Near the end of Friday night’s explosive Kid Rock concert at the Huntington Center, he was wrung out and soaked with sweat, crouched on the stage at the end of “Rock N Roll Jesus.”
He muttered a barely perceptible “whew” that only people close to the stage may have noticed, and the sentiment seemed to be less an expression of exhaustion as it was supreme satisfaction.
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The nearly two-hour, sold-out show was consummate Kid Rock: ferociously energetic, over-the-top narcissistic and tremendous fun. Blending hard rock, rap, country, and rhythm and blues, the Detroit-area frontman and his 11-member band delivered a powerful, engaging concert that had the audience on its feet the entire show.
Rock’s a strangely endearing combination of superstar and common man, managing to come across like the cockiest person in the room and at the same time the most down-to-earth. He’s the only musician I’ve ever seen who provides the audience with a countdown to show time so there’s no guessing how long you have to grab a beverage or use the restroom.
A pair of Zenobia Shriners came on stage before the show and gave a pitch for their organization, encouraging the rowdy audience to buy Rock CDs, proceeds of which went to the organization.
At a Kid Rock show.
Wearing maroon fezzes.
Fifteen minutes later Rock was singing the praises of whiskey and weed, screaming every profanity imaginable, and flying around the stage like a hyperactive feral cat. His stringy hair hung like oily tendrils from under his black hat and for a man whose sponsor is Jim Beam and who at one point in the show smoked a fat stogey, he’s surprisingly fit and athletic.
The set kicked off with “Celebrate” and featured songs from throughout his career, including the anthemic “All Summer Long,” noisy Kid Rock love fests such as “Cowboy,” and good-time party songs like “Redneck Paradise."
A highlight was an extremely cool use of video footage to kick off “American Bad Ass.”
Film of daredevil motorcyclist Evel Knievel played in the background, the music synced to his jumps before the song roared to life.
The usual Kid Rock set piece featured him manning some turntables and showing off his DJ skills while pouring himself a healthy shot of Jim Beam Devil’s Cut — one of the tour’s major sponsors along with Harley-Davidson motorcycles — and lighting a big cigar that created a cloud of smoke over his head.
The highlight of the show was a slamming version of Bob Seger’s “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” that the band ripped into after Rock played a solo acoustic version of a brand new song he wrote after sharing the stage with Seger.
Rock understands his audience and he knows Toledo and the choice to cover the song was savvy and smart. It turned an already excellent show into something that felt a little more special.
Contact Rod Lockwood at: email@example.com or 419-724-6159.