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Kid Rock Comes ‘Home’ to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena

Vernell Hackett

Kid Rock was in what he terms his “second home” Friday night (February 18), bringing his Born Free tour to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. The Detroit native brought along a few friends to sweeten the evening, and looked like he was having a heck of a time performing before a sold-out crowd.

Just in case there was anyone in the audience who didn’t know who he was, the singer opened with a slide show of ‘The History of Rock.’ The presentation included photos from the early days of his career, onto pics with friends includng Sheryl Crow, Hank Williams Jr., Willie Nelson and the late Waylon Jennings, as well other celebrity figures such as President Obama.

Once the slides were finished, Kid Rock entered through swinging doors that might have been found at the entrance to any barroom in the old West. The consummate showman, the performer proceded to take his audience though his hits, fan favorites and tunes from his newest album, ‘Born Free.’ His musical history was evident as he wove through tunes from his repertoire of rap, metal and southern rock with just a little country music on the side. At one point he even moved from guitar to the turntables and on to playing drums, much to the crowd’s delight.

Vernell Hackett

The stage alternated between being bathed in laser lights to huge blasts of flames. A large longhorn cow skull hung in front of the drums, which then looked like the grill of a car behind it. Red lights on each side of the skull under the horns shone like headlights, while smoke flowed out of them. Dancers didn’t let the poles on each side of the stage go to waste, especially on some of Kid Rock’s more raucous numbers!

“You know how we do it in Nashvlle on Friday night … we let it rock ‘n roll,” Kid Rock informed the audience after opening the evening with ‘American Bad Ass.’ The crowd roared back its approval.

Fans were rowdy and appreciative of Kid Rock’s showmanship, whether he pulled a lawn chair down to the front of the stage, throwing back a little Jim Beam and singing ‘Flyin’ High‘ or encouraged them to sing along with him on ‘All Summer Long.’

The singer always stops to voice his appreciation to the folks who come out for his show, and Friday was no exception. “I want to welcome the service members who are here tonight,” he said, ” and I want to say an extra thank you to all of you who spent your money to come out and see us play for you again. We’re gonna have some fun now!”

Martina McBride wasn’t able to join Kid Rock on their duet, ‘Care.’ “She’s in San Antonio tonight,” he explained — nor was rapper TI, who sent a video for his part of the tune. “He has a good heart or he wouldn’t be on this record,” Kid Rock told the crowd about TI.

Kid Rock stopped one more time to thank fans for their support, saying, “I care because I know a lot people in here get out of bed every morning and go to work and take care of their families. It is great that we can have a night like this while people all over the world are fighting for us to have that right.”

Even though Martina and TI couldn’t be there, Kid Rock did have a couple friends drop by. Trace Adkins joined him on the Charlie Daniels classic, ‘Long Haired Country Boy.’ A little later, Sheryl Crow came forward to sing their hit ‘Picture‘ with Rock. “We’re gonna do a couple more for you if that’s okay,” Kid Rock said after they finished their duet. “You know Sheryl can rock and roll a little bit too!”

Vernell Hackett

The two then launched into Free’s ‘Alright Now,’ with Sheryl good naturedly following her buddy down the runway and dancing along with him throughout the song.

“We just shot a video for this one at Five Points [in East Nashville] and we even got Bob Seger to come in and play piano,” Kid Rock said before he and Sheryl sang their duet ‘Collide‘ from the ‘Born Free’ CD. They ended the tune with a slow dance on the stage.

“Can you believe I just celebrated my 40th birthday?” the singer asked at one point, acknowledging as the crowd toasted the recent event. “I couldn’t bring everyone to Detroit so I thought I’d just celebrate on this whole tour.”

The crowd was then treated to another video of the celebration in his home city, complete with comments by Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel, as well as a funny song penned by the birthday boy in honor of his 40 years.

Before breaking into ‘Amen,’ the singer polled his audience. “Do you believe we live in the greatest country in the world?” They were positive in their response as huge pictures of one hundred dollar bills became his backdrop on stage.

From ‘So Hott‘ to ‘Bawitdaba,’ Kid Rock brought the crowd to their feet and kept them there throughout the show. His timing was impeccable, whether he was jumping in sync with the flames or strutting down the runway to the beat of the song. Of course, the audience wouldn’t let him go without an encore, and he gave them double for their money when he brought opening act Jamey Johnson back on stage.

“Thanks for treating me and my family and friends so well when we’re in Nashville,” he said after the two of them performed his song ‘Only God Knows Why.’ He ended the night with ‘Born Free,’ as U.S. flags dropped down around the stage.

Opener Ty Stone, a fellow Detroit native, gave a rowsing performance that got the crowd going. Jamey Johnson performed a selection of his own songs including his mega hit ‘In Color‘ as well as some timeless classics like Merle Haggard‘s ‘Misery and Gin‘ and Bob Seger’s ‘Turn the Page.’ He ended his set with the Hank Williams‘ gospel number ‘I Saw the Light.’

Vernell Hackett

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