A few weeks ago, a reunited Limp Bizkit released “Gold Cobra,” an attempt at a comeback album that has only shone a brighter light on the band’s crippling irrelevance. On Wednesday night, Kid Rock performed to an adoring crowd of young and old at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, in support of “Born Free,” his latest in a long string of hit records.
How is it that this guy’s career is healthier than ever, while his old contemporaries can’t hope for more than a revived interest in ’90s compilations? To put it simply, while Fred Durst was writing about hot dog-flavored water, Kid Rock had a vision.
His “Born Free” tour is a testament to the brilliant balancing act that the artist has been able to pull off over the last decade. Knowing that he couldn’t rely on rap-metal forever, Rock began evolving his sound once the millennium hit, rebranding himself as a trustworthy caretaker of Southern rock, metal and rebel country traditions, who is still prone to the occasional blast of hip hop braggadocio.
And judging by his set on Wednesday, he has absolutely mastered this fusion of styles in the name of entertainment, mining all of their most crowd-pleasing elements — wicked riffs, chest-pounding choruses and shout outs to the everyman. It doesn’t hurt that the guy’s pipes have vastly improved from the early days. Dude can flat-out sing.
Rock opened with “American Bad Ass,” in which he raps over the riff from Metallica’s “Sad But True” — a monster metal hook that Rock’s massive band scorched through. It was the first of many loving nods to Rock’s influences; throughout the evening we heard snippets of the Allman Brothers, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Rush and Skynyrd.
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