It’s a safe bet that more than a few folks saw their first-ever live record-scratching solo at Kid Rock’s concert in Nashville Friday night.
When the part-time Nashvillian jumped behind the turntables — after singing a number of his southern rock-inspired hits — it drove home what a wild and winding trip he’s enjoyed as a musician in the last 20 years.
Kid’s sold-out show at Bridgestone Arena was a celebratory mash-up of his musical loves: hip-hop, heavy metal and (to an increasing degree) classic rock. But mostly, it was a celebration of Kid Rock, and his fans were eager to join in.
Kid and his band hit all of the above styles with their opener, “American Bad Ass,” the superstar bounding down the neon-lit catwalk in a sleeveless fur coat, name-checking Johnny Cash and Grandmaster Flash to the strains of Metallica’s “Sad But True.” The show felt like an overwhelming spectacle from the start, between Kid’s gusto, the crowd’s excitement and a stars-and-stripes filled stage set that couldn’t belong to anyone else.
A giant longhorn skull spewed smoke out of its horns, looming over a saloon set (complete with a bar, taps and swinging doors). Dancing poles stood on both sides of the drum riser, and were frequently utilized. Giant fireballs routinely shot out of the front of the stage, particularly when Kid Rock was performing any of his dozen songs about being Kid Rock.
All of that, of course, is what Kid’s fans have come to expect from a man who’s built a career and a loyal following off of being over the top, politically incorrect and determinedly trashy.
But even with his lowbrow tastes, Kid Rock is clearly a meticulous showman. He’s assembled a stellar backing band with equal parts chops and personality, a fully equipped production and a fluid setlist that showcases his musical range. A musical moment didn't pass without its own lighting cue or wardrobe change — Kid, apparently, has a hat for every occasion.
Still, a number of the night's highlights were a little more low-key. Kid hit his huge 2008 hit “All Summer Long” surprisingly early on, with the perk of having the crowd fill in the lyrics at any point he wanted. Soulful pop number “Care” worked without its high-profile guests: Martina McBride was in San Antonio, Kid explained, and currently incarcerated rapper T.I. appeared in a pre-taped video clip.
Still, a couple of Kid’s famous Music City friends did join him onstage. Trace Adkins pitched in on a raucous cover of Charlie Daniels’ “Long Haired Country Boy.” Later, the room erupted when Sheryl Crow appeared without introduction, just in time to jump into her verse on their hit duet, “Picture.”
Crow stuck around for a few more tunes, timidly following Kid down the catwalk for a cover of Free’s “All Right Now” and their upcoming single, “Collide,” which Kid said they’d just finished shooting a video for in East Nashville.
From there — at the behest of famous animated faces Beavis & Butthead on the video screen — Kid Rock returned to the hard stuff, ditching his shirt to close with his breakthrough hit “Bawitdaba.” Even as his albums have moved fully into softer, more melodic rock, Kid’s aggro rap-rock material remains a lynchpin of his live show, providing nearly all of its biggest moments.
He turned it back down for the encore, bringing out opener Jamey Johnson, who turned one of Kid’s first middling southern-rock ballad attempts, “Only God Knows Why,” into an engrossing anthem.
Kid seemed like he was keeping it low-key for the final song of the evening, beginning “Born Free” at a piano placed at the start of the catwalk. But soon the floor raised beneath him, hoisting the star high in the air and revealing a circle of American flags underneath, as fireworks shot around the band. Ultimately, “Born Free” made for a fitting final statement: Clearly, Kid Rock wouldn’t have gotten to this point if he hadn’t been calling the shots.
Photo Credit: Samuel M. Simpkins / The Tennessean
SOURCE: Dave Paulson / The Tennessean