Call him what you will. Uncle Ted, The Nuge, The Motor-City Madman, or whatever you can come up with. It really all boils down to one thing, a man who has no filters, or any real self restraint.
Ted Nugent, the hunting, fishing, shooting, gun toting, guitar slinging wild man from Detroit brought his amazing live show to Cain’s Ballroom Sunday night to a sold out crowd that looked mostly like they had walked in from a deer stand or a john boat off some farm pond. Ted would have it no other way.
Now about Ted Nugent, when I say there are no filters, I mean that to the fullest extent of the wording. Some artists work in oils, some in clay, some in water colors Ted works in profanity as though he created the craft or were getting royalties from the use of the F bomb. NO SH*T! Funny enough though (and I don’t mean Ha Ha!) it works for him. I was reminded of the scene in Forrest Gump at the Vietnam protest when Forrest tells of the guy in the American flag shirt, "And he liked saying the F word. The more he said it the more people cheered." Same is true for Nugent. It was a little overwhelming at first but soon enough you just tune out on that and tune in on what he is doing with his guitar.
First things first, the night was freaking hot. I mean like jungle hot. When I walked out the door to head to Cain’s I had to cut the air with a buck knife just to get through. It was that hot and muggy. So going to this small enclosed room all I could think was, "I hope they have the air working well." When I pulled up on Main Street I saw it, a huge line waiting to get in that had actually been split in two and lined both the north and south ends of the sidewalk and met in the middle at the Cain’s doorway. My thought quickly changed to, "I am glad that Ted is packing them in like this, to heck with the heat, this is going to be an epic night."
Once inside they have the AC working overtime, Bless you Cain’s Ballroom. It is a wall to wall display of camouflage clothing and hats in multiple colors and textures. (Oh, to have a little money set aside for stock in the pattern.) Nonetheless, I am there in my new Ramones shirt, shorts and Vans. Relaxed and ready for a night with Uncle Ted.
I am quite curious about the opener Val Halla. I have heard nothing of her and did a little youtube investigation work. Seems to be a cross between Christina Aguilera and Bonnie Raitt. Looks of Christina and chops of Raitt. After seeing her, this chick can bring it. She uses her sex appeal to get you in the door and then rips your throat out with her talent. Sadly, her gear had been ripped off so she actually started the show by telling the crowd about it and saying, "if you see anyone with a Mackie amp running around, it is probably mine, kick their butt and get it back for me." Val is a very personable, even commenting on the heat and stating that she was from Canada so she would have to get used to it quick, she is upbeat and lets it all flow when she hits the stage and gets in front of the mic. She is very much at home there and knows how to work the crowd well. With the right marketing and single choices she could be huge.
After her set there is much buzz, much beer and lots of exodus to the smoking area. It will not last long though as the stage is quickly transformed into a shrine to all things testosterone. Machine guns, bows, huge drum kits, and more machine guns. An American flag and an Oklahoma state flag flank the drum kit as a nice touch to honor both the country and the state. With a few kicks of the bass drum and a few hits of the snare to get sound levels the lights fall and we are off and running.
Ted makes his way to the stage with a yell and an immediate "Hello you Mother F’ers!" It’s Ted Nugent what do you really expect. He lights into his version of The Star Spangled Banner, complete with inserts of "NO SH*T!" and doesn’t slow down for the next 2 hours. At one point introducing himself to the younger folks in the crowd and telling of his 62 year old age and his love of the country and all its vices.
The Nuge is one big ball of energy and guitar playing dynamite. Once he gets going on a song he does not like to let up off the gas. The first 3 songs of his set easily lasted 25 minutes. From "Stormtroopin" to "Wango Tango" that had inserts of "Cool Jerk" and "You Really Got Me" laced within he set the tone for the night with some of the most legendary guitar riffs ever recorded. He makes sure to carefully place his expletive laden rants toward the government and those in leadership to rave cheers. I had to laugh because he says what so many of us are thinking and shrugs it off, "Apparently I have a bit of an attitude!" Ah, Ted if only you could get past that confidence problem you have.
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
The rest of the night is filled with amazing fret work and lots of jaw-dropping moments that make us small time musicians go nuts and high five each other and make yocals throw their hands in the air with the Dio devil horn (RIP Ronnie) sign. You don’t want it to end but you want to see what he plays next. By the time he plays as he calls, "The second greatest guitar lick in the history of the world." "Cat Scratch Fever" the audience in on a Ted high that can only be fixed by CSF and his show closer and what he called the "greatest guitar lick" "Stranglehold." His only encore was "Great White Buffalo" in which he appeared with his famed white Gibson Byrdland guitar and full Native American head-dress.
He has earned his "Madman" moniker well and continues to live up to it. In his 62 years of life he has probably forgotten more of what he has done than most of us will ever do. Once again it is one of those shows you need to see at least once before you go from this "sacred Earth" as Ted calls it.
Easily one of the top rock shows I have ever seen. NO SH*T!!