Kid Rock keeps hits coming at Comcast

A review of Kid Rock at the Comcast Center on August 23, 2008

, Staff Writer

Between rock, hip-hop, and country, good ole boy and badass, rapper, crooner, and screamer, Kid Rock is doing some serious juggling. Saturday night at the Comcast Center he managed to keep all the balls in the air long enough to put on one of the best shows of the year, all the while making the trick look effortless.

It all started with a snippet of Journey’s "Don’t Stop Believing" ("born and raised in south Detroit") and a pre-show video that looked for Bob Ritchie in all the typical hangouts (hot tub with groupies, bedroom, Waffle House, jail) before finding him clad in white and leaving a church. That set the stage for "Rock N Roll Jesus", the title track from Rock’s recent double platinum smash, which made for a Motown-tinged bit of old time rock and roll revival.

A pregnant pause built up the anticipation before the Twisted Brown Trucker Band slammed into "You Never Met A Motherfucker Quite Like Me" that oozed soul. At the line "Never wanted a guitar ’till I heard a lick like this" the band broke into "Sad But True" by way of "American Bad Ass" and the Saturday night party started to get a little bit more out of control. Rock bounded around the stage with unbridled energy and feeding off the crowd’s participation, especially on the "Hey"s.

"Lowlife (Living the Highlife)" showcased Rock’s adept touch at simple pop songwriting, and "Cocky" showed his facility with braggadocio, but both were just preludes to "All Summer Long", which featured cameos from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Billy Powell and Gary Rossington. Saturday night’s performance caught the song at the height of its popularity, and as the crowd sang and danced along Rock greeted them, saying, "We know that times are hard. Thank you for spending your hard earned money to see us." He then promised that the band would leave no musical stone unturned, a promise that they set out to fulfill by taking the crowd to church for the country-soul of "Amen", which was delivered with such earnesty and passion that even when Rock encouraged the crowd to high five the strangers around them it was powerful.

Little touches, like leading into "Cowboy" with a few lines of The Allman Brothers’ "Midnight Rider" ("Detroit Rider" this night), or stopping the song in the middle for a Dukes of Hazzard theme tag before rocking the last verse even harder, put the night over the top. The country theme continued as Rock picked up an acoustic and declared it time for "Honky Tonkin’", which meant a playful cover of "Fuck You One More Time" and a more playful run through "Half Your Age". Drummer Stefanie Eulinberg, who was awesome all night, came out from behind the kit to stand up for the ladies, turning Kid’s diss of "She’s half your age and twice as hot" into "He’s half your age with twice the cock".

Rock continued to balance the profane and the sacred by following up with "Only God Knows Why". Starting with only backup singers, the band built the song into a restrained power ballad as images of soldiers played over the screens. Rock even took a little time to poke fun at himself, manipulating a line into, "People always fuck with me / I can’t hang out at the Waffle House" while his mug shot appeared behind him.

The two guitar players and the sax player took center stage for some subdued soloing that threatened to drag down the show’s momentum, but the trio turned out to be covering Rock’s wardrobe change into all black and a huge gold chain. All of a sudden Reverend Run of Run DMC burst out on the stage and the energy level jumped through the roof. Run and Rock tore through some of the seminal rap group’s biggest hits including "It’s Like That", "It’s Tricky", and "King of Rock" at breakneck pace (percussionist Larry Fratangelo strolled about the stage banging on a marching band bass drum during "It’s Like That" in a performance too funny to be described by mere words – check out a bit from MSG here to get a taste). Everything came to a head for "Walk This Way", during which everyone in the entire place rocked out as hard as they possibly could.

With that the Rev was gone, leaving a raucous crowd in his wake and creating the possibility of a let down. Kid Rock would not let it happen, however, and invited out yet another guest, Boston’s own Peter Wolf (and his friend Jim Beam). Wolf, wearing leather pants and looking more or less like a skeleton, teamed up with Rock for "Centerfold" and had the Comcast crowd clapping and "na"ing away. "Picture" proved to be the perfect come down, and Rock impressively nailed an extended "I was off to drink you away."

Kid Rock then showed his fans just how talented he is, moving from turntables to someone else’s guitar to drums, all the while riffing on Ted Nugent’s "Cat Scratch Fever". The process was a little bit drawn out but nonetheless impressive, and what little needed to be forgiven was when the band kicked into the balls out arena rock of "So Hott". That set the stage for the mammoth show closer, and Rock’s first commercial success, "Bawitdaba". Red siren lights and white strobes flashed as Rock took his place at the end of a catwalk that jutted out into the crowd. After a huge pause he delivered the signature opening line just as a backdrop sized American flag was unfurled behind the band. The song raged on, fireworks exploded in view out behind the lawn, and Kid Rock made good on the promise inherent in his name. There was no encore. We didn’t need one.

It doesn’t hurt to have Lynyrd Skynyrd warming up your crowd. The one-two of "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Freebird" made everyone forget that there are only two original members left in the band.

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