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Concert Review: Ted Nugent, Arcada Theatre, St. Charles, IL, July 23, 2022

by Mike Tomano

(C) 2022 Michael Tomano / Fossil Entertainment Group

At 73, The Motor City Madman, Ted Nugent, continues to explore uncharted musical territory, as he and his top-notch band proved once again at the first of their two-night stint at St. Charles’ beautiful Arcada Theatre, last night. Opening the show was Chicago-area band The Outfit, a hard-rocking quartet with a hard-driving Cheap Trick meets Foo-Fighters sound; they are a band worth checking out.

Opening with a firestorm rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, Nugent, along with bassist Greg Smith and drummer Jason Hartless, launched into a series of old and new Nuge Classics, starting with the uproarious “Gonzo.” In between songs, Ted treated the crowd to his uninhibited comedy, common-sense We The People political commentary, and down-to-earth campfire camaraderie.

Two songs from his latest masterpiece, Detroit Muscle, made their way into the set, the anthemic call-to-arms and freedom, “Come & Take It,” which featured a crowd participation sing-along “salute” to the corrupt current administration, and “American Campfire,” a driving celebration of this timeless tradition.

Nuge-gems like “Free-For-All,” “Paralyzed” and the romantic love ballad, “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” were stretched out into extended jams, taking the audience, and the band, on a musical journey into new sonic worlds. “Good Friends and a Bottle of Wine” included a diversion into a soul-stirring medley of Nugent instrumentals like "Homebound," “Free Flight,” “Earthtones,” “WinterSpring SummerFall,” and the epic “Hibernation.”

Bassist Greg Smith added his upper-range stellar vocals on the Rhythm & Blues jewel, “Hey Baby” and the prophetic “Stormtroopin,” showing why he is one of the most in-demand four-string thumpers in music. Drummer Jason Hartless provided the percussive bombast behind his retro-vintage Pearl drumkit. Jason’s propulsive style mixes the finesse of Jeff Porcaro, the rock-solid groove of John Bonham and the spontaneous explosiveness of Keith Moon. Together, Smith and Hartless make up the most formidable rhythm section in music.

And then there’s that Nugent guitar tone. Whether he was strapping on his battered Gibson Byrdlands, a golden Les Paul or a zebra-striped PRS, the notes emitted from his axe through custom amplifiers achieved new heights and raised the bar in guitar tone history. A perfect balance of creamy richness, barbed-wire sharpness and wild beast grunts and grinds filled the theatre, reaching deep into the soul of every real music lover in attendance. The Nugent Guitar Tone stands alone amongst the giants.

The song “Fred Bear” is special. Written after the great hunter passed, the song has come to exemplify friendship and the unique bond shared by those who live The Great Outdoors Lifestyle. Ted dedicated it to all who share this love.

One thing people do not do at a Ted Nugent concert is sit-still. We danced. We sang. We cheered. We roared. We connected. We grooved to “Cat Scratch Fever”, and we watched all the ladies grind away to “Stranglehold.” For a couple of hours, everything was right.

The fact that Ted Nugent is such a much-needed anomaly, not just in music but in attitude, was not lost on the crowd. A tireless crusader of individual rights, freedom and the foundations of American Life, Ted represents the most-vocal defiance in the arena of political and social madness plaguing our nation and world.

Lord have mercy. What a connection, indeed.

The show closed with a stunning version of “Great White Buffalo,” a magic song whose message rings louder today than when it was released in 1974. The Great White Buffalo, who found the battered herd and led them ‘cross the land. Real Americans. Workin’ Hard, Playin’ Hard “Shitkickers” are The Great White Buffalo. In what Ted calls ‘Clusterfuck ’22,” we must channel the spirit and commitment to “make a final stand.”

God Bless America. God Bless Ted Nugent. God Bless You. Rock On.


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