On the same night his archest of enemies was in town, Ted Nugent was loaded for bear. Or buffalo.
Tuesday night, Nugent headlined a show at the Midland theater, just blocks from where President Barack Obama was staying before his Wednesday-morning speech.
Known for his provocative diatribes onstage and off, Nugent had some inflammatory things to say about the president (he referred to him as an “evil person”), the Secret Service and America and its European allies.
But by Nugent standards, his soliloquies were relatively few and brief. For most of his nearly 90-minute set, he and his band focused on the task at hand: issuing hard rock at a high volume.
Backed by a three-piece band that included guitar wiz Derek St. Holmes, Nugent gave a crowd of about 900 a tour of his solo catalog. His set list included songs from his debut album, “Ted Nugent,” released in 1975, and from “Shutup & Jam,” released in July.
Throughout the set, he shared vocal and lead guitar duties with St. Holmes. The sound could have been better. Volume was exorbitant all night, which turned several songs into a crashing barrage of percussion and guitars and rendered vocals indiscernible. Even some of Nugent’s banter between songs was hard to understand.
Highlights included standards like “Wang Dang …” “Stranglehold,” “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Hey Baby” and the cover of “I Can’t Quit You Baby.” Also on the set list: “Just What the Doctor Ordered,” “Free for All,” “Queen of the Forest” and “Fred Bear.”
Nugent has been in the news lately regarding his tour and his no-holds-barred opinions. American Indian tribes in Idaho and Washington state canceled three of his casino shows after getting pressure from critics for comments Nugent made about Obama .
Tuesday night, in a room that was about one-third full, he showed both sides of his coin, apologizing to the military for the “stupidity” of the American people who elected Obama twice.
But he also plugged a food program through which hunters donate millions of meals to food kitchens, and he brought a veteran onstage to give him keys to an automobile donated through Cars 4 Heroes.
He ended the show wearing an American Indian headdress, leading his band through “Great White Buffalo.” He urged the crowd to “take back America” and “never forget where you come from.”
But on this night, the guy who called his new album “Shutup & Jam” seemed to be taking his own advice, letting his music do most of the talking.