With a bandanna on his bald dome, hoops and skulls dangling from his ears and a fringed leather jacket worn over a Jimi Hendrix shirt, Gov. Jesse Ventura revived his stage persona Saturday night in front of 14,000 cheering spectators.
“The Body’s back for tonight,” he yelled from the Target Center stage. “Let’s party, Minnesota!”
The event, dubbed “The People’s Celebration,” was the climax of two solid weeks of inaugural events. Ventura and his wife, Terry, planned the party in place of a more formal inaugural ball.
Tickets for the event, ranging from $10 to $20, sold out after several days in December.
Wave upon wave of colored, foil confetti fell upon the crowd, punctuated with a series of indoor fireworks as Ventura took the stage. A shower of sparks rained down behind him as he stood cheering along with the crowd and pumping his fist.
The University’s marching band performed the University rouser in a surprise appearance before the stage show, following several hours of food and music in the concourse hallways.
Andy Richter, the drum major and a junior in the College of Liberal Arts, said the band was much more energetic in the show than in a practice session early Saturday morning.
“Once the Target Center was filled, we had a completely different energy,” he said. The 200 band members participated voluntarily, as their regular season is over.
The band played two numbers, including “The Minnesota Rouser,” which brought the crowd to their feet.
Main stage musical guests included Delbert McClinton, Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum, Tina and the B-Side Movement and America, who sang “Ventura Highway.” Ventura donned a gold and purple feather boa and joined Warren Zevon in a rendition of “Werewolves of London.”
When Zevon added the lyrics, “Who put a flying headscissors on Skip Humphrey,” Ventura answered, “Jesse ‘The Body,’ werewolf of Minnesota.”
“He was a little off-key, but it was entertaining,” said University senior Cindy Ten Pas, whose face appeared on the televised screens hanging at the sides of the stage.
After the opening acts, local blues rocker Jonny Lang performed for more than an hour, at one point joking with Ventura to “pull some strings” so the young blues man could get his driver’s license.
Ventura called the event “the most unique inaugural ball in history.
“If this is any indication of what the next four years is going to be like, we’re going to have a helluva good time. Rock on!”