Kid Rock returns to Vancouver to show he hasn't grown up
At Rogers Arena on Tuesday, May 17
In case you haven’t heard, Robert James “Bob” Ritchie celebrated his 40th birthday earlier this year. The man otherwise known as Kid Rock wasn’t about to let it go unnoticed either, as fans who showed up to Rogers Arena on Tuesday night to hear the southern rap-rock icon sing his classics were treated to a video montage chronicling his life. Highlights included embarrassing childhood photographs (including a flattop haircut), video birthday greetings from Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, and Jon Stewart, and recent shots of our man hanging out with beautiful topless women.
For those that forgot to bring a belated gift, Kid Rock took care of that: what better way to make his extended special day a memorably lucrative one than by charging fans $50 for a T-shirt that read “Fuckin’ 40” on the back.
With all the hype surrounding the Stone Cold Pimp’s ascent into middle age, one would think that it would lend to a more grown-up live show. After all, Born Free, Kid Rock’s seventh—yes, seventh—and latest studio album, is heavy on the country-blues sensibilities and noticeably light on misogynistic lyrics, a stark departure from his 1998 breakthrough, Devil Without a Cause.
The Kid’s Vancouver show didn’t quite deliver the maturing musician some were expecting. Instead, we got a piece of unrepentant trailer trash who was as wild and chauvinistic as ever.
Kicking off his set with the egoistic rap-metal of “American Bad Ass”, Kid Rock set the tone for the evening as tribal-tattooed, wife-beater-adorned audience members thrashed about in appreciation.
The former husband of Canada’s decidedly unconventional sweetheart Pamela Anderson didn’t totally kick his new stuff to the corner. He followed up his opener with “God Bless Saturday,” a good ol’ rock ’n’ roll song featuring plenty of Skynyrd-style guitar licks.
Still, Kid Rock was careful not to bore audience members who might not be familiar with Born Free, constantly switching between oldies and the new stuff. This gave the night an overall scattered tone.
The recognizable twang and swagger of “Cowboy”, which featured onstage strippers, not only hyped the crowd mid-show, but also left no doubt that misogyny is truly alive and kicking in the heart of Kid Rock. But then the mood dipped drastically when the Detroit showman sat down alone to play “Care”, a heart-wrenching piano ballad which was accompanied by what looked like a World Vision commercial on the JumboTron.
By the time the man of the evening sat down in a lawn chair and proceeded to sip whiskey from the bottle (living up to his hard-partying reputation), those in the crowd were probably a few too many beers deep to fully process what the hell was going on. That didn’t stop them from cheering on Rock through a sermon where he rambled on about how he’s stayed grounded despite his unlimited fame and money. Yeah, Bob, we’re buying that.
After singing himself a little birthday tune that went by the name of “Fuckin’ Forty”, Rock went on to impress the packed hockey rink by showing off his scratching skills, ripping up some Cat Stevens on guitar, and owning the drum kit—all within one song. Fans were similarly thrilled when he finally busted out the heavy, hard-rocking “Bawitdaba” at the end of his set.
As if the several American flags, eagle images, and, well, his entire career left any doubt that he was proud to be from the U.S.A., the encore numbers “All Summer Long” and “Born Free” confirmed the Kid’s flagrant American patriotism. His northern fans didn’t seem to mind.
By night’s end, it became clear that, although celebrating his 40th birthday, Bobby Ritchie hasn’t grown up quite yet. Instead, he just keeps getting better at what he does, and that’s being Kid Fucking Rock.