"I want you to know there's no tape recorder here tonight, no backing tracks," Kid Rock told the crowd of mock-Playboy bunnies, spaghetti-western cowboys, and C-list celebrities Thursday night at Los Angeles' Gibson Amphitheater. "This isn't American Idol. This is American badass!" Indeed.
Earlier, before Rock entered the amphitheater, some words appeared on the jumbotron screen behind the band: "Where's Kid?" Thus launching us on a mini-search party. Is Kid in the tour bus with the strippers? Nope! Is Kid outside? Don't see him. Is Kid in the Waffle House? Certainly not. So where's Kid? Cue Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" on the house speakers -- it's the, "born and raised in South Detroit" line that appeals here -- and Rock bounds onstage in a glorious white jumpsuit that would make Madonna jealous.
Opening with country-rap hybrid "Rock N Roll Jesus," Rock darted down the catwalk, his microphone spending equal time tucked into his pants as in his hands, allowing him to raise his arms and taunt the already enthusiastic crowd with come-hither fingers. On songs like "All Summer Long" and "Cowboy," little coaxing is necessary -- the audience is already squealing and sweating.
The show was divided into a few acts, each paying tribute to Rock's influences, including heated sets honoring country, rap, and rock (with matching attire to boot).At one point, he proclaimed, "Hollywood, can you feel that?" grabbing the giant diamond antlers on his belt buckle that guard the gate to his, um, jewels. When he played "Only God Knows Why," a bald man with a foot-long beard looked up at the ceiling and pounded his heart on every "God" mention. A drunk girl did the same -- only she pounded her beer.
Highlight of the night? Reverend Run -- of Run-D.M.C. fame -- joined the main man onstage, launching into nostalgic renditions of "It's Tricky" and "Walk this Way," with Rock's husky scream where Steven Tyler's shrill one once was.
"I know these are tough times," Rock told the crowd. "So I want to thank you for coming here and spending your hard-earned money. The least I can do is show you a fucking good time."
Check out pictures from last night on page 2.