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Concert Reviews:
Kid Rock Debuts New Songs At First DTE Show
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK



INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Early during the first of three weekend homecoming shows Friday night (Aug. 13) at the DTE Energy Theatre, Kid Rock asked which fans were at Comerica Park last year for his pair of stadium shows.

"I guess this (DTE) has turned into the intimate venue," he cracked. "This is like a club date now."

Certainly the former Pine Knob (Rock's preferred name for the amphitheatre) and its 15,000 capacity is a significantly smaller proposition; Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker band will play to just as many fans in total there as they did during just one of the Comerica shows. But that didn't at all limit the group's ambition for the concert, a typically long (two hours and 20 minutes) and cracking exposition of Rock's genre-blending attack that on Friday continued a subtle -- with apologies to his TBT band hype man -- paradigm shift in the Kid Rock sound.

While he's carefully kept his forthcoming new album, "Born Free," due in November, under wraps, the Clarkston-based Rock and company debuted some of the fresh material for the home town faithful. There was "Slow My Roll," a sinewy, Rolling Stones-flavored rocker. "Rock On" was an uncharacteristically quiet, dark meditation on the end of a relationship, while "Feels Good To Me," which will feature country star Trace Adkins on the album version, was a spirited if slight romp. The topical "Times Like These," premiered as a work-in-progress last year at Comerica, has been finished and, played acoustically by Rock and guitarist Marlon Young, still stirred home town sentiment with its chorus of "I heard them say they're shutting Detroit down/But I don't believe it 'cause this is my home town" and accompanying video of iconic Michigan images.

Best of all was "Born Free's" title track and slated first single, a patriotic heartland anthem in vintage Bob Seger mode that was inspired by Rock's trips abroad to play for U.S. troops. Closing Friday's show as fireworks exploded above the pavilion roof, it official started the clock on the wait for an album that -- at least as far as fans are concerned -- can't come too soon.

The new songs also affirmed Rock's continuing move away from his rap-rock past and towards more carefully crafted fare. Warhorses such as "Cocky," "American BAd Ass," "Devil Without a Cause," "Cowboy," "Three Sheets to the Wind" and, of course, the show-opening "Bawitdaba" were still reliable crowd-pleasers, but Rock's real creative appetite is clearly on a different path -- evidenced by his inclusion Friday of Jamey Johnson's "In Color" and the soulful "When You Love Someone," a deep cut from 2007's triple-platinum "Rock N Roll Jesus." Even adding Shannon Curfman, a blues-rock solo artist whose build is decidedly not what Rock has usually favored for his band, added musical muscle to Twisted Brown Trucker, displaying by vocal and guitar chops and even taking the solo during "Picture."

That does not mean the 23-song Rock show was a sober concern, however. Friday was still a bona fide, pyrotechnic Detroit throwdown for an exuberant crowd that was standing from start to finish. "Son of Detroit," "Lowlife (Living the High Life)," "All Summer Long," "Rock N Roll Pain Train" and a screaming "So Hott" had DTE rocking, while covers of Sly & the Family Stone's "Everyday People" and Uncle Kracker's "Good to Be Me" fit comfortably into the mix. And a bit of theatrics, with the entire band changing into white outfits for "Rock N Roll Jesus," was delivered swiftly enough to avoid being a speed bump.

Rock performs again at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 14-15) at DTE, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Ty Stone and Blackcherry Smoke open Saturday's show; Jamey Johnson opens on Sunday. Tickets are sold out, but some are likely to be released before showtime.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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