Tailgaters were in full effect three hours before Foreigner and Kid Rock hit the stage in Tampa (July 18th). Trucks, beer, sleeveless shirted guys, girls in shorts wearing boots, and Confederate flags as far as the eye could see. Kid Rock always packs the house in Tampa, but what a special treat to have legendary rockers, Foreigner, kick off the show with a hit-laden setlist. When you first hear Kelly Hansen’s voice, you are either blown away at how close he sounds to Lou Gramm or simply amazed at his vocal power. Double Vision, Head Games, Cold As Ice, Dirty White Boy, it was an onslaught of uptempo tracks that quickly got all of the empty seats filled to capacity. Without ever slowing down, the crowd jumped to their feet for “Urgent” powered by another killer saxophone solo by Thom Gimbel (interviewed here last week). Fans may have came primarily to see Kid Rock but the veteran rockers held their own with a three song finale that stole the night.
Following a drum solo, Kelly Hansen rose from the middle of the crowd on a riser as the intro to “Juke Box Hero” played. In full rock star mode, Kelly raised his fist in the air to each anthemic line of the song. When Kelly made it back on stage, original and founding member, Mick Jones, tore into the song’s guitar solo with a fury. During Foreigner’s encore, Kelly asked the audience to hold the hand of someone next to you and feel the love tonight. “I Want To Know What Love Is” featured a local choir of teenage girls from Tampa. My only complaint, the choir’s voices were never featured loud enough to hear over the band and the eager crowd singing along. Foreigner’s set ended with a sexy romp on the high energy rocker, “Hot Blooded”. Audience members showed off some dirty dancing moves to the line “Come on baby, do you do more than dance?” and the band left to smoke bombs and huge thunderous applause.
Quickly, Kid Rock’s stage was set up and “First Kiss” opened the show. How many rockers open with a new song? After the huge crowd reaction, Kid Rock gleefully joked that every other band sneaks the new songs into the middle of the set and you turn to your buddy and say “hey, let’s grab a drink“, but tonight it worked perfectly . If you’ve ever been a Kid Rock show, you know that you never know what’s coming next. Mixing multiple music genres, cover songs, guest stars, and tonight in Tampa didn’t disappoint. Kid Rock dusted off the oldies early in the show with a rendition of Devil Without A Cause and a rare version of Wasting Time, even sneaking in a few Justin Bieber dance moves during the song.
Midway through the set, Kid Rock slowed things down and told the crowd that life sneaks up on you, he confessed to becoming a grandfather at 44. While reflecting upon his songwriting career, Rock stated he has the desire and the power to give back to world and truly make a difference. Going acapella (which rock stars are brave enough to do that today!) he sang the opening lines of “Care“. He quickly contrasted that mindset reminiscing about being 24 years old, sitting up in his room with an electric guitar and a mixer, ready to vent. A heavy metal version of “Fists Of Rage” followed. Snippets of songs as diverse of Midnight Train To Memphis, Jesus and Bocephus, and Somebody’s Gotta Feel This were all featured tonight. Highlights: Kid Rock professed you live you learn, “I met the most beautiful and stupidest woman in the world” and ended up writing songs like this (Blue Jeans And A Rosary). Funniest moment of the night: Kid Rock’s story of his mom calling him out for writing a song as sexual as “So Hot”. I guess you’re never too old to have your parents discipline you.
Despite the Confederate flags overpowering the parking lot, none were seen on stage. The Cheap Date Tour was sponsored by Chevrolet, together with Kid Rock they held ticket and t-shirt prices to $20 and beer cost $4. A three minute patriotic video showcased our American pride. Our country was built on hard working middle-class American people, regardless of political party, who all believed in a dream. The video paid homage to our troops protecting our freedoms as it segued into “Born Free“. The backdrop of the stage featured a massive U.S. flag with golden eagles in the corners and a Chevrolet banner up top. A passionate sing-along version of “Picture” with Shannon Curfman was followed by Kid Rock’s now-famous rotating turns at the DJ mixer, drums, and even a vintage Peter Frampton-styled guitar solo. Of course, “Bawitdaba” closed the night complete with lasers, explosions, some Kid Rock screams, as a sold out Tampa crowd belted out every word in unison.
On a side note, what an honor and pleasure to get “Meet And Greet” Foreigner passes from my girlfriend prior to the show. Besides our two tickets, she was given two extra backstage passes. We noticed a sixteen year boy attending his very first concert and his mom, a lifelong Foreigner fan near the meet and greet area. On this rainy afternoon in a twist of the “Juke Box Hero” story, we gave them the extra back stage tickets and made his first concert experience one he’ll never forget.