Throwback Thursday #tbt to that time when Ted Nugent and the Midwest Rock and Roll Express Tour came to the Waterfront Pavilion, here in Bangor Maine. Relive the show with the concert review by Ann James Joles originally Published on July 8, 2012
Ted Nugent, with the Midwest Rock’N’Roll Express tour, rolled into Bangor, Maine. For the last show of the tour, they packed in a solid crowd at the Waterfront Pavilion.
Let’s back up a minute and set the stage, so to speak. We all know Ted Nugent says lots of things that cause lots of ruckus, and he just doesn’t care. I want to be Ted Nugent when I grow up, by the way A little remark Ted made at a NRA convention about the upcoming election, later investigated by the Secret Service, started a local social media firestorm pitting city councilors who wanted him ripped from the show line up against defenders of freedom of speech. It wasn’t a very nice series of events. In fact, it got ugly and personal. Defenders of Ted Nugent’s right to speak his mind stood solid, the promoter refused to buckle to silly politicking, and ticket sales soared. Talk about a stranglehold. My perspective? Just shut up, and let the man play guitar.
I kind of like a good brawl, and I appreciate brash resistance of the status quo, so I was excited to see Nugent’s show. By some twist of fate, my seat was front row center. I found myself surrounded by Nugent fans wearing Vietnam veteran hats, executive types in Hawaiian shirts, some plastered flower children, and women wearing pretty much nothing except stupidly high heels. Yeah, that was what I expected.
With little warning the evening went balls-to-the-wall, and Nugent took the stage. Let me just tell you, gentle readers, that it is hard to write about a Ted Nugent performance and stay shy of expletives, F-bombs, and naughty. I will do my best to stay within the confines outlined by the FCC and this website, but it is killing me.
Starting out with “Wango Tango,” the boys in the band shook the stage, and fans went nuts. “Wild” Mick Brown was all smiles as he landed on that drum kit. Greg Smith took his bass and just hummed, knocking out a slight rhythm with his chin, that didn’t stop all night. Derek St. Holmes played guitar as the master he is and did it all while looking so cool. And there was Ted Nugent in the middle of the stage, cowboy hat, attitude, testosterone, and guitar.
Next in the set, “Just What the Doctored Ordered,” followed up by “Free for All.” I hope I wasn’t the only one in the crowd having flashbacks to when FM radio was king, Nugent was in heavy rotation on the locally owned station, and all the muscle cars thumped with his guitar.
“Stormtroopin’,” thundered and stomped, bringing the image of jackboots truly to life. I’ve spent enough time with the mainstream conspiracy story-lines, a strangely accurate description, to seriously wonder if Nugent knows something we all ignore. Dammit. But that is a topic for another day. (Ted, call me.) Luckily, Nugent announced that next up he was “going to play a love song” and “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” took our minds off any imminent doom.
Let me just assure you all that whatever you can imagine for amazing rock’n’roll was ripping in all directions from that stage. Mick Brown hammered the beat, all the while smiling. Greg Smith covered the bass line like he owns it – because he does. Derek St. Holmes’s vocals were even fuller than I remembered, his guitar work, of course, perfect. And Nugent? Well, he was primal, as always. How do you describe what Nugent can make dance out of a guitar? Defiance? Tonal animation? Does he channel all the great guitar gods of the past?
From my seat, I could see everything, and I watched Nugent play. I was mesmerized. Yes, I’m going to state what is obvious to longtime fans – beyond the mechanics and the technical aspects of his ability, there is something spiritual going on. From my seat it looked like brash irreverence mixed with honor and courage and stuffed tight with joy. Yes, I think there is outright joy. Nugent, playing as he moved into the next song, and evidently reading my mind, said “this is the most important night, the most important song, the most important lick of our life. You know that don’t you?” Several times he declared, “I love this shit!” I do believe you do, Ted.
Hearkening back to the blues greats and Motown, the line up turned to “Can’t Quit You, Babe” and “Hey Baby.” REO Speedwagon’s Dave Amato joined in on stage to add even more Motown to the party. These songs were a nice little bluesy break in the happily relentless fire of rock’n’roll.
Rolling to a close, “Cat Scratch Fever” turned the show even more inside out. Proclaimed by Nugent to be the number one guitar lick in the world, Nugent rocked and grinned through the song, and so did everyone else. Finally, “Stranglehold.” I thought to myself, “Now I can die happy.” Here on stage only a few feet away was Ted Nugent and Derek St. Holmes playing one of my all time favorite songs. The song was delivered with rebellion and perfection, Zen while it hit you square in the face. A moment of silence, please, while I remember the experience.
After the band left the stage, the 50 something adorable little blonde sitting next to me looked over, her face broke out into a grin, and she declared, “I didn’t know I was a Ted Nugent fan. I am! That was incredible!”
Yes, the show was that good.
On a final note, and since it made the national news, I’ll share that Nugent’s performance rode into town on a bit of controversy and headed out of town on a bail bond. After the show, “Wild” Mick Brown, reportedly got a little sideways, took off in a venue golf cart, refused to stop when asked, and was later arrested. No one was injured, but yes, in Maine, you can get a summons for driving drunk even on a golf cart. The good news? By the smile in his mugshot, he was having a blast!
Nugent Set List – Wango Tango ~ Just What the Doctor Ordered ~ Free for All ~ Stormtroopin’ ~ Wang Dang Sweet Poon Tang ~ Can’t Quit You Babe ~ Hey Baby ~ Cat Scratch Fever ~ Stranglehold