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detroit rock city

March 16, 2013

Bob Seger and Kid Rock in Minnesota

I’ll be the first to admit, I was pretty skeptical of Kid Rock and Bob Seger sharing the bill at last night’s concert. I wasn’t completely sure what a hardcore Kid Rock fan looked like, but I was pretty sure I knew what a Bob Seger crowd would be (old guys, my usual and favored concert milieu). In actuality the crowd was pretty visibly divided, but overcame any potential differences by apparently drinking all of the beer the Xcel Energy Center had available. This was by far one of the drunkest crowds I’ve ever been in, and the general appearance of the folks rivaled that time I made it through about six songs at a Bon Jovi concert in Portland. Needless to say, the pre-show people watching was pretty incredible.

However, despite two pretty distinctive subsets of audience members the show made a surprising amount of sense. I know that Bob Seger is one of Kid Rock’s musical heroes and Rock was very reverent throughout the night. Opening his show by telling the crowd that this is what it looks like when dreams come true. His set actually blew me away. His distinctive mix of southern (Detroit) rock and hip-hop elements translated beautifully in an arena setting. His band was tight and loud and maybe it’s just because I usually only see performers aged 60+ but I was totally carried away by the kinetic energy of the show. I could have done without the bizarre hyper-patriotic video montage, but he zeroed straight in on his audience with clips of American flags, Harleys, and men and women in uniform.

I will admit that after the pyrotechnics (both literal and figurative) of Kid Rock’s show there was a somewhat jarring transitional moment when the lights came up on Bob and the Silver Bullet Band. The stage was set-less, the horn section was all wearing dad jeans and short-sleeve plaid shirts. Gone was Kid Rock’s hyper-sexy backup singer and in her place were three ladies who could all be her mother. The music was there, but you just had to chuckle at the contrast.

Bob Seger & Kid RockSeger himself looked to be having a fucking blast. Grinning ear to ear between songs, and dishing out lots of the back stories on how each song came to be. Many of the songs were introduced with “see if you remember this one!” He prefaced “Like a Rock” by saying “If you’re 26, and you’re here tonight, you weren’t even born the last time we played this!” All the blacked out Kid Rock fans shoved their drinks and the air and howled at this, not completely sure why.

The current of nostalgia was running strong through Seger’s set, playing many of his greatest hits. But the emotional climax of the show for me was the back-to-back pairing of “Against the Wind” and “Roll Me Away” – both incredible songs about the shaky footing of fleeting young freedom. Coming from a 67-year-old Seger the words carried the weight of wisdom and hindsight. He nailed both numbers and I might have gotten a little misty-eyed… (No one around me noticed though because they were all just struggling to stay upright at this point).

The night closed out with an encore that had that elusive quality of real spontaneity. Rock and Seger played this show (and one tonight in Fargo) in between their own separate tours, and witnessing their first finale together was a real delight. Seger came out first and launched into the first chords of “Night Moves.” When Kid Rock joined him it wasn’t quite pure synchronicity but they were both palpably digging it. To the delight of Rock’s fans the next song was his hit riff on Sweet Home Alabama “All Summer Long.” The next number though, I don’t think anyone was prepared for. Rock introduced it by saying as a cocky young kid, he could imagine himself one day sharing a stage with his hero Bob Seger, but if you had told him that they’d be singing this next song he would have “slapped the taste out of your mouth.” The song was Rock’s hip-hop heavy “Forever” and Seger played a lead role in it, spitting out verses like “Bitch I told ya/do not hate.” I don’t know what was more surreal, seeing Bob Seger rapping with Kid Rock or seeing the older ladies one row over head-banging along. It was a pretty perfect encapsulation of the multigenerational affair that this concert was. The night closed with a nod to the nostalgia of Seger’s set with “Rock and Roll Never Forgets.”

I had no idea what to expect going into last night’s show, having never seen Seger or Kid Rock. But if this was a test-run for a possible future joint tour, I’d say it passed with flying colors.

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