Often the advice is given to young artists to focus their efforts on one interest as to not dilute their brand. Well when it comes to Kid Rock, he sticks up a big middle finger to that advice as over his almost 30-year career he has transcended across the hip-hop, country, and rock n’ roll genres. It’s almost too tough to predict the demographic that attend a Kid Rock concert. Last night (Feb. 16th), 18,000 fans gathered at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto for the American Rock n Roll Tour.
Kid Rock opened the show appropriately with “Greatest Show on Earth” from his latest album Sweet Southern Sugar, and it was a spectacle with every bell and whistle being thrown at us: pyrotechnics, confetti, and lighting galore. The stage consisted of a platform, jumbotron and Kid Rock’s name in lights. Kid Rock himself was decked out in a fur coat with his bare chest exposed and a gaudy belt buckle bigger than a fist. A dozen musicians and two scantily clad dancers backed him. At the bridge of the song, a butler appeared with a metal tray and a pyramid of cigarettes on top. Kid Rock picked a smoke off the top and lit it up, the queue to proceed into the final chorus. By the time the song ended, it felt like we had seen the entire show. “Good night Toronto,” Kid Rock joked.
Soon after, the stage transformed to a political rally as a podium appeared in the centre of the stage. An announcer made an introduction, “the next senator of Michigan… Kid Mother-Fuckin’ Rock.” Kid Rock re-appeared now in a studded black outfit and stood behind the podium and gave a comical yet poignant speech about wealth redistribution, racism, and the removal of religion from society. It all built up to his next song “You Never Met a Motherfucker Quite Like Me.”
Old school fans were then treated to a few songs from the early days when Kid Rock burst onto scene in the late 90s with songs like “Devil Without a Cause” and “American Bad Ass.” He then shifted to his country fans for songs like “All Summer Long,” “Cowboy” and the lead single from Sweet Southern Sugar, “Po-Dunk.” Many of the younger fans were rocking Po-Dunk shirts which read “Don’t Give a Flyin’ Hillbilly Fuck” on the back.
Kid Rock must go through more concert wardrobe changes than Madonna. His DJ and childhood friend, Paradime, poked fun at his attire saying his vest looks like he got it at a truck stop. As Kid Rock went to change yet again, Paradime gave us story time; he referred to Kid Rock as Bob and alluded to his genre shifting and how he went from wearing sneakers and a hoody to a pink tie and a boutonniere at the Grammys. The story came full circle when Kid Rock returned in a black tracksuit, and boom box in hand to kick off “Welcome 2 the Party (Ode 2 the Old School).”
Kid Rock also showed off his DJ skills when he hopped behind a turntable. As he scratched, he lit himself a stogie and poured a glass of Jim Beam. After that, he threw on a guitar to play some blues, and then got behind the drums for a cover of Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever.” Eventually he made his way to a piano to lead into “Born Free,” the last song of the main set.
After a brief break, Kid Rock returned and paid tribute to some of America’s greatest rock n’ roll musicians during “American Rock ‘n’ Roll” with bands like Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, and Tom Petty appearing on the screen behind him. A duet followed with one of Kid Rock’s backup vocalists singing the part of Sheryl Crow in the song “Picture.” However the duet was interrupted on screen by 90s cartoon icons Beavis & Butthead who jabbed at Kid Rock’s tender side, calling him “Kid Slow Rock.” This of course lit a fire under Kid Rock and segueing into his breakthrough single and finale “Bawitdaba.” Even after a two-hour set, Kid Rock leapt, stomped and head-banged though every song and much like the opening, the show ended as a spectacle of fire, lights and strippers.
Whether you came for the country songs, the rock n’ roll vibe or the old school hip-hop, Kid Rock delivered an extravagant performance worthy of being called the greatest show on earth.