He probably doesn't shout this from the rooftops, but it turns out that Kid Rock draws his fans (in Vancouver at least) from the more mature end of the ticket-buying spectrum. It isn't a complete surprise that 20-something music fans have shied away. The ‘USA, All The Way' shtick rarely washes well with the cool Canadian kids.
Shows what those kids know. Because the older, wiser and, if the sample of swaying screamers clustered around your correspondent were any indication, drunker concert goers who made their way into Rogers Arena last night witnessed something special. Kid Rock, for all the red, white and blue flag-waving, crudity and passing acquaintance to good taste, puts on a great rock and roll show.
Two minutes of bombast and pyrotechnics into set opener ‘American Badass' and the Kid, Bob Ritchie to friends and family, had laid his musical philosophy on a plate; "I like Johnny Cash and Grand Master Flash!"
Whether Country-Hop exists as a genre is open to debate, but Kid Rock certainly believed. For an artist who started life as a Detroit City rapper, he was never afraid to explore his love of the American South's musical heritage. Tracks like ‘God Bless Saturday', ‘Flyin High' and ‘Slow My Roll' were pure Nashville.
Naturally, melodic country rock was not what Vancouver came to see. Kid Rock, at his best, is bold and brash, fun and filthy. When two pole dancers appeared either side of the drum kit to accompany ‘Cowboy', it wasn't just the men that were cheering.
Halfway through the show Kid Rock announced that 2011 is the year of his 40th birthday and that the tour is a yearlong celebration of this milestone. Pointing to the big screen above the stage, a video rolled featuring birthday greetings from Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel and Jon Stewart. Kid Rock encored these clips with a comedy song of his own, ‘F**king 40'. The crowd guffawed its approval.
Kid Rock followed up this comedy excursion with a barely believable ten-minute sequence where he began a call and response with the crowd, took over the DJ decks, downed a potentially knockout shot of Bourbon, played a guitar solo and rocked the drum kit while singing Ted Nugent's ‘Cat Scratch Fever.'
It's important to point out that Kid Rock is hardly the most proficient DJ, guitarist or drummer. He's not even the best singer or MC. But he's pretty good at all of these. And, even if you're not a huge fan of the actual music, put together it's a tremendous package. Like the song, dance and joke men of the 1950s, his strength is his versatility. And although Sammy Davis Jr. rarely crooned the lyrics, "I wanna f*** you like I'm never gonna see you again," Kid Rock understands that what he's delivering is old-fashioned entertainment.
While ‘So Hott' was unadulterated sexual braggadocio, he was also brave enough to show his sensitive side. Almost.
He was halfway through regretful ballad ‘Put Your Picture Away' when the video screen crackled into life again, revealing Beavis and Butthead, complaining about "Kid Soft Rock."
Cue the grand finale of ‘Bawitdaba,' accompanied by a blaze of pyrotechnics, and a terrific encore, including a deconstructed acoustic version of ‘All Summer Long.' Shorn of the sledgehammer obvious Lynyrd Skynyrd and Warren Zevon samples, it's a surprisingly solid song.
Kid Rock's right wing reputation may have preceded his arrival in Vancouver. But whatever your political or musical persuasion, on effort alone it would be mean-spirited not to root for this gracious, self-effacing rock star whose charisma and hard work have taken him from Detroit basements to Vancouver stadiums.
Come on kids. If Jon Stewart's a fan, you know he's doing something right.
Photo Credit: Anil Sharma / CTVBC.ca
SOURCE: Robert Collins / CTVBC.ca