(Live Review) TED NUGENT - Riviera Theatre, North Tonawanda (August 14/22)
Written by Jeff Tighe
More than 40 years after this reviewer's first live encounter with Ted Nugent, it was time to take in the Motorcity Madman one more time in the good ole' U.S. of A. And a star spangled evening it was, with Uncle Ted opening with his Hendrix-inspired guitar version of the U.S. national anthem. The tempo of the evening was then further set with the band launching into the classic "Gonzo" from his double live album of the same name.
Ted shared lead vocal duties with bassist Greg Smith while drummer Jason Heartless filled out the band. Both Nugent and Smith's vocals were strong, with Smith taking on classics like "Stormtroopin", "Stranglehold" and "Hey Baby". Nugent isn't jumping off speakers anymore at 74 years young, but he is in great shape physically and mentally as he will let you know repeatedly every show.
The band's sound can be a bit thin in places (despite the very high volume) since there is no rhythm guitarist anymore and Ted's lead breaks are always extended. But when the Man is playing leads you are pretty much focused on him anyway, so it isn't a big deal. Nugent's guitar work remains at an elite level to this day, as it always has.
The songs themselves are not always carbon copies of the old days, with Ted taking liberties with lyrics (often to chastise Democrats), or just because he feels like jamming, but that is the nature of live music with a man who has given thousands of concerts in seven different decades.
Part of the Ted experience is listening to his between-songs ego-driven rants and his endless digs at Liberals (he truly is hilarious), but brevity is the soul of wit, and Ted isn't brief. Shorter stories and a couple more songs would make the set stronger.
The band did a couple of songs from the new Detroit Muscle album ("Come and Take It" and "American Campfire"), but frankly there are better songs off that album that should have been selected. As always, the set list relies too heavily on the first three "classic" albums, but that is the nature of older artists touring, in that the average fans want the familiar and never seem to get bored of it.
The Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda, New York is an older venue, but it is a fine place to see a show as the 1,500 or so fans who filled it for the first of Ted's two nights there will attest. North Tonawanda seems to be a regular stopping point for Ted's tours, and he will likely be back there in 2023. It is an easy trip there from southern Ontario or anywhere in upstate NY, and fans will do well to catch the man while you can....or will Ted live forever as he seems to believe?
Star Spangled Banner
Wang Dang Sweet Poontang
Free For All
Come and Take It
Cat Scratch Fever
Great White Buffalo