Kid Rock’s newest Atlantic album (titled, simply, “Kid Rock”) finds the Detroit musician behaving much more seriously then his reputation would have you believe. It’s almost a relief, then, that his live show is still a spectacle nearly unparalleled in these days of politically correct performance. Post-Super Bowl scandal, it takes a true showman to make a confederate flag, four scantily clad strippers and a mock pro-weed presidential campaign look like family fun. But Rock does all that and more, for a multigenerational crowd that not only knows all the words but also is proud to have Rock on their side.
And proud they should be, for Rock proves the haters wrong not just by acknowledging their barbs (for instance, he addresses critics’ constant comparisons to Bob Seger in a straightforward cover of Seger’s “Night Moves”) but by showing them just how talented he is.
In a jaw-dropping segment, Rock moved effortlessly from scratching on his DJ’s turntables to teasing Black Sabbath on guitar to trading honky-tonk piano licks to filling in for his drummer for a series of pro drumrolls.
Even when he goes straightforward — as on the countrified radio hit “Picture” — he lets his acute sense of humor make its way in, shifting words around to throw off his band and cracking himself up in the process.
Rock’s songs aren’t exactly original, but by appropriating the here’s-how-it-goes approach of ’70s rock artists like Seger, Joe Walsh and his hero Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rock’s found his niche in today’s market. Though he was a joke when he first emerged with the rock-rap anthem “Bawitdaba,” when he ends his encore now with it, it feels like an obligatory nod to a younger artist who’s found the time to grow up — but not so much that he’s forgotten how to have fun.
Kid Rock plays the Tommy Hilfiger at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, N.Y., on June 11 and at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., June 12.