Kid Rock may have gotten it wrong.
During “God Bless Saturday,” the latest single from the Detroit rock-rapper's new album, he gripes that “Tuesday's such a bother.”
Well, Tuesday night's rowdy, sell-out crowd at Van Andel Arena certainly begged to differ, as Kid Rock mounted a lavish, Saturday night-styled party spectacle complete with balls of flames, lasers, and two hours of boisterous rap, country and rock 'n' roll.
Oh, and a working bar that he actually made use of on stage.
He was just following through on what he proclaimed proudly while rolling out that new hit tune as the second song of the evening, announcing that he was primed to “let it rock and keep the drinks pourin' ... until the early mornin'.“
I'm guessing a few of the 11,000 well-lubricated fans in the sold-out arena may have done the same.
So while President Obama was presenting his State of the Union address to the nation, Kid Rock was regaling West Michigan fans with his own “State of the Rap-Rock-Country Union,” mixing his older hip-hop crowd faves such as “Bawitdaba,” “Forever” and “Cowboy” with twangy, rootsy new rock songs such as “Slow My Roll,” “Care” and “Flyin' High” from his “Born Free” album.
He did it in typical Kid Rock fashion, injecting the usual I'll-play-a-bunch-of-different-instruments medley (which included a snippet of Ted Nugent's “Cat Scratch Fever”), then adding a group of dancing girls (superfluous though they were) and a boatload of special effects (even if many of them seemed to be tossed in willy-nilly in odd spots).
But now more than ever, this Michigan-born singer emphasizes his new penchant for rootsy songwriting. In some ways, he's become the state's 2011 version of Bob Seger, a Detroit icon who Kid Rock, aka Bob Ritchie, readily acknowledges as his hero.
So, Tuesday night's show focused heavily on country-hued songs from “Born Free,” including the title track which the tight, 10-piece band delivered with gusto during an encore that had Kid Rock standing atop a grand piano raised hydraulically well above the stage.
With a set list altered considerably from his much-ballyhooed birthday show at Ford Field earlier this month, the singer also infused a bit of humor into the concert: “You can't buy cool,” he quipped when the overhead screen displayed a large photo of Aerosmith's Steve Tyler as an “American Idol” judge.
Mr. Rock's extravaganza followed two openers, starting with Detroit singer-songwriter Ty Stone's short roots-rock set, which included the song “American Style” that jibes perfectly with Kid Rock's current approach.
Award-winning singer Jamey Johnson and his seven-piece band, meanwhile, delivered a longer set of old-school outlaw country, with a real emphasis on twang. With songs like “You Can't Cash My Checks,” the bearded Johnson, with his reserved mountain man demeanor, is a favorite of Kid Rock's, sharing his blue-collar attitude.
And while Kid Rock boasted his share of twang, too, it was his early rap-rock classics that still seemed to ignite his most devoted fans, whether it was “Early Mornin' Stoned Pimp” or songs with titles that can't be printed in a family newspaper.
Personally, I think Kid Rock's new Seger-styled shtick fits him to a tee – better than his white-trash Detroit rapper guise of old, when he sometimes seemed to try too hard to deliver what he thought the music industry and fans wanted.
These days, his mix of the profane and the polite, the party-down and the down-home seems to work better than ever. The softer side endears him to a broader audience, even if naysayers who call him an overrated poser still might not have been impressed by his ego-driven, arena-sized trappings and bravado (not to mention a silly, f-word-filled rendition of the song, “Forty”).
Still, few could disagree that Kid Rock – who was in energetic, perfect, stage-leaping form on Tuesday – gives fans one heckuva bargain for their bucks.
His genuine affection for all things Michigan, from unfurling a gigantic state flag behind the stage to declaring, “There's nothing like summertime in Michigan,” also clearly gives him special star status in the Great Lakes State. Heck, if not for his salty language, he'd be a perfect ambassador for the “Pure Michigan” campaign.
He even acknowledged and led cheers for several veterans of the Vietnam War (spotlighted recently in a Press column by Tom Rademacher) who were given free tickets to the show.
And as the consummate showman, Kid Rock made it all feel like a Saturday night ... even if it was just a bothersome Tuesday.
Photo Credit: T.J. Hamilton / The Grand Rapids Press
SOURCE: John Sinkevics / The Grand Rapids Press