other musicians, at least not to the extent that it did several years later.
Rod Stewart, wearing an outfit of shiny silver, was in lively form that evening. He seemed abundantly fit, always in action, and his well-known hairstyle was in excellent condition, looking just the same as it did in photographs. He went through his loose moves with a smooth degree of easy perfection, happily strutting around the stage as if he owned it. He repeatedly threw his microphone upward, high in the air, catching it on the beat each time when it came down. Ronnie Lane was attired in a sharp suit, appearing extremely dapper, and he apparently had taken a drink or two (or more) before stepping onstage. Ron Wood displayed nearly as much flash as Rod Stewart, merrily sprinting back and forth as he offered one sprightly riff after another.
It was clear that The Faces enjoyed performing together. They drew their list of songs mostly from A Nod is as Good as a Wink... to a Blind Horse, with a handful of Rod Stewart's hits added for good measure. I am fairly certain that among the songs we heard were "Miss Judy's Farm," "Stay with Me," and "Every Picture Tells a Story." One moment is especially clear in my memory. When Rod Stewart was singing his greatest hit, "Maggie May," his four cohorts acknowledged his words with an impudent chord as he looked at them and sang the line, "Or find myself a rock'n'roll band (whump!) that needs a helping hand." A wonderful performance by musicians who were talented enough to make it seem as if they were not even working at it.
More about The Faces at David's Rock Scrapbook
Next: Frankie Miller