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Concert Reviews:
Kid Rock brings it home at Comerica Park

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Saturday, August 13, 2011

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DETROIT – Comerica Park crowds are used to seeing fireworks on Friday nights – but usually not until the end of Tigers games.

Kid Rock, on the other hand, didn’t make the 40,000-plus at the first of his two sold-out weekend shows wait nine innings. Or nine minutes, even. Heck, the pyrotechnics were firsing barely nine seconds into the first riffs of “American Bad Ass,” the opening salvo of a two-hour and 20-minute concert that affirmed the Clarkston-based rocker’s Favorite Son status with a generous tour though his 21-year recording career, a couple of tongue-in-cheek nods to his 40 years on Earth and a celebration of his continuing relationship with an audience that connects with everything from Rock’s raunchy booty calls to his heartfelt musical tributes to his hometown.

Rock, of course, set a high bar for the Comerica shows earlier this year when he held a guest-filled marathon to celebrate his 40th birthday in January, just next door at Ford Field.

On Friday (Aug. 12), under a full moon, Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker band took care of business largely themselves, with just a smattering of extras — opening act Sammy Hagar joining on a ramshackle rendition of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re an American Band” and Detroit NAACP chapter chief Rev. Wendell Anthony delivering a short ceremony before the first encore, “Times Like These.”

The result was a tighter, more cohesive and even more exciting show — not as great of a spectacle, perhaps, but a better representation of what Rock and company can do when they’re geared-up and on. And there was no question that was the case on Friday; as Rock said in a voice-over “prayer” at the beginning of the show, “This is not just another concert in another city. This is Detroit.”

Rock and his 10-piece band came out rocking like there was definitely something to prove, following “American Bad Ass” with a breathless, torqued-up set of “God Bless Saturday,” “You Never Met a Mother… Quite Like Me,” “Low Life (Living the High Life),” “Cocky,” “Son of Detroit” and “Slow My Roll” — many accented by copious pyrotechnics from a stage flanked by two large video screens and reminders of Rock’s assorted commercial concerns and endorsements (Made In Detroit, Bad Ass Beer, Jim Beam Red Stag).

There were familiar aural totems throughout the night. “Cowboy” — the only number of the night to feature onstage pole dancers — was preceded, as usual, by the Allman Brothers Band’s “Midnight Rider.” “Three Sheets to the Wind” featured Rock showing off on turntables, guitar and drums. And he poked a bit of fun at being 40 — still — by sitting on a lawn chair at the edge of the ramp jutting out from the stage for “Flyin’ High” and then performing his lament “40,” which was introduced by a repeat of the January happy birthday videos from Conan O’Brien, Jon Stewart and Jimmy Kimmel.

There were twists, too — particularly a rearranged, heavily percussive version of “All Summer Long” that stripped the Warren Zevon and Lynyrd Skynyrd references from the song.

Gentle, stripped-down versions of “Care” and “Purple Sky” (which Rock dedicated to his “dear, sweet mother who’s here tonight") were effective, while “Picture” was interrupted by MTV icons Beavis & Butt-Head, complaining, from the video screen, that Rock had turned “soft rock;” he responded with a blistering “Bawitdaba.”

The encore, however, was one of the best concentrated bursts of music Rock has delivered in this town. The stripped-down “Times Like These,” whose images of Detroit were enthusiastically cheered, was followed by of “Rock N Roll Jesus,” “Only God Knows Why” and “Born Free,” all featuring the white-clad Urban Contemporary Choir and delivered with a passionate, revival-style energy.

It was a memorable night — assisted, of course, but temperate weather and the contagious excitement of a big night in the city (including a Detroit Lions victory next door). Rock’s a big-night specialist, however, and on Friday he added another successful mark in his well-notched belt.

Kid Rock & Twisted Brown Trucker, Sammy Hagar & the Wabos and Ty Stone perform again at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 13) at Comerica Park. Tickets are sold out.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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