Concert Review

Kid Rock - Ak-Chin Pavilion - August 26, 2015

Kid Rock is getting old. And he seems like he is fully immersed in the phase where he really wants to explore that. If there was a pervasive sentiment to last night's jam-packed show at the Ak-Chin Pavilion, it was that time changes a person. No earth shattering news there, but at the ripe old age of 44, Kid Rock (aka Robert Ritchie) was fully engaged in addressing the universal challenges and emotions that come with nearing the big 5-0. And trust me, that shit did not fall upon deaf ears.

Most of the crowd was in Kid's age bracket and you could tell, as they rocked out and rapped along with his every word, that they've been hanging around since he dropped Devil Without A Cause back in the late '90s – his game changing release. These people were there to see their bro. Well, not everyone, there were definitely some attendees who were lined up around the stage that would have gladly taken a less familial slice of Kid Rock pie.

When the curtain – a giant twenty dollar bill with a skullified version of Kid in the center – lifted, the man and his multi-piece band took the stage and got things going with the title track from his newest release, First Kiss, a reflective song that was more than a little reminiscent of Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69." He followed that up with another newbie, "Good Times, Cheap Wine," another rock-meets-country track where he disses stuff like Coldplay (kind of fair), skinny jeans, and technology. The song tells us that he "ain't ever gonna fit in skinny jeans nor bother to read Facebook posts or tweets." Coming from the guy who spent the earlier part of his career touting Boone's wine, we're not surprised to hear that kickin' back and "chillin' the most" with some inexpensive booze is probably his preferred way to hang.
He let the crowd know that he squeezed in those new tracks right away 'cause he knows that playing them mid-set would probably just send everyone running for the beer stands. And from there he busted out some rap-rockers like "American Badass" and "Devil Without A Cause" pretty energetically. Even though it seems like Kid's lost some of his fire for rap, as he gets deeper into rock and country, he still hopped around with swagger.

The congas on "Wasting Time" gave the straightforward rap song a bit of island flair, maybe driving home a bit Kid's interest in moving away from a youth filled with braggart bravado and into his new found role as a grandfather.

After the homage-y "Johnny Cash," Kid switched his headwear to a cowboy hat which immediately inspired screams of excitement as he went into the tune "Cowboy," where he let the audience sing a lot of the lyrics. They were more than happy to. His peeps had his songbook committed to memory, word for word.

About this point in the show is where he got reflective, interspersing a bunch of songs with a narrative about how those tunes were part of his musical and personal evolution. Some of those included "Midnight Train to Memphis," "Picture" – which he sang with one of his backup singers in place of Sheryl Crow who penned and recorded the song with him — and "Jesus and Bocephus." If you were ever looking for a word to rhyme with Jesus, now you got one.

He addressed his penchant for exploring different styles of music and took some time to jump on the turntables where the screen kept focus on a bottle of Jim Beam and a shot glass. No less of a product placement that the giant Chevy logo that hung from the stage. Not sure if Beam is putting any dough into the show but the hearty nod to Chevy is what sets the ticket price at $20.

Kid played the guitar intro to "Cat Scratch Fever," and then jumped on the drums where he proved to be pretty solid at beating the skins. Though the night was loaded with flags and a pretty overarching vibe of good ol' American pride, Kid and his band really ramped it up with a video tribute to the country's fallen soldiers and a performance of "Born Free." It's a bummer that here's a dude that plays music that explores the sounds and ideas of other cultures and has toured around the world and still perpetuates a sorely myopic vision that the U.S. is the only place where one can feel free or where people care about one another. C'mon, Kid.

The band, who was loaded with talented folk, left stage and did a little outfit changing . Kid went from his t-shirt and track pants to a sports-y ensemble, complete with tube socks and a team-style tee with two big zeros on the back. In the place that usually boasts a player's name, his said "Fucks given." So, at least we know where he stands with that. The light show was pretty tame but some fire and explosion sounds accompanied the one encore, "Bawtidaba," which was delivered with gusto, letting people leave in a collectively zesty, if not boozy, mood. 

Editor's note: The picture running with this story is not from last night's concert. As much as we would have liked to have pictures from the show, we don't. The artist required photographers to sign a contract before shooting, and we found the terms unacceptable. 

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night:
Kid Rock at Ak-Chin Pavilion.

"I don't give a shit about a freckled dick."

Random Note:
Lot of little kids playing video games while their parents played balloon volleyball and rocked out to Kid.

Personal Bias:
I might drink a bottle of Boone's Farm with Kid Rock and jawbone about Midwestern stuff. 

Set List:
First Kiss
Good Times, Cheap Wine
You Never Met a Motherfucker Quite Like Me
American Badass
Devil Without A Cause
Wasting Time
Johnny Cash
Fist of Rage
Blue Jeans and a Rosary
So Hott
Jesus and Bocephus
Somebody's Gotta Feel This
Midnight Train to Memphis
All Summer Long
3 Sheets to the Wind (What's My Name)
Cat Scratch Fever
Rock N Roll Jesus
Only God Knows Why
Born Free

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Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young