Kid Rock had a lot to say on Tuesday night (Sept. 12) while opening the new Little Caesars Arena in his home town of Detroit. But not about running for the U.S. Senate.
Though Rock’s publicist told reporters in the days leading up to the show that after the first song at Tuesday’s show “he will be giving his fans exclusive insight on his political views and aspirations for Michigan while on stage,” and a taped introduction billed him as “the next senator of the great state of Michigan,” Rock gave no indication about whether he planned to actually run for the office or not. Instead, striding on stage to “Hail to the Chief” and flanked by dancers holding American flags, Rock delivered a rhyming, campaign-style speech that echoed one he gave during a concert last week in Grand Rapids, Mich., as well as recent blog postings on his web site.
In an echo of his profane campaign-style speech last week in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Rock addressed a number of issues– including welfare, health insurance, LBGTQ rights, race relations, deadbeat fathers and more — and slammed white supremacist groups as well as those who consider him racist. “I do believe it to be self-evident we are all created equal,” Rock declared. “I said it once, I’ll scream it again. I love black people and I love white people too, but neither as much as I love red, white and blue.”
Rock also teased the idea of running for an even higher office, telling the clearly partisan crowd that, “If Kid Rock For Senator has got some folks in disarray, wait ’til they hear Kid Rock For President of the U.S.A. ‘Cause wouldn’t it be a sight to see, President Kid Rock in Washington, D.C., standing on the desk of the Oval Office like a G, holding my dick ready to address the whole country,” leading into his 2002 song “You Never Met A Motherfucker Quite Like Me.”
Rock began floating a run for Michigan’s Senate seat during July and began selling campaign swag on his web site and at concerts. The bipartisan watchdog group Common Cause filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice claiming Rock has violated campaign rules, while activist groups in Detroit staged a rally outside the arena on Tuesday, protesting his conservative positions and support for President Donald Trump, as well as his former use of a Confederate flag during his shows.
At Tuesday night’s show, Detroit Police and Wayne County Sheriff’s deputies kept the protests, both pro and con, peaceful, mostly by keeping the protestors apart and on different sides of the building. (An anti-abortion protestor outside the arena, meanwhile, carried signs that criticized Rock for being pro-abortion.) Rock addressed the protests during the show, too, rapping during “Cowboy” that, “I like all kinds of people, black, brown, yellow, white. Let there be no doubt about that. If anyone wants to protest tonight, tell ’em they can protest these nuts,” pointing to his genitalia. He then saluted law enforcement offices for keeping the peace.
Most of the night, however, was in Rock words “nothing but a party.” With the 20,000-seat, $863 million arena and its state-of-the-art amenities and features wowing attendees, Rock and his Twisted Brown Trucker band played a characteristically energetic two-hour show mixing favorites with surprises. He opened with the new “Greatest Show On Earth,” accompanied by carnival performers (a juggler, stilt walker, fire-breather and more), pyrotechnics, streamers and lasers in a spectacle fit for a finale rather than the first song.
Eighteen songs later he was still going strong with a second encore romp through Big Joe Turner’s “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” and in between were plenty of other highlights, including a cover of Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May,” a main set-closing triplet of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Jesus,” “Only God Knows Why” and “Born Free,” and a guest appearance by Uncle Kracker for “Drift Away,” cast as a tribute to late musicians of the past couple years — right up to Troy Gentry — whose photos were shown on the video screen.
Rock also paid tribute to Little Caesars and Olympia Entertainment founder Mike Ilitch, who spearheaded the new arena, and to the building crews and staff of the facility. “We as a band are extremely honored and humbled to be the first top play here,” Rock said during the encores. “We hope you saw how hard we worked to put on the greatest show we can for you.”
Rock and company will play five more concerts at Little Caesars, through Sept. 20. He’s also branded a restaurant, Kid Rock’s Made In Detroit, inside the arena, where the Alabama group the Sweet Tea Trio — who joined Rock for “Good Time Waitin'” during his show — performed after Tuesday’s concert.