July 24, 2013 (View the full slideshow.)
Robert Ritchie, better known as Kid Rock, is no longer a kid, but last night at Ak-Chin Pavilion he proved that he could still rock with the best of them with an energetic performance.
As the lights went out, Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" blasted until -- of course -- it reached, "Just a city boy / born and raised in South Detroit." Then Rock's silhouette appeared in the middle of a huge $20 bill banner covering the stage, and the show was on.
The band wasted no time revisiting their back catalog with a rocking version of the title track from 1998's Devil Without a Cause where Rock sang "Too old to kid but too soft to rock." During the song, Rock paid tribute to Joe C., as his old pal appeared on the big screen.
"Celebrate" wasn't quite the "Celebration" that openers Kool & the Gang brought, but the Vegas-esque track got people out of their seats.
"But it's a dry heat . . . Whatever, it's hot as shit," Rock said, before "You Never Met a Motherfucker Quite Like Me." From the looks of the crowd, he made them feel like they were all as unique and special as he was.
The Metallica-infused "American Badass" featured a motivational quote from a real American badass, Evel Knievel, about taking chances in life.
That's the thing about Kid Rock: He started as a white rapper turned rap-rocker and ended up a crossover-country act all by taking chances while sticking to his white trash roots.
"We got some Kool & the Gang moves too, check it out," he said, taking another chance, and his band members showed their moves during "Wasting Time." Later on, "Forever" was mashed up with Rush's "Tom Sawyer."
A patriotic video played before "Born Free," with the American flag serving as a background. The encore got off to a bit of a shaky start, with one of Rock's female singers replacing Sheryl Crow for "Picture." She couldn't quite hit the notes Crow did in the studio.
"All Summer Long" got the best response of the night next, and "Bawitdaba" closed the show.
It may not have been the "Best Night Ever," as the tour promised, but it may have been the best show that his fans will pay $20 dollars to see for a long time.
Critics Notebook: Last Night: Kid Rock at Ak-Chin Pavilion. Personal Bias: I would never listen to a Kid Rock record, but I think he is the of the best showmen out there.
The Crowd: Older folks as expected, more rock than country. Overheard in the crowd: "This isn't the best looking crowd I've seen here." Better than: Most shows you'll see for $20.