The NFL Pepsi Fan Jam with Kid Rock, Duran Duran and Jason Derulo
Verizon Theatre, Grand Prairie
February 3, 2011
Better than: Finding out your girlfriend has Hepatitis C
On a night where camera crews were absolutely everywhere (including two large camera cranes) and where directors kept giving instructions over the PA as to when commercial breaks were happening (or cueing fans to raise their hands at just the right times), it took a pretty stellar, if not somewhat heroic, performance from Kid Rock to finally get people to forget the whole affair was being filmed.
Unfortunately for the folks at VH1, who were airing this so-called Super Bowl Fan Jam semi-live, this moment didn't come until the 45-minute portion of the show that took place after the cameras stopped rolling.
No matter how well anything else went last night, no matter how pleasantly surprising Duran Duran frontman Simon LeBon's vocals were and no matter how spot-on any of the performers on the bill were, the night never fully gained momentum -- or even anything that would have otherwise made the evening feel less staged.
Despite the way it appeared on television, Duran Duran were the first performers the audience saw, and despite some preshow doubts, the '80s megastars seem to still have "it." It was a little unexpected how many of their songs this professed non-fan knew -- and knew quite well. Even more remarkable was how seamlessly the three songs from their upcoming Mark Ronson-produced LP fit into with the rest of their setlist. What you didn't see on TV:
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- The band warming up the crowd prior to the taping with "View to a Kill," "Hungry Like the Wolf" and, the best of their new tracks, "Being Followed."
- They had a female vocalist standing in the shadows (strategically away from possible camera shots) who sang a lot of the famous harmonies and really filled out the live sound.
- During the commercial break in their set, a producer came on the PA to tell certain fans to sit down for a while so that the host, supermodel Marissa Miller could read a teleprompter -- but reminded other fans to be more excited during the next shots.
Next up for us (but first for television viewers) was Jason Derulo, who, from the looks of it, is some sort of break dancer who sometimes sings and apparently got famous just singing over an old Imogen Heap song.
What you didn't see on TV:
- Derulo also did a couple of numbers that weren't for broadcast. During the second one, he ripped his shirt in near Hulk Hogan-style and gave the pieces to a female audience member before retreating backstage for a wardrobe change.
Then, while the folks at home were watching the pre-taped Duran Duran portion, we at Verizon were watching stage crews assemble Kid Rock's absolutely massive stage setup, which quite frankly was one of the largest I'd ever seen.
But it wasn't until the cameras stopped rolling that Kid Rock finally let loose and began to let his real self shine through. At nine o'clock sharp, he looked to someone offstage asking, "No more TV, right?" Promptly, upon receiving the affirmative nod, he screamed "You Never Met a Motherfucker Quite Like Me" as the band joined him in the song of the same name.
Finally, here was the so-called American Badass I had heard so much about, springing to life before me.
As Rock finally started loosening up, it was easier and easier to see how he's remained relevant for 14-plus years; the man possesses an oddly cute charisma that allows him to defiantly grab his crotch, tell people to suck his dick, or perform songs with a couple dozen f-bombs thrown in -- and yet somehow come off as playfully impish, harmlessly malcontented, and through it all oddly charismatic.
As it turns out, these are traits necessary to allow Rock to flawlessly bounce from rap-metal to bona fide country and Southern rock without ever causing any head-scratching or coming across as being contrived. Huge pyrotechnics, lighted stage displays and strategic camera angles made the show feel much more like it was happening in a big arena rather than in the mid-size (and, at times, half-empty) Verizon Theatre.
Both Rock and Duran Duran promised to come back to DFW soon for a more conventional performance, and though I went into this thing a firm non-believer on both fronts, I'd see both again in a heartbeat.
What you didn't see on TV:
- Kid Rock scratching on a set of turn-tables -- and doing so quite well, I might add. Then came the tricks: He poured and drank a shot; he lit and smoked a cigar while scratching; he scratched behind his back; he jumped on the turntables and scratched between his legs. Yes, I know how that last part sounded.
- Kid Rock playing drums and singing at the same time during a portion of "Cat Scratch Fever."
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Personal Bias: Not sure if this counts, but I was taken to a Duran Duran concert once when I was 10 and all I remember was leaving by the second song. To be fair, though, it probably was just because it was past our bedtimes.
Random Note: LeBon might have packed on a few extra pounds after he stopped doing coke, but after last night I could still totally see why people my mom's age totally used to French his posters while growing up.
View to a Kill
Hungry Like the Wolf
All You Need is Now
(Reach Up For The) Sunrise
Girls on Film
God Bless Saturday
God Only Knows (w/ Jamey Johnson)
All Summer Long
You Never Met a Motherfucker Quite Like Me
Slow My Roll
Midnight Rider/Cowboy/Dukes of Hazzard Theme/Cowboy (medley)
Vamp that included bits of Cat Scratch Fever and LaGrange while Rock bounced from turntables to guitars to drums