A pair of home town stadium concerts over the weekend gave Kid Rock and a couple of his support acts an opportunity to showcase new material for the 40,000 fans who attended each show.
In Rock's case it was a reflective song called "In Times Like These" that he performed as the first encore on Saturday and Sunday at Comerica Park, the usual home of the Detroit Tigers. Explaining that he usually doesn't play new work until it's been released, Rock told the crowd he felt this was "an important song" inspired by the tough economic times the country, and especially his home state of Michigan, were experiencing. "It's the truth, and we hope it's more inspirational than anything," Rock said before performing an acoustic version of the song, whose lyrics contain sentiments such as "I heard them say they're shutting Detroit down/But I won't leave 'cause this is my home town" and "Even though it's bittersweet and brings us to our knees/It makes us who were are in times like these."
Rock was planning to follow-up 2007's triple-platinum "Rock N Roll Jesus" this fall but, as previously reported, has decided to take the project to producer Rick Rubin, which will likely mean a 2010 release. The two are currently reviewing what Rock has in hand, including collaborations with rapper Lil Wayne and T.I., and plan to start recording after Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker band wrap up their summer tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Rock also rolled out a variety of covers during the homestand, including the Rolling Stones' "Tumbling Dice," Dobie Gray's "Drift Away" (accompanied by video screen images of a selection of deceased music heroes), the Jackson 5's "ABC" in tribute to Michael Jackson, snippets of the Georgia Satellites' "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" and Sly & the Family Stone's "Everyday People" incorporated into other songs, and Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," which closed each night's show. The concerts were filmed and recorded, but Rock told Billboard.com that he has not made any definite plans for any sort of official release.
Alice in Chains, which played on Saturday's bill in its first U.S. show of the summer, debuted "A Looking in View" from "Black Gives Way to Blue," the group's first album of new material in 14 years -- and first with new singer William DuVall -- as part of a 50-minute set dominated by favorites such as "Man in the Box," "Them Bones," Down in a Hole," "No Excuses," "Would" and "Rooster." Prior to the show all four band members joined Virgin/EMI executives at Detroit's Fox Theatre to preview the entire album for a gathering of music industry professionals. The quartet plays in Europe during August, then returns stateside for a short run that begins Aug. 22 in Pomono, Calif.
On Friday night, meanwhile, Lynyrd Skynyrd offered a pair of songs from its upcoming "God & Guns," which, as previously reported, is also coming out Sept. 29. The group opened its set with "Skynyrd Nation," an uptempo ode to its fans, and also performed the album's first single, "Still Unbroken," a heavy rocker that singer Johnny Van Zant dedicated to deceased Skynyrd members Leon Wilkeson, Hughie Thomasson, Billy Powell and Ean Evans and accompanied with historical photos of the group and its album covers on the video screen.