Kid Rock isn't often at a loss for words.
But looking out at the nearly 60,000 home town fans who came to celebrate his 40th birthday on Saturday (Jan. 15) at Ford Field, the Clarkston rocker shook his head and noted that, "I don't even know what to say...There is no place on earth I'd rather be right now than here."
The feeling was unquestionably mutual as Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker band upped the ante on their typically potent live performances with a career-spanning but age-defying three-hour combination of concert and party, filled with special guests and other surprises but, at its core, a testimony to and, yes, celebration of what Rock has accomplished in his 20-plus years of recording and of his civic contributions to the Detroit area and Michigan.
Rock -- who actually turns 40 on Monday (Jan. 17) -- certainly got some presents on Saturday, including a Spirit of Detroit Award and jersey and a customized 2011 Camaro SS from Chevrolet, which was a bit provocative in a place called FORD Field. But Rock gave back as well, announcing contributions of $25,000 each to the local charities C.O.T.S., the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, the Haven shelter and the Rainbow Connection.
The best present Rock and company bestowed, however, was the evening's music, an exhaustive and exhausting presentation dressed up with pyrotechnics, lasers, massive video screens and, on several songs, dancers gyrating atop two giant birthday cakes that flanked the stage.
As the song says, "A Kid Rock party don't stop, y'all..."
There was a full retinue of promised guests, starting with Rock bringing on "best friend" and former Twisted Brown Trucker hype man Uncle Kracker for their 2010 duet piece "Good to Be Me" and continuing with the J. Geils Band's fleet-footed frontman Peter Wolf, who was part of the 2008 Rock N Roll Revival Tour, on an energetic "Detroit Breakdown." Joseph "Rev. Run" Simmons, another Rock N Roll Revival veteran, lit the stadium up with a medley of Run-DMC favorites "Rock Box," "King of Rock" and the group's cover of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," while Martina McBride delivered her part on "Care" from Rock's latest album, "Born Free," and Anita Baker led the crowd in "The Star Spangled Banner." Conan O'Brien, Jay Leno, Jon Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel, NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson and Beavis & Butt-head -- whose creator, Mike Judge, was in attendance -- contributed video tributes, while Cindy Crawford and her husband, Rande Gerber, showed up to lead the singing of "Happy Birthday."
The chief guest, however, was Sheryl Crow, who joined Rock in recreating their chart-topping 2001 duet "Picture" and stayed on stage to bump 'n' grind through Free's "All Right Now" and a smooth rendition of "Collide," also from "Born Free" and culminating with the two slow-dancing at the end of the long ramp that extended into Ford Field.
Starting the show with the Beatles' "Birthday," then seguing into the perennial favorite "Cowboy," Rock and his crew offered a generous taste of "Born Free," carefully deploying eight of its 12 songs throughout the show. Rock served up plenty of older favorites, including "Bawitdaba" and "All Summer Long," but he delighted longtime fans by dipping into his catalog to resurrect tracks such as "Welcome 2 the Party (Ode 2 the Old School)" and, in a medley, "Early Mornin' Stoned Pimp," Yo-Da-Lin in the Valley" (the first song off his 1990 debut "Grits Sandwiches For Breakfast"), "Feel This," "Fist of Rage," "I Am the Bullgod," "Where U At, Rock?" and "Forever." The encore brought the tongue-in-cheek "Forty" and the instrument-hopping "3 Sheets to the Wind," with "Born Free" bringing things to a rousing and anthemic conclusion.
Afterwards Rock and his guests -- including Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz and several players, along with a corps of Red Wings fresh from their victory over Columbus at Joe Louis Arena -- celebrated further with chicken fingers, veggies, chips and Jim Beam in Ford Field's North Club. Smoking a victory cigar, an ebullient Rock said that the show blew by for him, and that at one point he thought he'd have to add more songs -- only to be surprised he'd been on stage for nearly two and a half hours.
The experience, he noted, was like being on "another level." Not a bad way, in other words, to start one's fifth decade.
Rock gets his "Born Free" tour underway in earnest with sold-out shows Friday and Saturday (Jan. 21-22) in Saginaw.
Photo Credit: Carlos Osorio / AP Photo
SOURCE: Gary Graff / The Oakland Press