Last Saturday Night the wife and I ventured north to the Woodlands for the “Rock n Rebels” tour featuring Kid Rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Rev. Run.
After meeting Chris and Cindy at Chuy’s for a couple of margaritas to fortify ourselves, we piled into the car and headed for the venue. Traffic was backed up to the freeway which is a bad sign. We exited and drove around the Woodlands Mall following the parking signs. I miss the old days when you could just park in the back of the mall’s massive parking lot and walk to the show. Instead, we spent half an hour creeping through the woods to a parking lot and then walking back through those same woods to the venue.
That’s when the fun really picked up.
They were searching everyone thoroughly before they let them in. This slowed things down considerably. It was hotter than hell outside on Saturday so the crowd got a little rambunctious, but nobody pulled a gun or a knife. One guy dropped trou, but really, given the crowd, that wasn’t unexpected.
We finally made it in and grabbed some beers. At $9/per we weren’t going to be grabbing many. We trekked up the hill and found a nice four-wide spot on the right side of the hill. We had a decent shot of the stage, as evidence below.
The show was sold out and the hill was packed with all kinds of folks.
There was a lot of ink in evidence as well. From old-school prison tattoos to nu-rock tribal stuff, ink was everywhere.
The opening act was called Back Door Slam. I’d never heard of them, but they played some decent southern boogie. Then to my surprise, they turned out to be British. Who says Southern Rock isn’t international? Late in their short set, Chris pointed out that all of the A’s in the band’s logo reminded him of Eric Cartman mooning a camera. Blame it on the heat, the bossanova or Rio, but that was the first time I got the band’s name. I’m getting old dear readers.
After a quick set change and beer run, it was time for Skynyrd.
I saw the reunited band back on their first tour (or “tur” as Johnnie Van Zant would say) back in 1987. It was supposed to be a one off tour commemorating the band and the fateful plane crash that ended it. Turned out, it was the warmup lap for a neverending tour. Back then, Van Zant looked for all the world like a little brother fronting his big brother’s band. This time out, he was clearly a part of the band. He name checked big brother a few times, but was otherwise clearly in charge of the stage.
I once postulated that Michael Anthony might be the luckiest guy alive. I take it back. That honor goes to Johnnie Van Zant. He never has to write a song again. All he has to do is take the stage, sign the songs from “Gold & Platinum” and remember his lines. That’s it. Pretty cool gig I’d say.
With only 2 original members left, this version of Skynyrd is hardly the band that created all the songs we know and love/hate from classic rock radio. That said, this band was really good. They opened with “Working for MCA” which got a bigger response than I would have expected. They they played an hour’s worth of greatest hits without ever missing a beat. There were a couple of problems with the sound and the tempo, but nothing to gripe about.
Somewhere late in the set it occurred to me that this was the first show I’d been to in a long time at which nobody yelled “Freebird” in a sad attempt at irony. Nobody had to. They knew they were going to hear it. And hear it we did.
After “Gimme 3 Steps.” “What’s Your Name,” “That Smell,” “Simple Man” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” the band left the stage for the obligatory curtain call. Then out they came and launched into “Freebird.” The last time I saw Skynyrd, Van Zant came out, placed a Ronnie Van Zant hat on the mic and left the stage. This time he sang the song and the crowd absolutely ate it up.
A few obsrvations.
Apparently “Simple Man” is a mating song. I had no idea. This lovely couple went from grinding to open mouth kissing (or maybe it was CPR) during the song.
Laura and I couldn’t decide if this guy looked more like Joe Walsh (me) or Jim Gaffigan after a Hot Pockets bender (her). Either way, dude could dance.
And finally, even pirates love Skynyrd.
Then it was time for the main event. After a verse and half of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” for no apparent reason other than the line “born and raised in South Detroit,” Kid Rock hit the stage. And he hit it hard.
I really like Rock’s schtick. I like the way he’s evolved. I like the way he is able to mix and match his influences seamlessly. I like that tonight, to my surprise he had enough songs to do what was essentially a greatest hits set.
Riding high on the success of his current hit “All Summer Long” (previously hits for Skynyrd and Warren Zevon) Rock proved to be quite a showman. I was a little disappointed that he couldn’t get Gary Rossington on stage to play the guitar part on “All Summer Long,” but its still a fun song.
He had a Sheryl Crow proxy on stage for “Picture” and traded vocal jabs with his drummer during “Half Your Age.” Speaking of his drummer, the Brown Trucker Band was great. Twin lead guitars blazed all night and didn’t have to play second fiddle to a sequencer or the DJ.
Rock showed his versatility by taking over the turntables for a while. Then he took a turn on the guitar, playing the riffs from “Tush” and “Cat Stratch Fever.” He ended his Grohlike one-man solo behind the drum kit, bashing away as he sang a verse of the aforementioned Nuge nugget.
The highlight of the set was when Rock brought out Rev. Run of Run-DMC fame. Rock played DMC and the duo tore through an impressive semi-medly of Run-DMC hits. From “King of Rock” to “Walk This Way” they were all there. The crowd was enthusiastic and sang/rapped along. It was fun to see.
Rock ended with “Bawitdaba” just before the Woodlands curfew. Nobody left disappointed.
Just a few more random images from the show.
She got the award for our favorite ho of the evening. Photo courtesy of my wife, Laura. Her significant other had on a t-shirt that said “I (heart) cameltoe.” Stay classy!
Before her husband (right) got to the show, the blonde (left) was canoodling with another guy on their tarp. The other guy hung around all night. Weird.