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Kid Rock invades DTE for record-setting run of shows

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Get ready for Kid Rock times 10.

Kid Rock gets ready to hit the stage at his "First Kiss: Cheap Date" tour.

Beginning Friday, the Michigan rock and roller, proud “Son of Detroit” and platinum-certified Devil Without a Cause will perform a record-breaking 10 concerts at Clarkston’s DTE Energy Music Theatre. All 10 shows sold out immediately when they went on sale, and he probably could have sold out another few, but hey, not all the concerts can be Kid Rock concerts. (Aside from Chris Brown on Aug. 16, DTE is all Kid Rock for the next two weeks.)

The 10-show run is another feather in the cap for Rock, who enjoys mythic status in his hometown. It tops his own eight-concert stretch at the venue in 2013, which tied the venue’s record for most shows in a single season, set in 1978 by Rock’s hero Bob Seger.

Over the course of the shows, Rock will play to around 150,000 fans, further padding his own state record for most tickets sold by an artist during a single string of concerts. Like his 2013 tour, the tickets cost $20, part of a dynamic pricing plan hammered out with promoter Live Nation.

“We learned so much from doing it the first time, and it worked out to be great,” Rock told the News in February. “I believe this is going to be something that I ride out into the sunset, knock on wood.”

Rock’s current “First Kiss: Cheap Date” tour is in support of February’s “First Kiss” album, which debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart. We dipped down to Cleveland last week to get an early look at the tour, and here are 10 things to expect over the course of the record-breaking run at the former Pine Knob.

Hits: Kid Rock isn’t the type of guy to troll fans with deep cuts. He knows the songs you came out to hear, and those are the ones you’ll get: “Cowboy,” “Picture,” “Devil Without a Cause,” “Born Free,” “All Summer Long,” etc. His set list is designed to please and keep things moving, and it delivers. If you want to hear “Shotgun Blast” or “Pancake Breakfast,” listen to them in the car before the show.

The “Bi-Polar Rock n’ Roller”: A 12-minute mid-show suite of songs showcases Rock’s various styles, from country crooner (“Care”) to sensitive balladeer (“Blue Jeans and a Rosary”) to strip-club rocker (“So Hott”), all woven together by the tales of what was going on in Rock’s “(messed) up little think tank” when he wrote them. It’s a fun way to break up the set list and open it up for a few unexpected offerings (“Midnight Train to Memphis” was a surprise), all while letting Rock tell the story of his wild career.

Flash and flare: Sometimes all you need is an acoustic guitar and a black backdrop, but a Kid Rock amphitheater show is not one of those times. Just because Rock’s tickets only cost $20 doesn’t mean he had to skimp on the production. Pyro, fireballs, lasers: They’re all here. The only thing left behind from Rock’s days of yore are the gyrating dancers — the guy is a grandfather now, so maybe he thought that would be a little gratuitous.

American pride: Rock has always been a proud supporter of America, its flag and our troops, and he puts his pride on display during “Born Free,” which is accompanied by red, white and blue lasers and a giant American flag backdrop. Meanwhile, a video intro for the song showcases scenes of auto workers and everyday Americans while in voiceover Rock calls the USA “the greatest mother-(expletive) country on Earth.” As for the recent controversy over Rock’s former use of the Confederate flag, the only Dixie flags on display at the Cleveland show were on the T-shirts of several fans, accompanied by the message “keep it flying.”

Cheap beers: Amid the usual array of tallboys and craft beers, keep an eye out for $4 “Old-Timers” beers — 12 oz. cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Profane merchandise: Kid Rock’s show is your one stop shop for all your back-to-school needs, if your school is extremely liberal when it comes to printed swear words. For sale at the shows are a T-shirt with a raised middle finger on the front and the words “(expletive) off and die” on the back (it’s the name of one of the songs on Rock’s “First Kiss” album); a tank top that reads “American (bleepin’) bad (bleep)”; a jersey with “Kid Rock 1” on the front and “(bleeps) given 00” on the back; and a few shirts without profanity as well. There are also Kid Rock koozies, satin tour jackets, foam middle fingers, hoodies, flags, trucker hats, blankets and sweatbands, all emblazoned with Kid Rock-ese. As a bonus, a $50 merchandise purchase nets you a free poster, and $100 gets you a poster and a T-shirt (which has swearing on it, natch).

An insane Foreigner set: When is a band no longer that band, and does it even matter? Classic rock outfit Foreigner is down to one original member these days, Mick Jones, and at the show in Cleveland, Jones wasn’t there. (The 70-year-old has several days off built into the schedule.) That left what was basically a Foreigner tribute band who, due to some crazy error in accounting, was being billed as Foreigner for the evening. But it hardly mattered: The band played hard and mugged like crazy, with frontman Kelly Hansen (he’s been with the band for a decade) playing like his rent check depended on the gig. Three songs into the set, he ran off stage, jumped over the barricade, dashed all the way to the lawn and back, high-fiving hundreds of fans along the way. The energy was maddening, and it played directly to Rock’s fanbase of good old fashioned rock and rollers.

A bluegrass warmup: Prior to Foreigner’s set, Athens, Georgia quintet Packway Handle Band plays a short set of beer-drinking bluegrass tunes. Come early for their version of Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls.”

Shriners: Don’t have a copy of Rock’s “First Kiss?” Fez hat-wearing Shriners dot the grounds of the venue selling copies for $10, with 100 percent of the profits benefiting Shriners Hospitals for Children. Rock also employed the use of CD-selling Shriners on his last tour, and told Howard Stern in an interview this year the experiment was a huge success, so they’re back.

A pre-show party: Kid Rock doesn’t play Detroit every summer, but he’s enough of a fixture on the summertime schedule that going to see him certainly feels like a seasonal tradition. Since his 1999 breakthrough he has played DTE/ Pine Knob 22 times, making up roughly half of the local concerts he has staged during that time. And with every concert comes a massive party, with fans lining up in the parking lot to tailgate, barbecue and raise a toast to the Romeo boy made good. “Welcome to the party,” Rock sang on his album “Devil Without a Cause,” and the party is still going strong.

Kid Rock

6:45 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Aug. 14, Aug. 15, Aug. 18, Aug. 19, Aug. 21, Aug. 22

DTE Energy Music Theatre, 7774 Sashabaw, Clarkston

Tickets sold out or

(248) 377-0100