Kid Rock, you crazy rock 'n' roll animal. You won me over with a turntable and flames. I knew this was going to happen the second you blindfolded your lead guitar player while he was tearing into the solo of “All Summer Long,” and that was only a song and a half in. You were grinning in that fedora that you like to flip the brim up like you belonged in Run-D.M.C.
I was afraid that you were going to play a lot of those newer songs you’ve taken to writing lately. You know, the ones that sound a little too country for an American Badass like yourself? You opened up with “First Kiss,” and to be perfectly honest, the years of Jim Beam and cigars have not been kind to your vocal chords.
After that first song, I thought for sure the night was going in the wrong direction and that the closest we would get to seeing the Kid Rock of old would maybe be the obligatory run through “Cowboy” sprinkled in with a string of new songs that lacked the requisite bravado that we all came for.
Boy howdy was I wrong.
You and your crowded band full of backup singers, saxophonists, interpretive dancers, and other musicians took the audience — and by proxy America — to heights previously only navigated by bald eagles.
I wanted to leave my seat and grab a beer, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the stage for fear of missing some of the fun. I thought I saw an opening in the set list after you performed “Picture,” a riveting duet you recorded with Sheryl Crow and Allison Moorer. I could not have been more wrong. A song I didn’t recognize on the set list called “Three Sheets To The Wind” ended up being the high point of the entire night!
“Three Sheets” introduced his alter ego Bobby Shazam to the NRG stadium crowd of 66,540, a DJ who specializes in expertly chopping up what else but Kid Rock records on the turntable. I didn’t realize that Bobby Shazam was you until he took a giant slug from a glass of Jim Beam, but when that happened and the crowd lost it, I really wish I’d had a beer in my hand to toast your showmanship.
Of course, you had much more in store during that song. You play drums too? You own one of those talk boxes for your guitar? I hoped the song would go on for the rest of the night. Kid Rock, you really know how to own the moment.
I’m glad the show moved on, though. Less time showcasing your multi-instrumentalist chops means more time getting to the real meat of your career. “Cowboy,” “Only God Knows Why,” “Rock and Roll Jesus,” “Born Free.” These are the stuff fireworks are made of, and you brought plenty of that too.
The amped up way you tore into “Only God Knows Why” was much different than the steely ballad on 1998's Devil Without a Cause, but Tuesday night’s performance absolutely called for it.
Even after glittery bursts of pyrotechnics punctuated most of your set, I was still taken by absolute surprise when the perimeter of the stage went to full on flame throwing mode for your set list closer, “Bawitdaba.” Those fireballs were so big, so powerful, that I could feel the heat on my face from my seat in section 549. I couldn’t look away. As you brought the house down with that deliciously ridiculous blend of rap and metal that made you famous, it looked like a nuclear war zone on the field.
Why oh why did you get a Tuesday night billing at RodeoHouston this year? You sent too many rowdy fans out of the stadium and back into the middle of their work week instead of the great American wild of a Spring Break weekend. Was it because this was the second time you lit a cigar on stage? I promise I won’t tell anyone about that if it means you get to play on a Friday the next time you visit NRG Stadium.
All Summer Long
Three Sheets To The Wind
Rock and Roll Jesus
Only God Knows Why