Saturday, 28 May 2011

Kid Rock Born Free Concert at the Air Canada Concert

Kid Rock’s Born Free Tour exploded into the Air Canada Centre on May 27th 2011. After a nice opening set by hometown based The Trews, the highlight of which was their poignant “Highway of Heroes”, Kid Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker band unleashed a masterpiece of a show.

It opened with a video collage of photos and video footage from when he was young up to the present and then he made his entrance on the stage which looked like an old-time bar in someone’s basement, with wood paneling, and members of the band set up on the bar counter tops.
He walked through the saloon doors in the centre and just totally rocked out. I loved that songs from his lesser known most recent and most mellow album, Born Free, were sprinkled between the crowd rousers.

Midway through the show he talked about turning 40 earlier this year and a video played greetings from many celebrities, mainly talk show hosts sending him birthday wishes. He then informed the crowd that he intended to turn this whole tour into a yearlong 40th birthday party and launched into a hilarious song, “Fuckin’ 40”, which I could certainly relate to.

His greatest songs, “Cowboy” and “Bawidaba” were executed to perfection and I was happy that he played some other personal favourites, “Sugar” which for some reason he hadn’t played on his “Rock N’ Roll Jesus” tour, as well, he led us into the chant of his name from “3 Sheets to Wind” before taking to the DJ decks for a demonstration of incredible scratching, while pouring himself a shot of Jim Beam and then standing up on the bar top all the while continuing to scratch, he then played some lead guitar before taking over the drum kit.

At one point, five bar stools were set up in the middle of the stage as three guitarists, including Rock and the two backup singers sat down to play. Rock introduced the song by saying before he had hit the road an interviewer asked what could be expected from this tour, his response was “Strippers and stripping down”. By stripping down he was referring to the acoustic rendition of “Purple Sky” which followed. By the way the strippers were fantastic too.

Aside from excellent music and musicianship the there was a full-fledged visual assault of pyrotechnics, lasers, fireworks, video effects, to compliment the aforementioned strippers, all of which just totally worked and never seemed overdone, or detracted from the incredible music.

Kid Rock himself, in my opinion, best showman of this century, was so spirited, jumping around, dancing, high-fiving members of the audience, acknowledging signs and giving the audience his sincere gratitude for spending our hard earned money to come see him.

The encore consisted of a wonderful, funky stripped down version “All Summer Long” with Kid Rock dancing and playing maracas. He then sat down at the piano to play “Only God Knows Why”. The piano rose out of the stage revealing USA and Canada flags as it turned a 360 and then Kid Rock climbed up on top of the piano until it retracted back into the stage. He closed with the best song of the “Born Free” album, which is its title track.

I’ve been to many great concerts throughout the years, but this one concert, was the best I’ve ever witnessed.

10 *s

Call Me Russell

Russell Peters is a comic genius. On May 6th, I attended his show at Casino Rama. I’d seen him many times in the past, at small clubs before he was very well known and at big shows. This was the first time in a long time I had seen him, and I’d always enjoyed him a lot, but he was operating on a whole different level on this night.

See, many comics have a routine that they take on tour and do from city to city, but there was so much interaction with the audience at this show and it showed how naturally funny Russell is. Not only that, but he took the tidbits that he got from the audience and masterfully stitched them into stories. He interwove these segments with the prewritten segments masterfully and it is for that reason that I proclaim that Russell Peters is a comic genius.

A week later I picked up my first e-book. “Call Me Russell,” is an autobiography written along with his brother Clayton Peters and acclaimed screenwriter Dannis Koromilas. This is not a humorous book. Do not buy this book expecting big laughs.

In this book you will learn about Russell, as a man, where he comes from and what he values. The tale starts long before he was born, tracing his roots from his grandparents in India, to his parents’ migration to Canada and then his own story, his upbringing and the his route into comedy and stardom.

I was able to relate to this book for a few reasons, one being that I migrated to Canada with my family when I was very young; because I am familiar with the area where Russell grew up and writes about in the book; and because I am one year younger than Russell, so we grew up in the same era.

This book offers a deep insight into a Canadian comic icon and if that appeals to you then I recommend this book otherwise I suggest you pass.

Friday, 27 May 2011

127 Hours

Without a doubt the most decorated movie of the past year was The King's Speech. It won four of the twelve Oscars it was nominated for, including Movie of the Year, yet I have to admit that I didn't care for it. This dumbfounds just about everyone that I tell, but in a word, I found the movie to be quite dull. 

Another movie that garnered much accolade during the award season earlier this year was 127 Hours and I just couldn’t imagine a full length movie whose sole topic was a man trapped in the wilderness, but I came across an opportunity to see it and decided to find out what all the fuss was about. 

Right from the opening seconds I was hooked and I realized that this was a movie that I was going to enjoy, I could tell from the music and from the pacing of the shots.  This movie did not disappoint, in fact, it exceeded my expectations.  

Admittedly there were a few times where I felt lost, but these were during the scenes depicting Aron Ralston’s delirium, so it was appropriate that I wasn’t able to make sense of it.  

Danny Boyle’s directing was masterful and Jon Harris must have worked his fingers to the bone editing the shots so tightly.  This film really gives one an appreciation for fine film making.  Full credit also to James Franco for his outstanding on-camera appearance, in what could only be a difficult role to play.    

From what I’ve read after watching the movie, what we see on the screen is incredibly true to what actually happened.  

Well worth seeing! 


Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Kid Rock's Born Free Album

I became a Kid Rock fan on June 5, 1999. That was the day that he performed his song, “Bawitdaba” on the MTV Music Awards. That performance singularly melded rock and rap the way Run DMC intended it to be when they teamed with Aerosmith on “Walk this Way” in 1986.

Since then I have collected all of his music and seen three of his concerts in Toronto. I heard him continue to jump from genre to genre or fuse two or more effortlessly. Aside from the aforementioned rock and rap, he also brought country, blues and jazz into the blend. Basically if it was popular American music, he was playing it! And no matter what he was playing it had soul in spades.

In two weeks I’ll be seeing him for my forth time and I figured it was about time I got around to checking out his new album. It had been released six months ago!

What I found with the album is that rap had left the fold, save for a few measly moments when rapper T.I. injects hip-hop into “Care” which also features country music star, Martina McBride.

Yep, the country is there and the rock can’t leave, it’s in his name! What I heard was all that is American. I thought either this SOB is the most incredibly patriotic son of a gun out there, with his ear on the pulse of exactly what the typical blue-class American family needs to hear, or he’s a marketing genius that’s just ready to tap into the wallets of this culture.

The lyrics touch home for US military families waiting for their loved ones to come back from Afghanistan, and Iraq. Patriotism rages on this album and many songs are anthemic in nature. On “God Bless Saturday”, he sings a hymn for the blue collar worker, but it seems so far removed from his experience as a huge celebrity who was at one time married to Pamela Anderson.

I really enjoyed the first few songs on the album but by the time I got near the end, all the songs had started to sound the same and I kept hoping for some rap to mix things up a bit, but he stayed true to the rock/country fusion throughout the album.

This album is the first that didn’t carry the parental advisory sticker and it’s truly a mature and mainstream outing. I’m surprised that it hasn’t been more successful and better embraced. I did hear it last week in Las Vegas though while waiting in line tickets to a show and again the next night they were playing the album before a show started.

As usual, I am really looking forward to his show. He never disappoints live and I highly recommend it.

This gets a rating of 7/10 for me.