(Live Review) TED NUGENT - St. Charles, Illinois (8/13/23)
By The Beard & Little Johnny
Tonight, good readers, followers, fans, and insomniacs everywhere, the dynamic duo of reviewing revelry, (The Beard and Little Johnny), will be separated as only the Beard attends stop #47 and bands #220-221 on our The Reviews Never Stop Tour 2023.
This evening The Beard will be sitting third row at the iconic Arcada theater in downtown Saint Charles for the Motor City Madman himself Mr. Ted Nugent as he rolls through his farewell tour, appropriately titled Adios MoFo’s.
Ironically, The Beard has never actually seen Nugent live, not in The Amboy Dukes (his original band between 1967 & 1974), not solo (1975-1989), not with Damn Yankees (1990-1994), and not in the thirty years since. Like The Moody Blues, whom the Beard just saw last month, Ted Nugent has been performing for a half century plus. Seeing someone for the first time at 75 years old is certainly not like seeing them in their glory days, but The Beard is looking to hear some classic numbers and cross another one off his seemingly endless bucket list.
I won’t bore you readers with more extemporaneous detail on the career of Ted Nugent. Just check right here, at The Mighty Decibel site, as editor and chief Chris Tighe has produced numerous articles and podcasts on the career of Terrible Ted in all his roller coaster glory. Truly Chris has already forgotten more about Ted Nugent than The Beard shall ever hope to learn, so I leave additional details to those Chris has already published. (Ed: And will continue to publish. A review of Uncle Ted's discography is scheduled next month!)
The Beard will simply report on the show as it unfolds this evening. My usual sidekick Little Johnny had other plans this evening and made a reference about already seeing a bunch of over the hill, once-was performers this past week. Your loss little dude, this chance won’t come again.
Upon arrival to this three-night sold out run, The Beard was greeted with a free beer from sponsor Samual Adams, and some free meatballs from Arcada chief and promoter Ron Onesti’s Italian restaurant . They are going all out for Terrible Ted. Pretty nice setup.
The opening act Hillbilly Vegas was exactly that. They hit the stage at 7:00, played a crisp hillbilly mountain music set and finished at 7:30 on the dot. I will say they were efficient, but, other than their last song, ultimately forgettable.
At 8:01, the house lights went out and the main man entered stage right (with Ron Onesti carrying the American Flag on a pole right behind him). After a greeting, Ted wasted no time going into a guitar rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. It may not have been Hendrix at Woodstock, but it WAS exactly what the crowd wanted to pop big for (and they did).
Opening the set with “Gonzo” may have been a “warm-up” number for the 75-year-old, but If the Beard expected an “old man” playing guitar tonight, he was certainly slapped back to reality quickly. “Motor City Madhouse” was played at a clip even faster than the live tracks I was already familiar with. Ted certainly hasn’t lost a step on that guitar. “Stormtroopin'” was also excellent guitar work, and I am impressed with just how spry and dexterous his hands still are.
When he changed guitars, for “Paralyzed” his rap was funny.
“My guitars breed between songs. I used to do that too, but Mrs. Nugent is here tonight, and she put a shock collar around my balls.” Ted also reminded us that despite his “shitkicker and hellraiser” attitude, he was and is proud of being straight edge, (no drinking no drugs) even after over a half century in rock and roll. That IS impressive.
Next up was the classic hit “Free for All”. Honestly, I felt that was pretty sloppy vocally. Nugent isn’t the easiest guy to understand when he speaks anyway, and this seemed vocally rushed. Bassist Johnny Schoen, who recently replaced long time bassist Greg Smith is the cleaner and better vocalist even though it’s clearly and unabashedly still the Ted Nugent show. Schoen handled the vocal duties on a handful of tracks, and the combination was very good. “Snakeskin Cowboys” was one the Beard was simply not familiar with, but follow up “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” was certainly one an adolescent Beard remembered well as it blared from the junior high school lunchroom jukebox. (Amazing, back in those days they allowed us a lunchroom jukebox).
Likewise, “Hey Baby" and "Just What the Doctor Ordered” were known and thoroughly enjoyed. On “Good Friends & a Bottle of Wine”, Ted took us on a guitar musical trip through his history with some Amboy Dukes, riffs from “Journey to the Center of Your Mind.” Nice retrospective.
The “Come & Take It” with the #$*@ Joe Biden lyrical change, was in one sense Ted Nugent pandering to “his” audience. I know that’s a legitimate stance for many, (and frankly, based on reactions, most of Ted’s audience), but the Beard is not going to put politics in his review. Stand your own ground. Do your own research. Make your own decisions. The Beard ain’t God, just an observer, writer, and all-around sexy son of a bitch. (Ed: Where's Johnny when you need him?!)
While, once again, The Beard was not really familiar with crowd favorite “Fred Bear”, “Cat Scratch Fever" … now that's the Nuge the Beard learned about in junior high.
Finally, getting to hear “Stranglehold” (which I’ve probably heard “covered” over 100 times), played by the man who actually wrote it was worth five points on the grade right there. Plus, the encore was one of my other favorites “Great White Buffalo”. I could not have picked two better from the catalog to finish with. (Ed: Erm - I could have picked dozens. Heh, heh!)
Once more, Ted's voice itself is hit and miss, but his guitar (on the other hand) is hit and hit again. Outstanding guitar work.
The Beard can only hope he is as spry in 18 years when I’m the age Ted was tonight. So, check another item off the bucket list and crack a cold one for the eternally defiant and unrepentant madman Theodore Anthony Nugent.
The Beard says 93/100.
So, this wraps up show #47 and bands #220-221 on The Reviews Never Stop Tour 2023. In just a couple days, the Beard & Little Johnny will be rolling once again. We don’t rest, so you can’t stop reading, liking, and sharing. Remember to check us out every Wednesday & Thursday at your home for Metal music, podcasts, interviews, and show reviews.
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Thebeard0728 or #thebeardandlittlejohnny
Until next time ...