Kid Rock on solid ground

February 4, 2001


To the non-discerning blue-hair convinced that rap-rock and its attendant
pro-wrestling vulgarity are evidence of the decline and fall of western civilization,
Kid Rock probably isn't distinguishable from Eminem, Fred Durst and others of their

But there is a world of difference, as evidenced by the Bullgod's show before a
packed Allstate Arena on Friday night.

For one thing, Michigan native Bob Ritchie isn't whining about how nobody
understands or appreciates him. Still riding high on the success of "Devil Without A
Cause" after 2 1/2 years and 9 million copies sold, Ritchie/Rock sported the joyful
demeanor of a man who'd won the lottery, but he wasn't taking anything for granted.

"Just sit back and let me entertain you," the consummate show-biz pro told an
enthusiastic crowd, and he delivered on that promise, sweating hard through most of
a two-hour show as explosions and geysers of flame shot off behind him, and two
go-go dancers clad in American-flag bikinis flanked him.

Another difference between Kid Rock and the other rap-rock heroes of Generation
Y is that, as much as he enjoys it, he doesn't need to rely on such spectacle (much
less hollow attempts to provoke) to mask any musical deficiencies. "The History of
Rock," he called his recent collection of assorted rarities, and the title was more than
a fitting pun.

Kid Rock has a solid idea of where he fits in the musical firmament. He deftly
extends the tradition of hard-rocking, beer-drinking, party-on-down guitar bands
(heavy on the Lynyrd Skynyrd and Ted Nugent) to link up with the good-time,
house-party tradition of old-school hip-hop, finally fulfilling the promise that
Run-DMC and Aerosmith hinted at when they first collided in 1986.

When he covered "Jumping Jack Flash" by the Stones and "Second Hand News" by
Fleetwood Mac, Kid Rock didn't just do them justice; he did them better than those
bands could today. And if any doubt still remained about his musicality, he rubbed it
out while relieving the members of his Twisted Brown Trucker Band for star turns
behind the guitar, drums and turntables.

In fact, the only time the set lagged was when Kid Rock turned the mike over to his
DJ and songwriting partner. Unkle Kracker is no substitute for the sadly departed
Joe C., and if Kid Rock really feels like he needs a mid-set breather, he'd better find
a more engaging sidekick and substitute front man.

Opening an evening dubbed the "Karnival of Kaos" by sponsoring shock-jock
Mancow Muller were two thoroughly generic purveyors of empty bombast: Buck
Cherry and Fuel, either of whom could have been Poison or Bon Jovi in a different
era with much more hair and makeup.

As for the bullying emcee Muller and his talentless ensemble of freaks and geeks,
their copious nudity, profanity and toilet humor seemed tired and old hat--more
boring than shocking--indicating that his 15 minutes of fame may well be at 14:55
and counting.