You wouldn’t think an ode to American troops, with a video backdrop of a billowing American flag, the White House, an eagle and the open road would play all that well in Montreal. Flag-waving is not what we’re best known for.
But it was Born Free, Kid Rock’s final song of the night. And by then, the Michigan rocker had so thoroughly conquered the hearts and souls of the 5,000 people at the Bell Centre that they would have happily joined the Conservative Party and demanded we rethink this withdrawal from Afghanistan thing.
True, 5,000 is not a strong number for the venue, and there were probably less than 1,000 in the place when Jonas and his band, the Massive Attraction, hit the stage to open the show. Even so, the city’s favourite hard rocker prowled every inch of the stage set up, catwalk included, and did an utterly heroic job of engaging the audience. For the duration of their 45-minute set, Jonas and band were the hardest-working men in show business. And by the time they closed with Edge of Seventeen, they had clearly won over everyone who wasn’t still outside the concert area waiting at the beer stand.
Things escalated quickly when Kid Rock, after a brief video celebration of his life, opened with the Strohs-and-hos anthem American Badass. Lasers lit up the arena and the tone was set for the evening: larger than life, cruder than hell, over the top and almost impossibly energetic and entertaining.
God Bless Saturday made an unexpected case for Kid Rock as a legitimate descendant of the Faces at their best. It’s similarly glorious, sloppy bar-band rock — just add a load of profanity, a more blue-collar mentality, double the volume and triple the intensity of the hedonism.
Kid Rock’s current favouring of four-on-the-floor heartland rock suits him well, as was quite obvious by You Never Met a Mother****er Quite Like Me. Bob Seger and Lynyrd Skynyrd were never so easy to forget.
Rock’s style of Supersize American Music still includes the heavy-riff rap that brought him on the scene, heard notably in a medley of the Allman Brothers’ Midnight Rider and Rock’s own Cowboy and Lay It On Me. (This, incidentally, is where the strippers, or rather the G-rated pole dancers, came out).
And Rock’s mix wouldn’t be complete without country, as in Flyin’ High, for which he unfolded a beach chair and opened a cold one, and ****ing Forty, an acerbic meditation on his recent milestone birthday, with the killer couplet “Bruce Springsteen’s ****ing 62 and the Stones are almost dead.”
Sensory overload made it hard to make linear sense of what was going on with flags, strippers, Jim Beam, cigars, Jon Stewart on screen with birthday wishes, solo ballads, lasers, Rock leaping, twirling, windmilling and dropping to his knees, Beevis and Butthead onscreen taunting him as Kid Soft Rock, a stage-length cattle head blowing smoke from its horns, bursts of flame, fireworks, acoustic guitars and drunken howling coming from everywhere in the audience.
It couldn’t have been more excessive. Or more enjoyable.
Click here to see see John Kenney's photo gallery from the show here.
SOURCE: Bernie Perusse / Montreal Gazette