Kid Rock Kid Rock perormed Friday night at the Saddledome. Attendance: 7,500
Camping be damned -if you want to get a long weekend started right, you could do worse than kicking it off by partying with a certified bad ass.
Even if it's a Canadian three-day celebration -one many consider this nation's unofficial start of summer -and that, er, ass is decidedly American.
Yes, Mr. Robert James Ritchie (a.k.a. Kid Rock) rolled into the Dome on Friday night to ignite the sunny (soon, please), beerdrinking season, with his rap 'n' Southern rock songs of unabashed white trash debauchery. He may be older (he turned F--king Forty, as the song says, earlier this year), a little mellower (his latest album Born Free shows off his slower, Seger leanings), but the Detroit native still can bring a Friday night to life like no kegger or rye and coke bender could. He is a showman, and he does it well.
Popping the top off his almost two-hour set with the aforementioned trademark American Bad Ass, Rock put the somewhat sparse Saddledome crowd in the mood for a day-after hangover right from the get-go, never letting his Motor-and Rock-City foot off the pedal. You Never Met a Motherf--ker Quite Like Me, newbies God Bless Saturday and Slow My Roll, Rock N Roll Jesus, a soulful duet on Picture, a shirtless and monster version of Bawitdaba -Rock and his tight Twisted Brown Trucker Band muscled their way through a steady stream of tasty material.
From the dirty, grinding voodoo boogie of So Hott, complete with big-screen, video peelers, to a killer coupling of Somebody's Gotta Feel This and Forever, it was a relatively seamless evening, musically. And he never once stopped working the room, sprinting and posing his way around the fire-and light-saturated saloon stage setting, taking time to flex his scratching, strumming and vocoder skills, when he wasn't singing and rapping, or leading the crowd through a call and response of his moniker.
Perhaps the only misstep of the night was when he back-tobacked his excessive stomper Cowboy, featuring a quartet of inthe-flesh, rhythm-impaired strippers tag-teaming a pair of poles (not a euphemism), with the tender piano ballad Care, which features lines about praying for life's salvation and, sadly, not being able to feed the homeless (oh, if only the homeless had g-strings).
The contrast was jarring and utterly ridiculous. Then again, that's what Kid Rock is, at his best and worse -an unapologetically ridiculous caricature of dumb, redneck fun. He can rap an offer for you to kiss his Anglo-Saxon buttocks one minute and then sit centre stage in a lawn chair chugging a bottle of whiskey and showing his down-to-earth sensitive side the next.
And, again, while the Rick Rubin produced Born Free, as an album, may be more subdued than earlier efforts (leading perhaps to the Beavis and Butt-Head clip with the cartoon duo calling him "Kid Soft Rock"), and he may have hit the big 4-0 (celebrated by video wishes from such famous friends as Conan O'Brien and Jon Stewart), he certainly didn't act or perform anywhere near his age.
He is Kid Rock, after allmuch, much better than camping.
Canrockers The Trews seemed an odd choice as openers, considering they're a little less white trash and a little more Great White North. But they proved a wise one, getting the long weekend off to a rousing Molson-raising start with a pretty unbelievably stellar high-energy set.
A club act at heart with an incredibly loud arena-sized sound, the quartet got the crowd on its side early, hauling out radio-hit Not Ready to Go for their opener and building effortlessly from there with the meatier, more memorable moments from their fouralbum career, including Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me and an awesome version of Tired of Waiting.
And were there any chance that they would lose the crowd, they cemented their place in the patriotic heart of every single heart Maple Leaf-loving soul in the Dome with their salute to the troops Highway of Heroes, a slower, but still impassioned slice of rock 'n' roll.
By the time they shuffled off the stage a sweat-drenched 45 minutes later, it was official: The unofficial start of summer.
SOURCE: Mike Bell / Calgary Herard