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Concert Reviews:
Kid Rock guest shot takes Kenny Chesney's Ford Field show to next level
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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DETROIT -- Kenny Chesney is reliably adept at making his summer stadium extravaganzas special.

And thanks to the presence of a certain local buddy on Saturday night, Aug. 13, at Ford Field, the country star once again lived up to that standard.

Kid Rock, who's taking a year off of his own summer stage rituals in his home town, joined Chesney -- who introduced the Clarkston rocker as his "brother" -- for renditions of his own "Cowboy" and a quick romp through David Allen Coe's "You Never Even Called Me By My Name," to the roaring delight of the crowd of almost 46,000. With Rock sporting a Detroit Lions vest it was the high point of an already strong set by Chesney, right down to Chesney's story about Rock angering his uncle when they met years ago.

The surprise guest shot wasn't all Chesney had up his sleeveless gray T-shirt on Saturday, either.

The staging of this year's Spread The Love Tour may have been more modest than on previous outings, with no airborne arrivals and a smaller ramp taking Chesney towards the general admission "Sandbar" area. Video screens, a long row of oversized Marshall amplifiers and a pole loaded with bras that have been thrown onstage during the tour provided the night's eye candy. But the musical ambitions were still big as the 21-song, hour-and-50-minute set offered a healthy troll through Chesney's catalog by the singer and his tight six-piece band.

There were plenty of reliable hits -- including "Summertime," "Young," "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems," "I Go Back," "How Forever Feels," "Big Star" -- but some more recent and less-celebrated material was equally welcome and certainly held its own on stage. Songs such as "Somewhere With You" and the new single "Noise" were heavy on vibe and soulful atmospherics, while "Anything But Mine" bolstered its gentle verses with beefy choruses and "Pirate Flag" signaled a subtle hip-hop influence into the mix..

Chesney also brought his opening acts back to the stage at various points of his set. Old Dominion's Matthew Ramsey and Trevor Rosen joined him for "Save It For A Rainy Day," which they co-wrote, while Jake Owen, sporting Wimbledon-worthy whites, helped end the main set with "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy." And Miranda Lambert, still wearing the little black-and-silver dress from her own forceful 80-minute set, not only covered Grace Potter's parts on "You and Tequila" but also snatched up the night's bra offering from a fan, strapping it on for a minute before hanging it on Chesney's microphone.

And Chesney tapped bassist Harmoni Kelley to sing lead on a lusty, guitar army-style cover of AC/DC's "Whole Lotta Rosie."

It was nothing less than another notch in Chesney's belt 13 years after he began playing stadiums. The beach party flavor was certainly there, but the Spread The Love show also accented the sonic variety in his catalog, as well as Chesney's confidence in his audience to take the ride with whatever he plays -- and whoever he chooses to play it with on a given night.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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