Wednesday, June 20, 2018
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Incendiary rocker Ted Nugent stirs up Ruth Eckerd Hall crowd

CLEARWATER

When Ted Nugent endorsed Mitt Romney for the presidency a few months ago, it was not unlike, say, Godzilla endorsing the mayor of Tokyo. Yes, there's a twisted loyalty there, but, man, something's definitely going to get broken.

The one and only Nuge, 63 and still grinning like a Motor City Madman, has only become more vociferous (read: rippin' bonkers) as he's aged. There isn't a liberal politico the guitar shredder hasn't berated; there isn't a conservative cause he hasn't taken up with yeehaw gusto.

So it was altogether appropriate, and potentially incendiary, when the Detroit huntsman arrived at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Monday just a few weeks before the Republican National Convention comes to town.

Fresh off a "meeting" with the Secret Service after he made outlandish remarks about President Obama — which, as you're about to read, sedated him not at all — Nugent let 'er rip in front 1,515 fans. Almost all of his loyalists here were dudes. At least I think they were. Who could see them with all that fashionable camouflage?!

As a firm believer in the rock 'n' roll chaos theory, I must confess that it's an absolute joy writing about Uncle Ted, whose backdrop was a tattered American flag hanging above a dozen-plus Gibson guitars. The man is NEVER boring, as his following choice quotations during the 90-minute show will profanely attest:

• "It's 2012. What are you going to do? They're coming up your streets, jackboots stepping high, looking in your windows. What are you going to do? Put a (bleepin') gun in your hands!"

• "I killed enough deer last year to send venison to the American military. So, thank you, Uncle Ted. When they eat Ted Nugent meat, they kill more (bleeps)."

• "The whole world (bleeps) — but America still (bleeps) less."

And finally: "I promise I will use that freedom to do everything in my power to clean the criminal (bleeps) out of the government. Barack Obama will be a community organizer again. Let's vote the (bleeps) out of here!"

It should be noted that Nugent spent most of the time leading — with a red-white-and-blue Gibson, no less — his tight, raucous three-piece band on a head-splitting tour through Detroit garage-rock boogie. Opening with the raw assault of live specialty Gonzo, the songs screamed into each other, an endless dumb-fun assault.

Nugent flirted and boasted with all the intensity of a caveman bonking heads with a club. He smirked at a woman in the front row who dared frown at his hunting stories — "You voted for Obama, didn't you?" "More (bleep) needs to die" — then dedicated a song about, ahem, the female anatomy to her. To this brave, outnumbered lady's credit, she smiled and danced along, and don't you know randy Ted liked that even more.

The show ended with a one-two haymaker of Cat Scratch Fever and, in its epic 10-minute-plus version, Stranglehold. Just in case anyone questioned the Nuge's patriotism, his last act was planting a flag onstage, grabbing a soldier's helmet and a gun and hollering, "Freedom ain't free! Freedom ain't free!" The camouflaged throngs surged in salute.

And with a grin, Godzilla left the stage.

Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] Follow @seandalypoplife.

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