Giving crowd some `Cat Scratch Fever'

Rockin' and rantin', a wild Ted Nugent takes no prisoners

Postcard: State Fair

September 04, 2005|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,SUN COLUMNIST

It's hard to know for sure if legendary wild-man rocker Ted Nugent set a new world's record for offending the widest array of people at the Maryland State Fair in Timonium the other night.

But if he didn't, it sure wasn't from a lack of effort.

Let's see, during the course of a nearly two-hour concert under threatening skies, the famously right-wing, pro-hunting, heavy-metal guitar wizard managed to take shots at, among others: PETA, vegetarians, hippies, smokers, tobacco-chewers, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Jesse Jackson, gun-control advocates and country music fans.

Did we mention liberals and the U.N.?

Apparently, the Nuge isn't crazy about them, either.

Oh, and hip-hop artists, too. He's really down on them.

"At the MTV [Video] Music Awards, some guys shot each other," he yelled at one point. "I'm shocked! Are you shocked?"

In fact, not many in the estimated crowd of 5,000, which skewed heavily to the 40-and-older set, seemed shocked by anything Nugent had to say.

Let's face it, when the stage is decorated with animal furs, machine guns, assault rifles, sandbags and what appears to be the bleached skull of a steer as a centerpiece, it's pretty obvious this isn't your garden-variety rock concert - or your garden-variety rock crowd.

And when the 57-year-old Nugent first bounded onto the stage wearing a camouflage bush hat, sleeveless camo shirt and jeans, waving Old Glory and playing an electrified version of "The Star-Spangled Banner," you knew it was going to be a long night for any Birkenstock-wearing, anti-war, left-wing weenies in the crowd.

Even the security staff seemed enthusiastically pro-Nuge.

"I appreciate his efforts and what he does for the NRA," said J.R. Abel of Jarrettsville, working the entrance near the stage. "Hunting is a freedom we should all enjoy, as long as you're responsible about it. It's our Second Amendment right."

Just `shoot 'em'

Speaking of the NRA, Nugent spoke at the gun-group's national convention this past April, where he got a huge ovation from the delegates after thundering: "Remember the Alamo! Shoot 'em! To show you how radical I am, I want car-jackers dead. I want rapists dead. I want burglars dead. I want child-molesters dead. I want the bad guys dead.

"No court case. No parole. No early release. I want 'em dead. Get a gun and when they attack you, shoot 'em."

Earlier in the day at the fair, the Nuge had gotten into the swing of things with a three-hour book signing, chatting with fans and autographing his autobiography God, Guns & Rock n' Roll, as well as his Kill It and Grill It Cookbook and Bloodtrails II, a guide for deer-hunting with a bow and arrows.

By the time he and his band - Barry Sparks on bass guitar and "Wild" Mick Brown on drums - hit the stage and launched into such ear-shattering Nuge staples as "Weekend Warriors" and "Dog Eat Dog," Nugent was ready to throw some red meat to the crowd.

"Today I had some lamb," he announced during a break in songs. "I need to pass on a truism. The cuter the critter, the sweeter the meat."

Later, during another break, he launched into an irreverent, profane tirade about the cowboys at the fair who had taken part in a bull-riding contest the night before.

"You're not supposed to ride a bull!" he hissed. "You're supposed to shoot it!"

Earlier in the evening, Bob Brickley, vice-president of Triangle Talent Inc., the entertainment agency that had booked Nugent at the fair, had said of the audience, half-jokingly: "You never know, there could be PETA people out there."

But if there were, they weren't making themselves known as Nugent's comments elicited mainly laughter and loud cheers from the crowd.

After a frenzied version of the Nuge classic "Kiss My [Expletive]" - the lyrics of which read like a Who's Who of the gonzo rocker's lib hit list - he brought down the house by picking up a red, white and blue bow and launching an arrow into a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Saddam Hussein off to one side of the stage.

Naturally, his aim was dead-on, the arrow piercing the target's chest right at the heart.

The band then launched into the rollicking Nugent anthem "Cat Scratch Fever" from his breakout 1977 album of the same name. After a spirited encore, Nugent and his band waved to the crowd, the lights came up and the concert was over.

"Have the greatest hunting season of your life!" the Nuge screamed before leaving the stage.

`All-American hero `

In the darkness that suddenly enveloped them, the crowd seemed stunned for several seconds, as if still reeling from the nonstop fury of Nugent's screeching guitar and the relentlessness theatricality of his in-your-face pronouncements.

Then people slowly began heading for the exits, many buzzing happily - and in awe - over what they had just witnessed.

"He's definitely an All-American rock 'n' roll hero," said Gabriel Kelley of Elkridge, who said he had seen the Nuge in concert a bunch of times and who, with his 11-year-old son Elijah, was now sporting a new Ted Nugent 2005 tour T-shirt.

"I take his politics with a grain of salt, but I love his music," said John Nagle, 20, a college student from Timonium. "And I'm a Republican."

The Maryland State Fair concludes tomorrow at the state fairgrounds, Timonium and York roads in Timonium. For hours and other information, call 410-252-0200, ext. 227, or online at www.baltimore

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