Kid Rock throws a lush ol' party

  • Article by: JON BREAM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 16, 2012 - 7:01 AM

But he didn't really need booze to fuel his sold-out show at Mystic Lake.

Kid Rock can create a party just about anywhere. In concert with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, at a Mitt Romney rally, at a Waffle House restaurant (well, he's not so proud of that one).

How 'bout at the alcohol-free Mystic Lake Casino amphitheater?

Kid Rock without beer and booze is like Bob Dylan without a harmonica, Steven Tyler without Joe Perry or Lady Gaga without outrageous outfits. But Kid Rock -- who rivals Eminem as Detroit's biggest music hero of the past two decades -- turned Mystic's sold-out amphitheater into a big ol' party on Sunday night.

Bottles of Jim Beam stood in front of the drum kit and the turntables at Mystic. Yes, Kid Rock had a taste while the 6,122 fans were limited to water and pop. But he didn't really need Beam to fuel his show. Kid Rock is a natural showman, with a quick tongue, invigorating energy and bad-boy sexiness. Combine that with his populist taste in music -- he mashes up Motown, hip-hop, country and classic-rock with a Southern rock bent with such seamless panache -- and he came across as the king of the trailer park.

At Mystic, Kid Rock seemed as redneck as Hank Williams Jr., as blue-collar as John Mellencamp and as white trash as Lynyrd Skynyrd. His lyrics addressed patriotism, partying and other pursuits of pleasure, with lots of braggadocio in his hick-hop.

Always quick on his feet, Kid Rock tossed in rhymes about Minnesota in "Summer Long," told his lighting director to take the night off and start drinking because the sun wouldn't ever go down (the show started at 7) and made a gesture to suggest "you're kicking my butt" when the Twin Cities' own Shannon Curfman sang the hit duet "Picture" with him. (That was the only spotlight during the 105-minute show for the singer/guitarist who joined his band in 2010.)

Kid Rock didn't bring any of the pyro or flamboyant production (OK, the pole dancers) from years past. After all, as the T-shirts put it, this is the Not Touring This Year Tour. He's doing a limited number of shows, most of which are private corporate gigs.

But there's something freeing and free-wheeling about the stripped down Kid Rock. He'll grab a guitar and rip off some ZZ Tops licks or tear into Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever" on guitar and then switch to drums. The ever-versatile, remarkably musical star also took a turn on turntables, showing off his scratching skills while pouring himself a shot of Jim Beam.

His weakness -- besides women and booze -- was his voice. Sometimes he felt more like a cheerleader than a singer, aiming for Detroit soulfulness but ending up screaming at the top of his lungs.

The party animal's last Twin Cities show -- in 2009 at the State Fair -- was similarly devoid of stage gimmickry. But that night he attracted the most drinkingest, beer-swillingest crowd ever at the grandstand.

At Mystic, some of the fans were stumbling around but it was probably less about their pre-show libations and more about their high-heeled shoes trying to negotiate on the sloped lawn of the amphitheater.

After singing about the ills of turning 40, the 41-year-old Detroiter put the pedal to the floor for 1999's "Bawitdaba," his biggest rock hit with its menacing marriage of metal and hip-hop. For the first time all night, he stalked the stage, twirled his microphone, executed flying leaps -- and conducted his Twisted Brown Trucker Band like a metal orchestra.

He then offered his own review of the evening: "Not too bad for sober in the daylight. I'm positive nobody was drinking before the show."

Kid Rock didn't even have to bother to wink because he doesn't need subtlety to make his lowbrow trip highly entertaining.

set list: www.startribune.com/artcetera

Twitter: @jonbream • 612-673-1719

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