Saturday, February 9, 2008
Adam Graham / Detroit News Pop Music Writer
At Joe Louis Arena on Friday night, Kid Rock proved he doesn't need pyrotechnics or strippers to put on a battering ram of a concert.
At the first night of a two night stand of his "Rock N' Roll Revival" tour -- the show repeats at Joe Louis again tonight -- Rock left the flames and floosies behind and put his music at center stage.
The result was an electrifying journey through 40 years of American music, filtering through Motown, metal, rock, soul, country and hip-hop, and whatever else Rock and his 10-piece Twisted Brown Trucker band felt like touching upon. Rock has always been a deft genre-skipper, switching up musical styles like a human iPod, but this tour is a whole different animal.
Featuring guest stars Rev. Run (of legendary hip-hop trio Run DMC), Peter Wolf (of Detroit faves the J. Geils Band) and Dickey Betts (former guitarist for the Allman Brothers), this revue-style rock and roll revival is the most musically impressive tour Rock has ever staged.
And Friday may have been the hardest-hitting show Rock has ever put on in his native Detroit. Clocking in at a massive three hours, the concert -- Rock's first Detroit-area arena show since Super Bowl weekend in 2006 -- was a praise-worthy celebration of Rock's unparalleled showmanship. It was brave, bold and brazen, never relenting. It felt bigger than Joe Louis -- it was stadium-sized, and could easily play at Ford Field if Rock brings the show back for a summer date.
Rock was clearly elated to be back in front of a packed hometown crowd of 14,500. During "Amen," Rock said he wanted to try something he's never tried in concert before, and asked everyone in the audience to look to their right and left and introduce themselves to their neighbors. Sure, it was a little campy, but the communal vibe in the building was reassuring.
For all his forays into country and rock -- the set drew largely from Rock's extensive catalog of hits, as well as a healthy dose of material from 2007's "Rock N Roll Jesus" -- the show hit full tilt when Rock was joined on stage by Rev. Run. Deep down, Rock has always been a hip-hop kid at heart, and he couldn't hide his elation while duetting with one of his musical heroes.
Wolf, looking like some sort of Johnny Depp character in a Tim Burton movie, performed a number of J. Geils Band hits. Wolf was spastic and untethered, and was almost the opposite of Rock, who was always composed and professional.
Run and Wolf joined Rock onstage at the close of the show, and Rock ended the show, shirtless, with a towering "Bawitdaba."
At the onset of the concert, the message was laid clear. "Testify, it's a rock revival," Rock sang during "Rock N Roll Jesus." He lived up to his word, and it's hard to believe anyone walked away unconverted.
You can reach Adam Graham at (313) 222-2284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.