Written by Robert Herrington
Lynyrd Skynyrd and the multi-genre Kid Rock sound as different as they are intertwined, but on Saturday night the two shared Verizon Wireless Music Centers stage with both providing their fans a solid, powerful, rockin set.
The sold-out crowd, 25,000-plus strong, arrived early for Southern rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd, which was good because the show started 45 minutes early.
Among the great American rock bands, Skynyrd is also one of rocks great tragedies. Three days after the 1977 release of Street Survivors the album that solidified Skynyrds standing as a marketable and creative powerhouse the bands plane crashed in Mississippi en route to a show in Baton Rouge. Both pilots and four members of the band died, including vocalist and primary songwriter Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines.
Now only two original members (keyboard player Billy Powell and guitarist Gary Rossington) lead the rejuvenated band, which includes Van Zants younger brother Johnny singing the songs Ronnie and company wrote decades ago.
Sticking to the classics, Skynyrd played Whats Your Name, You Got That Right, Gimme Three Steps and Call Me the Breeze. Video images of American troops served as the backdrop to Simple Man.
Ive been waiting all night to say this, I do believe its time for the south to rise again baby, Van Zant said before Sweet Home Alabama was played.
As the band exited the stage to the deafening applause, everyone in attendance knew what the encore was going to be, especially after a golden eagle statue was placed over a Confederate flag on the piano.
The crowd responded even louder, which caused the speakers to be turned up so the audience could better hear Freebird, As Van Zant sang the opening lyrics If I leave here tomorrow would you still remember me? names and photos from Skynyrds past flashed on the screen behind him in a touching remembrance of those no longer with the band.
About an hour later, those same fans roared with applause as Kid Rock sampled Sweet Home Alabama and Warren Zevons Werewolves of London on the harmony- and acoustic guitar-laden All Summer Long.
Rock took the baton from Skynyrd and continued the evening of rock n roll laced with other genres. Saturdays set list was stacked with staples from Rocks 1998 breakthrough album, Devil Without a Cause, several tracks from 2007s Rock N Roll Jesus, and a mixture of hits from the three albums in between.
Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker band kicked things off with the title track to Rock N Roll Jesus. Testify, its a rock revival! Rock sang.
He continued with 2001s hit about never meeting a person like him and intertwined that with 2000s American Bad Ass.
It was like that all night, with Rock and his band slashing through rap, country, gospel and rock.
Showing just how far his style has evolved since his rapping debut, Rocks gospel Amen centered on how hard life is in American. To lighten the songs heavy message, Rock stopped the music and instructed all in attendance to high-five someone they didnt know, just as he did by running around the stage and greeting as many audience members as he could.
Rocks second career single, Cowboy became an interesting mess. He began with a cover of the chorus of Midnight Runner and detoured into a cover of the Dukes of Hazzard theme midway though the song, only to swing back into a fully amped version of Cowboy.
The set also included Only God Knows Why, Devil Without a Cause and Picture. Rocks debut single, Bawitdaba, ended the night that left the crowd screaming as loud as they had hours earlier for Skynyrd.
By Robert Herrington