Ted Nugent is about as polarizing a figure as they come. Crazy/genius…those are the words often used to describe him. Both sides were felt as we walked into The Fillmore- the venue alone signals you’re going to see someone great, and then a glance at the stage, with it’s Uncle Sam caricature of Uncle Ted, 50 calibur machine gun, animal pelts, skulls, bow, and flags, reminds you that he is at the extreme end of the conservative spectrum that you hate.
Another glance around the room makes me wonder where all these people came from. Bubba from Concord, Jimmy from Vallejo…camo and caps are the uniform of choice here. Not a hipster in sight. I giggle thinking about how different the crowd is just a few miles away at the George Michael concert.
Wild guitar playing, screams and kicks start the set. The energy is high and never lulls for nearly 2 hours- an impressive feat for a 60 year old man. The first song he launches into is the Star Spangled Banner. Duh.
Nugent performs many of his songs live by stretching out guitar solos, then tying it up neatly at the end just when you were about to forget what song he was playing. His voice doesn’t show any age- the scream is still the scream he made in the ’70’s.
I can sum his patriotic, stereotyping, ranting speeches up in a few bullet points, including some key quotes:
– His special guests- the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, etc.
– He refers to the town as “San Francisky”…I think there might have been some San Fransissies in there, too.
– Looking into the crowd: “The skinny girls get machine guns and the fat girls have to load them.”
– “Can you feel Bo Diddley’s spirit?”
– “I once was a little black boy.”
– “You like that funky stuff” Name drop James Brown, Bo Diddley…
– Un-PC comments that the crowd doesn’t laugh at get “you guys are too scared to laugh at that”.
‘Wango Tango’ is the first classic that he launches into, which also seems to kick off the decline in kid friendly speech. F-bombs are abundant, pussy and poontang are thrown around like crazy. He’s a dirty old man.
I fell like Uncle Ted is all torn up inside, and the fight between his schizophrenic sides is making him crazy. On one hand, he’s a country boy, blue color comedy tour, huckle buck good ol’ boy. On the other, he’s this classic rocker who can jive and strum with the best of ’em, idolizing all of the people of color that he stereotypes. How can this guy in the image who is riding a middle finger giving the finger be the author of Stranglehold, on of the best stoner songs of all time? I will never be able to wrap my head around it.
Needless to say, my mouth was agape in awe over the guitar and the words for different reasons all night long. I had a permasmile on my face for half the show. There’s something weird in the spectrum of Frank Zappa meets Weird Al in some Nugent songs, this bizarre humor and nonsensicalness that is amusing on many levels.
A scan on Uncle Ted’s wiki entry reveals some amazing stats: he has toured incessantly since he started in 1967. That’s a lot of Cat Scratch Fever. It makes sense that he’s making a film with Willie Nelson, another artist who has never slowed down in touring. Beer For My Horses is going to be a must see. He spoke of playing the Fillmore once a year since the ’60s, and that Bill Graham had thrown a birthday party there for his son.
The Nuge threw guitar picks into the crowd often, taking them from his wristband where he must have had quite a stash. Mick Brown of Dokken also tossed drumsticks into the crowd a lot. Greg Smith, former bassist for Alice Cooper, performed vocals on a couple of songs, which allowed The Nuge to do some crazier guitar moves.
The one-two punch of Cat Scratch Fever and Stranglehold sent me over the edge- I didn’t think it could get any better. Then The Nuge left the stage, came back in a beautiful headdress, and played ‘Great White Buffalo’ with a white guitar. The whole thing turned into this chant/ritual, where he took off the guitar, hung it up on one side of the stage, and then picked up his bow, lit an arrow, and shot the flaming arrow into the guitar. Oh yeah, that is metal. You could see the holes in the back of the guitar from doing this every night. Needless to say, it was a crowd pleaser.
Star Spangled Banner
Free For All
Dog Eat Dog
Rawdogs & Warhogs
Need You Bad
Girl Scout Cookies
Still Raising Hell
Wang Dang Sweet Poontang
Baby Please Don’t Go
Little Miss Dangerous
Fred Bear (“the #1 song in Michigan for 20 years”)
Cat Scratch Fever (“the #1 guitar lick”)
Stranglehold (“No, this is the #1 guitar lick”)
Great White Buffalo/Spirit of the Wild
Ted Nugent performance: 9/10
venue (The Fillmore): 7.5/10 (There was a spotlight in my eye half the night)
value ($32.50/ticket): 9/10