Kid Rock

Saturday, March 20, at Gund Arena.

The Liars, with the Young People and Roué Beachland Ballroom, 15711 Waterloo Road 9 p.m. Thursday, March 18; $12, 216-383-1124
Kid Rock
Kid Rock
Kid Rock Over the course of the early and mid-'90s, rapper Kid Rock got himself a backup band, and enlisted a midget for good measure. He wowed Detroit audiences with a Fellini-style stage show, complete with explosions, strippers, and ponies. At that time, the new music he'd been fleshing out -- rap metal -- had exploded onto the mainstream. The Kid caught a break.

His 1998 disc Devil Without a Cause was a whopping success. It sold millions of copies and made Kid Rock a bigger success than even he would ever have guessed. The brash, fur-clad Pimp of the Nation was billed as the return of the rock star: a booze-swilling degenerate whose mission was to destroy all sappy, kill-rock-star Cobainists. The self-proclaimed "Bull God" (huh?) raised a leg to tender idealists and a cold Coors Light to excess.

These days, Kid Rock's a lot more Bocephus than Beastie Boy, more Steven Tyler than Reverend Run. His latest, self-titled album is what his label describes as "his most emotionally raw piece of work to date." In it, he pens "tear jerkers" -- his term --about the perils of being a single dad. The cocky Kid seems to have a little sugar in the tank. The new tour is called "The Rock and Roll Pain Train," and it follows on the heels of his new single, "Cold and Empty." This is hardly the rough-around-the-edges American Badass we've come to know and love. Has the Diamond Dave exterior been forever dulled by the beard of Bob Seger? What's happened? Who is the real Kid Rock? You can almost hear all his heroes asking, between doses at the methadone clinic.

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