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Johnny Van Zant and the rest of the Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd played a twin bill with Kid Rock Tuesday night at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center.
Twin-billing act is double the pleasure
By Joe Sweeney
NEWS CONTRIBUTING REVIEWER
Updated: July 15, 2009, 7:40 AM / Story tools:
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DARIEN Its a concert experience weve all endured the second the band pauses in between songs, some wisenheimer yells out Freebird, as if they were the first person in the world to find that humorous. Tuesday night at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, if you made that request, it best not have been ironic, because Lynyrd Skynyrd was up on that stage.
As the co-headliner of the Rock and Rebels tour with Kid Rock, these Southern rock legends reminded a feisty, sold-out crowd what Red State rock n roll is supposed to be, fusing country shuffles with blues structures and loads of hard rock shredding.
Sure, this wasnt the real Skynyrd. After the plane crash that killed several band members (including singer Ronnie Van Zant), and the passing of bassist Leon Wilkeson in 2001 and keyboardist Billy Powell this past January, only one original member remains guitarist Gary Rossington. But truthfully, this edition of the band, anchored by Rossington and Van Zants brother Johnny, has been playing twice as long as the original outfit. Which means its more than capable of giving these tunes the grit, muscle and twang they require.
Whether it was the darkly tinged That Smell (a song about death), the driving blues of Call Me the Breeze or the juiced-up romp that is Gimme Three Steps, these wizened guys delivered with intensity and joy.
But this fun, well-worn set of Southern rock standards was only act one. As well-received as Lynyrd Skynyrd was, most of the crowd was there to see the rock star/rapper/country singer/ whatever Kid Rock, an artist who has managed to spin his wild success as a rap-metal novelty act in the late 90s into a career of some legitimacy. Its nothing to shake a stick at once the general public realized that rap-metal was an atrocity early in this decade, this guy realized the crossover potential of contemporary country and the long-term cred that comes with associating himself with such classic rock figures as Skynyrd and Bob Seger.
From the start of his shamelessly entertaining set, he made no bones about who were supposed to associate him with. The singer and his huge band took the stage as Journeys Dont Stop Believing blasted over the sound system. And after opening with the title track off his latest album, Rock n Roll Jesus, he performed a tune that lifts the riff from ZZ Tops La Grange, informing listeners in the first verse that he likes Hank Williams, Jr., Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top.
The next tune of the set, a cover of the Rolling Stones Tumbling Dice, would have been a nice moment, if practically everything up to that point hadnt been a glorified cover already. Many of Rocks tunes re-purpose well-known rock songs, but its not done with the artfulness of a great hip-hop producer. Instead, much of his catalog sounds like a decent classic rock jukebox, with a charming showman of a vocalist performing over it. Not life-changing stuff, but not that harmful either.
Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd
Tuesday night at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center.