By Jacob Bennett - Sunday, June 10, 2007
Ted Nugent sees your 12-bar guitar break and raises you 48 bars or so.
The classic rocker's Saturday night show at Mesker Park Amphitheater opened, appropriately, with a guitar solo.
He has been in some good bands, but he's always seemed more comfortable as a solo star. He might take your opinion under advisement but probably not; Ted Nugent is going to do what Ted Nugent's going to do. And what Ted Nugent is going to do is keep that solo going.
Ted's worked with some good lead singers over the years, but he handles the vocals himself. And he does fine with that. The worst you could say about Nugent's singing is, if you closed your eyes, you could pretend you were listening to Motley Crue's Vince Neil.
Anyway, the lyrics and melodies are just there to set up the solos. Jam bands aside, a lot of musicians keep most of their solos at 12 bars or so and save the extra-long ones for special occasions.
Not Ted. Each song is a special occasion, a groove worth getting to know and letting take you on an eight-minute ride.
"Wango Tango," "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang," "Baby, Please Don't Go," all got the marathon treatment (and sometimes he threw in lyrics from his new songs, such as "Geronimo & Me").
Most people can't get away with that many jams-their audiences would lose interest.
Not Ted. He commands your attention. You get the sense that if he caught wind of someone losing interest, he would climb into the audience and club you with his guitar until he had your attention again.
But that's not necessary. Ted Nugent is the undisputed king of the ridiculously long, loud, refuse-to-grow-up rock solo. You don't mind seeing him on an instrumental excursion in the same way you don't mind seeing David Copperfield do magic, or Bill Cosby tell jokes.
Take a song like "Baby, Please Don't Go." Everyone has done that song, and it's a testament to Nugent's talent that his version stands as one of the most remembered.
Saturday he also did a funked-up version of the old song "Soul Man" that did Sam & Dave proud.
Plus "Free For All," "Cat Scratch Fever" and "Stranglehold" are three of the more memorable songs of the 1970s, a decade which certainly had no shortage of brilliant rockers.
It wouldn't be an evening with Ted Nugent if he didn't tell you what he thinks about the state of the world-Hillary Clinton and drugs are bad; America and machine guns are good.
There were no arguments in Evansville, at least not at the amphitheater.
Crooked X, a band from Tulsa, Okla., warmed up the crowd. The teenage members were barely older than WABX -107.5FM, the classic rock radio station that brought Nugent to town for its 10th anniversary bash, but you should be able to hear them for a while on contemporary rock stations.
Each member of the band was strong; it sounds like their parents played Metallica and Pantera while the boys were in the womb.
Officials weren't releasing attendance figures Saturday night.