Monday, May 26, 2008

West & Ritchie

A couple of weeks ago (shortly following the Jay/MJB show) at Madison Square Garden in NYC I went to the Kanye West and Kid Rock shows (a couple of nights apart). Well, let me tell you, what a difference between these. Everything from the crowd to the merch to the flow of the show and the style of sets, etc. was 180 degrees opposite. I know I'm pointing out the obvious, but I've included a personal photo collection to show you what I mean. See if you can guess which photo is from who's show. Duh.
So Kanye's set was pretty awesome. He had one of the best live bands playing hip-hop in the style of the original recordings that I've ever heard. Shame that they were hidden in an orchestra style pit the entire show, only to be revealed at the end. Kanye commanded the stage very well, and his 2001 bits connected the show theatrically. I don't want to give away any surprises, but I missed any puppetry as implied by his supposed work with Jim Henson's studios. The only drawback was that he was up there solo for the entire set until the end when Lupe joined him for "Touch the Sky", which delivered a welcomed freshness. That kid jumps around on stage like a spring.
As for Kid Rock, well I've seen him headline a bunch of times, as he's an old friend from Detroit. From back in the day at Majestic Theater (when a certain rap group opened up for him) to the later shows at Joe Louis and Auburn Hills and even MSG before. One thing you always know with Rock is that he puts on a show. I mean in the old-school give 'em a good time rock & roll sort of way, the guy delivers every time. The great highlights that set this tour apart (for me) of course were the guest performers. On this tour, Bob brings out Peter Wolfe from the J. Geils Band and does "Freeze Frame", "Centerfold" and "Love Stinks". I was a big fan of J. Geils in the 5th grade so this was awesome for me (I had the Freeze Frame album on cassette). Later on, Bob brings out Rev Run and does a Run-D.M.C. medley with him that includes "Here We Go", "Rock Box" and "King of Rock", amongst 5 or so other straight classics. The idea of Run performing these songs without Darryl Mack may put some off, but in this situation with Rock pitching in it just works. I felt like a kid at the Fresh Fest at Joe Louis Arena in '87.

I highly recommend going to check out either or both of these very different shows. At one (because of the surrounding crowd) you may feel a little old, at the other you may feel a little hickish, but if you like either acts' music, you will enjoy them both. Do NOT, however, drink beer through a straw at either.

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