Nugent Rocks The River Roar

Michigan Rock and Roll Legend Ted Nugent made a triumphant return to Bay City last night with a full-blast performance on the Dobson River Roar stage in Veterans Memorial Park. Taking the stage to Keith Richards' immortal opening riffs of "Street Fighting Man", Nugent's power trio kicked the evening off with a blistering rendition of the Amboy Dukes' classic "Journey To The Center Of The Mind". The crowd was on its feet from Uncle Ted's opening chord until the band's encore nearly two hours later.

Ted's set list was a crowd-pleaser from start to finish as he played a steady diet of Nugent favorites including "Wango Tango", "Weekend Warriors", "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang", "Raw Dogs & War Hogs", "Hey Baby", and his biggest solo hit, "Cat Scratch Fever". Uncle Ted had a few surprises up his sleeve as well as he showed off his soul music roots with a fine rendition of Sam & Dave's "Soul Man". The band then played a song from their new CD, a leering version of "Girl Scout Cookies". In a strange moment, Ted was surprised when he was rushed onstage by some goofball guy who seemed intent on humping Nugent's leg during "Love Grenade". The "fan" was wrestled to the ground by security and hopefully arrested.

Ted also played a moving Hendrix-style version of "The Star Spangled Banner" in honor of the American Troops serving at home and abroad. And the man puts his money where his mouth is. On Friday, Nugent played his only other Michigan date on his 2007 tour at DTE Energy Music Theatre and donated "Nuge" show tickets to support service members of the U.S. Army Garrison-Michigan MWR (Morale, Welfare & Recreation Department) at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. In Ted's own words: "We do our best to give back to the hero warriors of the U.S. military for their amazing sacrifices for freedom and liberty around the world". Ted trashed Michael Moore from the stage and hailed Texas as a place where you can own a machine gun. He failed to mention his Crawford neighbor, however, the man most responsible for the 3,600 American dead and nearly 26,000 wounded in Iraq. I guess he didn't want the crowd to start booing.

I was disappointed by the band's current version of "Baby Please Don't Go". It totally lacked the focus and drive of the original. Ted! Go listen again to the Amboy Dukes' recording on Mainstream. I was also surprised to read that Uncle Ted had played in a Battle of the Bands at Roll-Air in 1964. I attended most of those and might have seen Ted play on one of those warm State Park nights. One thing was for sure, however. No band from Detroit with a funny name like the Lourds was going to waltz into town and knock off Bay City's Del Raes in their hometown Battle of the Bands even if they had a 16 year-old guitar punk named Ted Nugent. So Ted, you didn't win anything here despite what you think you remember. That's just the way it was!

Nugent's encore was the song that he feels eclipses all the others in his nearly 50-year career and has become his anthem, "Fred Bear". That left the crowd happy if somewhat woozy from all the beer and sun. But that's Bay City. Give us a warm evening, a $5 beer served in a plastic cup, some ladies wearing skimpy outfits, lot's of shit-hot rock and roll, and all's right in the world.