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Concert Reviews:
Home is sweet for first of Kid Rock's eight DTE shows
 

By GARY GRAFF
@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- A smaller venue. A low-dough ticket price.

A more modest night from Kid Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker band?

Hardly.

The first of the Clarkston-based artist's eight sold-out $20 Best Night Ever Tour shows at the DTE Energy Music Theatre -- tying a venue record set by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band in 1977 -- had the same large-scale sense of event as his appearances during the past few years at Comerica Park and Ford Field, up to and including his hit-filled hour and 50 minutes on stage Friday, Aug. 9. Rock's first DTE appearance in three years and first home town show in an unusually long 15 months was as much a festival and full-on summer party as it was a concert, from the parking lot tailgate parties to a DTE concourse housing an exhibition of some of Rock's car collection, a chance to rev the engine of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle or get a Jim Beam tattoo and, of course, plenty of kiosks selling Rock's just re-launched Bad Ass beer.

The music fit the setting, too, as Rock and company romped through a high-octane, fat-free 19-song set that down-shifted just once, for his "Picture" duet with Twisted Brown Trucker backup singer Shannon Curfman. Otherwise Rock and his 11-member group were in full-throttle mode, emerging from behind a curtain following a taped "prayer" -- in which Rock promised to "do anything but disappoint" -- to crank out "Devil Without a Cause" and then the buoyant soul-rock of "Celebrate" from last year's "Rebel Soul" album.

"Man, it feels god to be home," Rock declared, giving the crowd a satisfied thumbs-up. Taking a poll of how many had seen him play before, Rock welcomed any "newbies" and assured that he'd "walk (them) into this slowly" -- before launching into "You Never Met a Mother****** Quite Like Me" that segued into "American Bad Ass" and a tribute to the late George Jones.

The rest of the show was populated with fresh twists on older favorites. "Wasting Time" boasted a rootsy, rural gospel flavor, while "What I Learned Out on the Road" emerged from "Cowboy" as a John Lee Hooker-style shuffle. "Forever" was mashed-up with Rush's "Tom Sawyer," complete with lasers, and rolled into "Cocky" and then "Son of Detroit," and "Rock n Roll Jesus" was paired with a revved-up take on "Only God Knows Why." He also performed "Redneck Paradise" with the taped voice of Hank Williams, Jr., while the song's video played behind the group.

Rock took his customary turn on the turntables during "3 Sheets to the Wind," with an abundance of product placements for sponsors Jimmy John's, Jim Beam and Harley-Davidson (he later acknowledged their role in helping achieve the $20 ticket price). "Born Free" was preceded with another taped sermonette and began with Rock on piano, while he sang "Flyin' High" sitting on Michigan-shaped wooden deck chair. Black-and-white beach balls flew through the crowd during "All Summer Long," and "Bawitdaba" closed the night with its traditional storm of pyrotechnics.

Home was indeed sweet home for Rock on Friday, with the promise of more good things to come during the run, which continues Aug. 10, 11, 13, 16, 17, 19 and 20.

And Rock's show was so commanding that you could almost forget he had a headline-caliber opener -- ZZ Top -- alongside on Friday. Following an opening set by local band Citizen Zero, the Texas-trio delivered a lean 'n' mean 50-minute, 13-song set that was bolstered by an extensive video presentation and plenty of hits -- including "Gimme All Your Lovin'," "Sharp Dressed Man," "Legs" and "Tush." But the group shined even more during blues discourses such as "Waiting on the Bus"/"Jesus Just Left Chicago," "I Gotsta Get Paid" and an extended "La Grange" that gave guitarist Billy Gibbons plenty of room to stretch out and flex some of his abundant instrumental muscle.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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