Uniting a city together for any fundraiser is in and of itself a daunting task to say the least. Add to it, a community still shaken from the wrath of a relentless economy, and the outcome could be potentially less than stellar. Yet the City of Detroit, Michigan maintains its strength and commitment toward creating a prosperous future, and rising from its ashes, lies a would-be hometown hero with the talent, star power and passion to aid in the city’s revival and make this charitable vision a reality.
Woodward Avenue, in the core of downtown Detroit and home to the city’s elegant Fox Theatre, dazzled in the site of what would be pegged as the most unlikely meeting of two musical entities the city has ever witnessed. The financially strained Detroit Symphony Orchestra, who faced a looming musicians’ strike one year prior, reached out to one of the very few residents who could possibly elicit the much needed attention and hard-earned dollar drawing power to keep this cherished institution afloat.
American singer/songwriter, Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist and genre crossover artist Kid Rock, seemed the ideal candidate for the task. With such legendary rockers as Mitch Ryder, Ted Nugent and Bob Seger having seemingly handed down the torch to the more current and iconic Kid, his passion for music and commitment to both city and state, has made his name synonymous with that of Motor City legends.
Known for his energetic performances and no holds barred attitude, Kid Rock (a.k.a. Robert Ritchie) turned a top hat and tails evening at the symphony into a t-shirt and jeans rock 'n' rap opera. Opening with the DSO’s rendition of five classical masterpieces including “Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5” and “Finale from Overture to William Tell”, the still inquisitive audience awaited the potential awkwardness of the two acts coming together as one. As Kid’s band Twisted Brown Trucker took to the stage alongside their charismatic front man, the overwhelming applause solidified the true reason why patrons reached deep into their pockets to purchase one of the many expensive tickets in this 5000+ seater venue.
Though unlikely that DSO supporters would become raging Kid Rock followers or vice versa, the true mission of the evening was to raise money for an art form which was not only experiencing financial hardship, but a need to repair their severed relationship with the public after the fiasco of their former potential strike. However, in all, it shined a positive light on Detroit as the sentiment was echoed in Rock’s comment, “Doesn’t our city look beautiful tonight?” upon looking into a spirited crowd.
Sonically, the 70-piece orchestra lead by musical director and conductor Leonard Slatkin, added some extra punch to the already menacing sound of Kid’s 10-piece band. Both played off of one another as all in the orchestra donned themselves in Kid-like fedora hats. Rock in turn supported a spiffy tuxedo which lasted only through opener “Devil Without a Cause”. He then hastily changed into his Kid casuals as he joked, ”You guys didn’t think I was going to wear this tuxedo all night, did you?”
With band and orchestra jelling, hardcore Kid Rock fans were not disappointed as staple hits came one after the other with an impressive set list containing “All Summer Long”, “Cowboy”, “Picture”, “Bawitdaba”, “Born Free”, “Times Like These” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Jesus”. After a 3-song encore including “Son of Detroit”, “Wasting Time” and “God Bless Saturday” sans orchestra, it allowed all to hear a more familiar gritty and unenhanced version of what Kid Rock’s music truly offers.
With the goal of $1 000 000 raised comfortably, an unforgettable night has come and gone and is now permanently etched in the history of Motown. Reminiscent of a very memorable young boy and his brothers who created a new kind of music and introduced it to the world, we may now agree that the City of Detroit has a new ‘Kid’ in town.