Kid Rock The American Bad Ass fires one up for the fans
Live at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois April 14, 2006
Concert Review by Scott "Dr. Music" Itter




The "straight out the trailer" rap rocker had me thinking about The Who as I exited the holding cell they call Allstate Arena on this Friday night. There were many keywords that belonged to the mood of the evening, most of them having four letters, but the word that gets branded on my memory of the show is "bargain." It's not because Rock did a cover of The Who's "Bargain," nor is it because the word was ever spoken. I attach the word "bargain" to this show because of the light show, the energy, the long set of music, and the overall party atmosphere that Rock delivered for a measly, hard earned $35 ticket price.

There were so many highlights to this show I'm not real sure where to start. So, let's start at the beginning. As the band hit the stage just after 9:00 p.m. on this Good Friday, the Stone Cold Pimp of the Motherf**kin' Nation was nowhere to be found, at least for the first 5 or 10 minutes. You see, Rock gave his Twisted Brown Trucker Band time to say "Hello" and make their presence known. As they traded guitar licks, scratched records on the turntables, and played the beginning riffs to various hits like "Bawitdaba," you got a sense of unity and contentedness out of the unit. As the band wound down their intro session, the man of the hour rose slowly from the floor of a catwalk behind the drum kit. Dressed in what appeared to be a black and white striped fur coat, he galloped across the catwalk and down one of the bookend staircases, and quickly shed the fur and stood at center stage for his hungry fans. Once his larger-than-life security gorilla strolled off to stage right with his fur, Rock broke into "Where You At Rock" from his breakthrough "Devil Without A Cause" disc. Immediately, the crowd became an integral part of this rock show - and yes, this is a rock show. Although Rock may tip the scale toward Rap a bit more than Rock at times, his live show is a big, classic formula, arena rock show. With explosions, towering flamethrowers, and sparkler pyro units that spray upward as well as down, this was a set that was packed with enough pyro to make the local Fire Department glance toward the stage. But the eye candy didn't end there. Rock places a film screen high in the middle of the stage set, and runs images of many of his musical heroes during the show. And of course, he had to keep the sleaze in the show by having two blonde pole dancers atop each of the staircases. Yes, delicious eye candy indeed.

Now, although this show was saturated with visual flash, it never really detracted from the music, and that is why the show stayed effective. The typical, low class, jive trash talk of the gangsta rapper was also non-existent here; and in its place was an appreciative Rock that expressed himself by thanking the crowd for spending their hard earned money to be there. Besides satisfying the crowd of about 10 or 12,000 with a two hour set of tunes, Rock made the place feel like a friendly, good time party in the living room of his house. As the band made their way through songs like "Son Of Detroit," "American Bad Ass," and my favorite Kid Rock song, "You Never Met A Motherfucker Quite Like Me," the good time vibe never really subsided. Some of the great musical highlights of the set included the band extending their homage to Skynyrd in the rocker "Forever," by doing the entire first verse of "Free Bird" with the late great Ronnie Van Zant looking down from the film screen heavens; it was simply chilling. Also appearing on the direct feed from the Gods was the late Joe C., Rock's midget mascot and sidekick that passed in November of 2000. His rap in "Devil Without A Cause" was done in its entirety from the screen as the crowd erupted with joyous love for the pint-sized rapper. It was another chilling moment.

During the duration of the set we heard bits of AC/DC, ZZ Top, Skynyrd, The Ramones, and even a full blown cover of Dobie Gray's classic "Drift Away," a tune that Rock's DJ, Uncle Kracker, covered on his solo album, "No Stranger to Shame." More great musical moments came when Rock orbited from one instrument to another displaying his talents. Starting on the turntables, and moving to the guitar, keyboards, drums, and even banjo, Kid Rock showed that he is more than your average hip-hopper; this guy is a real talent. The encores held a few surprises as well. Just as he rose from behind the drum kit to begin the show, he was once again resurrected, only this time he was sitting in front of a baby grand piano. As he completed "Only God Knows Why," he went directly into his smash hit "Picture," a tune originally done as a duet with Sheryl Crow. To keep things fun, instead of singing all the verses himself, Rock employs his soulful lady drummer, Stefanie Eulinberg, to sing Crow's parts. It turns into a very "family"-like interaction with the big rock star and his beloved bandmate under the speckles of the enormous mirror ball that dotted all the eyes in the place. And one other thing about the moment& This older crowd actually had lighters to ignite instead of using the LCD cell phone screens that have recently taken over as the ballad vigil tool. Ah yes, it was nice. As he finishes the show with "Cowboy" and "Bawitdaba" from his breakthrough "Devil Without A Cause" disc, we get a culmination of all the wonderful things that went on previously in the show; towering flames, explosions, sparklers, and a band with enough firepower to keep up with it all.


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