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Concert Reviews:
Kid Rock shares some Dee-troit love, south of the Michigan border

For Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Saturday, March 23, 2013

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TOLEDO, Ohio -- Kid Rock's Rebel Soul Tour rolled close to home on Friday, March 22.

And he had another home town hero on his mind at Toledo's Huntington Center.

Still buzzing from last weekend's pair of shows with Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band in Minnesota and North Dakota -- which he called "probably the best musical experience I've ever had" -- Rock played a solo acoustic version of "The Best Night Ever," a brand new song about the pairing. Filling the tune with specific references to the shows, Rock sang that "I'm still in shock from the night I got to rock with ol' Bob Seger" -- at an arena where Seger and company had launched their own tour just three weeks prior, and to an audience, partly filed with Michiganders, that could certainly understand his sentiments.

Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker Band then hammered in the message with its own barn-burning version of Seger's "Rock and Roll Never Forgets."

Those were fresh elements in what was, in fact, a fresh kind of Kid Rock show. Weighing in at an hour and 50 minutes, it was a streamlined but characteristically energetic performance that trimmed some of the showmanship gimmicks of years past in favor of a tight focus on the music. It wasn't entirely without eye-candy -- lasers, some pyrotechnics, prepared videos and a couple of confetti blasts -- but Rock and TBT let the songs carry the night, ripping through all or part of 20 songs that leaned as heavily on 1998's "Devil Without a Cause" as last year's "Rebel Soul" album.

Following opening sets by Buckcherry and Hellbound Glory, Rock's show started with, of all things, a prayer -- a pre-recorded video message telling God that "with the power of music you have blessed us all" and asking for the strength to deliver a good show. Rock was then vaulted up from below the stage as TBT cranked into the funky "Celebrate," then the galloping twang of "Rebel Soul's" title track before leaning into the familiar coupling of "You Never Met a Mother... Quite Like Me" and "American Bad Ass" (the latter paying video tribute to the late Evil Knievel). "Wasting Time," meanwhile, was decked out with a fuller, country-flavored treatment, with Rock declaring "I can do some of that Justin Bieber (stuff)" while executing some tongue-in-cheek line dance moves with his backing vocalists.

With just a couple of other songs -- "Redneck Paradise" and a rowdy "Chickens in the Pen" -- "Rebel Soul" took a largely back seat to Rock's older material, including "Cowboy," "What I Learned Out on the Road," "All Summer Long," "3 Sheets to the Wind" (with an extended DJ exposition by Rock), a medley of "Rock 'N' Roll Jesus" and "Only God Knows Why" and "Born Free." He and Shannon Curfman dueted on "Picture," while "Bawitdaba," as the first encore, came with its usual exposition of fire and explosions.

Rock did finish the night with some kitschy showmanship, singing a bit of John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" before vamping through John Eddie's "Happy New Year" with the entire band decked out in gold lame jackets, balloons, confetti and streamers raining down on the crowd, and contest winners dancing in party hats in the rear corners of the stage.

The Toledo show marked the closest Rock and TBT have played to the Detroit metro area so far on the tour. This leg of the tour closes with a pair of shows April 5-6 in Saginaw, and Rock's summer run will include some local shows; a multi-night run at the DTE Energy Music Theatre is heavily rumored, but no dates have yet been announced.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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