By Ron Rollins | Tuesday, January 29, 2008, 11:38 PM
Love the guy or hate him, you have to give Kid Rock credit for at least one thing: In a world of copycats and bland pop wannabes, there is absolutely nobody else like him.
Now, depending on where you fall on that love-hate spectrum, you may or may not find comfort in the idea of the guys utter originality. But an original is what he is, and the sold-to-the-grungy-rafters crowd that packed Hara Arena Tuesday night knows what Im talking about.
I mean that Ive never seen a performer pay sincere homage to so many different kinds of music, acknowledge so many influences, and incorporate as many varied genres into a single act and pull it off. Not ever. And the way Kid Rock does it, with good cheer and effortless charm for lack of a better word makes for one darn entertaining rock concert.
Motown? This Detroit boy had it in there. Honky-tonk? Yessireebob. Rap-metal? Without a roof-shaking doubt. Old-school hip-hop? Mos def. Eagles-style country rock? Mid-70s rock-n-roll? Even a dash of Buffalo Springfield? All in there, too.
Kid Rock proudly reels off the names of his musical heros, rapping off about owing as much to Johnny Cash as to Grand Master Flash (uh-huh) and shamelessly ripping off Lynyrd Skynyrd riffs as he goes, singing in a voice that sounds like John Mellencamp before the heart attack and rapping with a slow, pre-gangsta rhythm that recalls Run-DMC.
In fact, there was Rev. Run himself included in on the act, along with good old Peter Wolf, the WooferGrooverMamaToofer from the J. Geils Band, who bandied his skinny, leather-trousered butt onto the stage to share a spotlight with the Kid, much to the crowds delight.
Yes, for those of you who find yourselves unable to get past Kid Rocks swaggering obnoxiousness, or his general and completely unrepentent lack of musical finesse, you may want to consider this: On Tuesday night, he displayed a marvelous generosity of spirit that one would have to call rare on a rock-concert stage. Wolf and Run werent just there to be rolled out as oldie opening acts to warm up the drunken Shiloh Springs crowd.
Rather, they were a major part of the act, fully incorporated into the show to add credence to those acknowledged influences we mentioned a moment ago. Kid Rock came out at 7:45 and started playing a couple of his own songs before turning the stage over to Wolf. Later, they played a few old Geils songs together, when Wolf got a chance to reprise his classic Repudah the Beauta rap from Blow Your Face Out.
Meanwhile, Rev. Run came out to rap with Kid Rock on a handful of songs, and they seemed to be having a blast getting everybodys hands in the air. To see the headliner share the stage this way was terrific and frankly, Ive not seen anybody do anything quite like it.
It made me like Kid Rock a lot more than I expected to, and Id expected to like him pretty well. You think hes a bit too cocksure on Cowboy? Well, youre right. You think he makes a bit toooooo much of the old bad-boy pills/drugs/booze/chicks/gettin busted shtick? Well, youd be right about that, too. You think theres nothing remarkable about a guy who sounds like Bob Seger if hed survived the Skynyrd plane crash and morphed into Snoop Dogg?
Well, youd be flat-out wrong about that last one. Ask me: Was he any good, really?
No, not the way you might mean. But he was, in some very strange, last-of-the-rock-stars way, absolutely great. You mightve had to be there to understand. But if you had been, you wouldnt need it explained.