Toby Keith with Ted Nugent
Country headliner Toby Keith paired with classic rock guitar-maniac Ted Nugent as the warm-up act was an interesting concert offering, to say the least. The one common denominator for “the Nuge” and Keith is their pro-right-wing beliefs and pro-gun advocacy. We felt out of place entering Alltel Arena last Friday night without a straw cowboy hat, as it was immediately obvious most of the 8,986 fans in attendance had come for Toby Keith.
Nugent, the “Motor City Madman,” took the stage wearing a Confederate flag shirt. He proved his reputation as one of the best guitar players in rock music is still deserved, though, as he blasted the arena with several hits during his 45-minute set.
Nugent was able to relate to the crowd with his pro-NRA and hunting views.
The highlight of the show, however, was when Nugent worked the crowd into a raucous frenzy by repeatedly asking if they wanted to hear some country and Western. Once he had the fans on their feet cheering, Ted paused for a few seconds, looked directly into the crowd, and hollered “fat chance!” as he made the guitar scream with “Stranglehold,” followed up by “Cat Scratch Fever.”
It seemed like a quarter of the crowd arrived in the 45 minutes between acts. Keith kicked off his part with a video of him in a Ford truck talking to an old English bulldog. The sound became more intense as the video showed Keith driving up to a bar but unable to enter the front door. Keith’s bulldog walked up with a chain to help Keith pull the door down with his Ford truck. As the building front fell, the curtain drew up and revealed Keith and his band, jumping into the song “Stays in Mexico.”
As the crowd settled into the show, the video screen showed clips from old cowboy movies while Keith bellowed into the microphone one of his classic hits, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy,” followed by “Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action.” Keith then gave the band a mid-set break while he and another musician played some of his favorite “bus” songs, written on long rides between performances and not meant for commercial airplay. Fans, though, have heard the songs and have come to love them, such as “I’ll Never Smoke Weed With Willy Again” and “Taliban.”
Keith’s “Whiskey for My Men, Beer for My Horses” brought the house down. He made three curtain calls and concluded the night talking about his friendship with Nugent, the Iraq war and his pro-American stance.
No wonder Keith and Nugent belonged on the same stage together.