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Concert Reviews:
Friends, family help Kid Rock kick off 10-night run at DTE
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- The Devil had a cause on Friday night, Aug. 7, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

Kicking off his record-setting 10-night run, Kid Rock was clearly still feeling the effects of an upper respiratory issue that forced him to postpone a couple of recent concerts on his summer Cheap Date Tour. And the Clarkston-based artist put the blame on himself, telling the packed amphitheater that he "made some bad decisions" in not resting himself earlier.

But, he rasped, "No one's accused me of being Pavarotti. I think we can still have a good time."

And Friday's hour-and-45-minute show was indeed that -- a typically spirited, high-energy romp through Rock's particular musical melting pot of rock, rap, country, blues and gospel, accented by lasers, pyrotechnics, a little bit of gleefully schticky choreography and footage on a large, framed video screen at the rear of the stage. That he was not in good voice did not matter to the 15,000 strong at DTE; thrilled to have him back playing in these environs for the first time in two years, the Rockheads were happy to pick up the singing slack, especially on favorites such as "Cowboy," "All Summer Long" and "Picture."

Rock was also bolstered by his tightly-woven 11-piece Twisted Brown Trucker band, with its three backup singers and sharp solos by guitarist Marlon Young and keyboardist Jimmie Bones. And then there were the special guests: Ted Nugent, looking more like Jimmy Buffett than the Motor City Madman in his Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirt, cranked out his "Cat Scratch Fever" with Rock and company; and the Packway Handle Band bluegrass quintet, which opened the night, and Rock's son Robert Ritchie Jr. romped with him through a buoyant "Good Time Lookin' For Me."

Rock's newest material -- "First Kiss," "Good Times, Cheap Wine" and the exceptional "Johnny Cash" -- were seamless additions to the repertoire, and he indulged in a bit of storytelling during a seven-song mid-show medley that lived up to its "Bi-Polar Rock 'n' Roller" title as he alternated snippets of soulful ballads ("Care," "Blue Jeans and a Rosary," "Jesus & Bocephus") and ferocious rockers ("Fist of Rage," "So Hott," "Somebody's Gotta Feel This") before winding up at "All Summer Long."

And "Picture" was treated to a new arrangement that drew from both vintage Memphis soul.

By the time Rock and his crew roared through the traditional closer "Bawitdaba," night one at DTE could be checked off as a winner, a bit of triumph over adversity but mostly proof -- as if it was needed -- that when he's home, Rock can always get by with a little help from friends and family, both on stage and off.

Foreigner founder Mick Jones, meanwhile, was also ailing and sat out his group's opening set on Friday. But the current configuration of the band still delivered convincing renditions of Foreigner's biggest hits, from the opening "Double Vision" through extended versions of "Urgent" and "Juke Box Hero," with frontman Kelly Hansen making his way into the DTE pavilion on a couple of occasions. And the Detroit School of Rock & Pop choir from Royal Oak had a special moment, joining Foreigner for an encore performance of the chart-topping 1984 anthem "I Want to Know What Love Is."

Kid Rock, Foreigner and the Packway Handle Band continue their DTE run on Aug. 12, 14-15, 18-19 and 21-22. Tickets are sold out, but promoters say some may be released over the course of the run. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.



Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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