The beer was flowing and booty was a shakin' Monday night at the Brandt Centre as Kid Rock, the self-declared American Bad Ass, lit up the stage figuratively and literally.
Touring across North America as part of his Born Free tour, Rock turned the arena into a raucous rock and roll saloon full of pyrotechnics and hijinks that could make even the most catatonic of folks smile.
With a standard stage adorned with a large centre catwalk into the audience and two smaller versions on each the side of the stage, Rock had plenty of room to roam as he delivered past and current hits to the three-quarter filled building. The stage was designed to look like a saloon with bottles and advertisements for Jim Beam and Red Stag all over, and a second-floor balcony to house the drums, back-up singers and additional percussion. Fittingly, at the front of the stage, hanging over the catwalk was a gigantic American Eagle lit up underneath with the words "Born Free" in blue neon.
As cool as the stage design was, it merely became a backdrop once the action started. With a video backdrop at the rear, a montage started the evening, giving the audience a "History of Rock" as it showed images of the entertainer from his 1971 birth to the present. Fading to black, a red-eyed Texas Longhorn skull lit up and blew smoke while Journey's "Don't Stop Believin' " cut out after the line "born and raised in South Detroit," and the opening licks of "American Bad Ass" rang through the arena.
Rock's backing band, Twisted Brown Trucker, was in fine form, and was identical to the lineup that performed with Rock at Mosaic Stadium last summer. If anything, it helped showcase how talented a group of musicians they all are, as the closer confines allowed the more intricate pieces to shine through.
The set list contained a somewhat similar selection of tracks like "You Never Met a Motherf***er Quite Like Me," "Picture," "Somebody's Gotta Feel This," along with an instrumental interlude — which had Rock scratching on the turntables, playing guitar, and drums — that was identical to the version he played while opening for Bon Jovi at Mosaic Stadium.
Monday's show did have a different feel about it — the summer show was as close to a PG-rated offering that Rock will ever present but this time around Rock held nothing back. He knew this was his show and was wanting to take things down and dirty for the enthusiastic crowd.
Also different from his previous trip through the city was the addition of pole dancers during "Cowboy" and "So Hott," adding an element of burlesque that temporarily turned many a red- blooded male into a gawking teenager as they performed moves that gave every indication that they were professionals in every sense.
Having taken a somewhat Americana turn musically over the last decade, Rock has taken some shots that's he's no longer the bad boy persona that was sold to the masses upon his launch into stardom. The Michigan-born rocker toyed with that notion after performing an acoustic version of "Picture" as MTV cartoon icons Beavis and Butthead took over the video screen at the end of the tune.
With one of the characters commenting that, "He's supposed to be Kid Rock," the other retorted, "More like Kid Soft Rock." Having none of that, the rocker who also goes by the title "Rock and Roll Jesus," blew up the arena with a sonic cannon blast, multiple towers of flames, and showers of sparks raining down onto the stage for the set-ending "Bawitdaba."
The audience roared in delight as men and women grinned in utter enjoyment.
After a brief break, the band returned for an encore including a somewhat calypso arrangement of "All Summer Long," and Rock's introspective hit "Only God Knows Why."
Ending the show with the title track from his latest album Born Free, Rock alternately played the piano and sang with while standing on it as it elevated on a riser that elevated from the catwalk. Fittingly, during the song's final refrain a hybrid flag dropped over the backdrop showing a part USA and part Canada design.
Leaving the arena, there was some chatter that much of Rock's new material borrows liberally from Bob Seger, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the like. While there's definitely, some truth to that, despite a wholly original sound, there's no doubt that Kid Rock has earned his stripes as a tried and true entertainer, and Monday night's show only cements that notion.
Photo Credit: Michael Bell / Regina Leader-Post
SOURCE: Christopher Tessmer / Leader-Post