Concert review: Kid Rock struts his redneck shtick

  • Article by: JON BREAM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 29, 2009 - 11:46 PM

In a rollicking, profanity-laced show at the State Fair grandstand, a big crowd lapped up the loud nastiness with gusto.

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Kid Rock set the record Saturday night for the most f-bombs dropped at the State Fair grandstand. Sorry, I quit counting at 20, including his arriving onstage flipping the bird on both hands (and let’s not mention the s-bombs).

That kind of performance at the fair might offend some of you gentle readers. But there were probably no complaints from the sellout crowd of 13,262. Kid Rock was rowdy, crude and proudly lowbrow but highly entertaining for 95 hellacious minutes.

Part unashamed trailer-park hero, part sleazy tent-revival evangelist and part unrepentant rock 'n’ roll party animal, Kid Rock, 38, was all redneck populist music god. The Detroit native pledged allegiance to American and Confederate flags, toasted whiskey and beer, saluted weed and Willie Nelson, honored U.S. troops and flew his freak flag for that intersection where he resides exclusively — where Outlaw Country Road turns into Classic-Rock Avenue and where R&B Lane morphs into Hip-Hop Circle.

Kid Rock is the world’s most unabashed music fan onstage. On Saturday, he set a record for name-checking more artists in his song lyrics than any previous grandstand headliner. He acknowledged opening act Lynyrd Skynyrd in three songs, same with George Jones and gave shout outs to Willie, Waylon, Merle, Kiss, ZZ Top, among others and performed songs (or snippets thereof) by Sly Stone, the Rolling Stones, the Georgia Satellites, Ted Nugent, ZZ Top and Waylon Jennings. He rocked and rapped, crooned country and folk ballads, sang a little gospel and R&B and played guitar, piano, drums and turntables. And he strutted like Mick Jagger, did flying leaps like David Lee Roth and carried on like the American bad ass (his description) that he is.

To be sure, rap is less a part of the quotient as in the past, and Kid Rock does occasionally get serious now, as evidenced by “Amen,” a ballad with a beat about the important things in life, and “Only God Knows Why,” told from soldiers’ points of view.

Whether Kid Rock was serious or just partying in overdrive, the crowd — the drinkingest, beer-spillingest, smokingest grandstand-goers in recent memory — loved it, from “Rock n Roll Jesus” to “All Summer Long” (the anthem of 2008) to “You Never Met a Mother(f-bomb) Quite Like Me.”

The fitting opening act of this Rock and Rebels Tour was Lynyrd Skynyrd, one of rock’s first great populist regional bands. With only one original member (guitarist Gary Rossington) remaining from its 1970s heyday, Skynyrd is as much a brand name as a band name. Lead singer Johnny Van Zant, brother of the late original singer Ronnie Van Zant and Skynyrd singer since 1987, sounded hopelessly parched, and he couldn’t reach any of his high notes. The band had more bottom sound and more guitar muscle than in the past, but the hits — “Call Me the Breeze,” “Simple Man” (a ballad with big guitars) and, of course, “Free Bird” — were a perfect blast of Southern-rock warmth on a cool Northern Saturday night.

For set list go to www.startribune.com/poplife.

Jon Bream • 612-673-1719
 

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