Concert Review: Ted Nugent with Pat Travers at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Surrounded by machine guns, compound bows and a few eerily-lit buffalo skulls, Nugent took the stage carrying a Gibson Les Paul painted like the American flag. Spurring memories of Hendrix, he launched into a screaming instrumental version of "Star Spangled Banner" that immediately brought the crowd to its feet. At the song’s conclusion, Nugent held up his guitar and said “You see this guitar? It’s an American guitar; made in Kalamazoo, Michigan.” The crowd erupted in applause as he ripped off the intro to "Stormtroopin’", from his self-titled 1975 release Ted Nugent.


Nugent spent the next two hours at full throttle, tearing through a setlist that included "Free For All", "Rawdogs and Warthogs", "Love Grenade", "Hey Baby","Just What the Doctor Ordered" and "Stranglehold." Uncle Ted also offered a few unexpected tunes, like a cover of the 1967 Sam and Dave hit "Soul Man", a little bit of the Kinks standard "You Really Got Me" that slipped into "Wango Tango," and Chuck Berry’s "Johnny B. Goode," which featured Nugent swapping guitar licks with opener Pat Travers. My personal favorite was "Klstrphnky," which had Nugent concert newbies turning red as they mouthed the phonetic title out loud. The evening’s encore tune, "Great White Buffalo," brought Nugent to the stage dressed in a full Native American ceremonial headdress.


For anyone familiar with Ted Nugent, the revelation that the evening’s performance was full of Nugent’s personal political views should come as no shocker. Intertwined with the music, Nugent spoke of his friends in the military, his opinion of Florida Governor Charlie Crist and even paused for a moment of silence for two Tampa police officers killed on Tuesday.  He even offered his feelings on the upcoming holiday weekend, with “Happy Defiance Day, from Uncle Ted”. I wonder if I’ll ever get to use my "Ted Nugent for President" bumper sticker for real.


In all, Ted Nugent offered the kind of loud, hell-raising, as-kicking, take-no-prisoners, offer-no-excuses brand of music that has made him famous, and his fans loved him for it. Even at the young age of 62, Uncle Ted just seems to be hitting his prime and I can’t wait to see him again.


[image-1]Tasked with opening for the Motor City Madman, Florida native Pat Travers held up his end of the evening with a rocking set. Pumping out nearly 122 decibels as far back as row "W," Travers belted out tune after tune full of the tight, bluesy guitar work that has earned him a cult-like following for more than thirty years. During his 60-minute set, Travers revved up the audience with hits like "Boom, Boom (Out Go the Lights)," "Stevie," "Snortin’ Whiskey" and even a cover of the blues standard "Red House." Travers also offered a few tunes from his new CD, Fidelis. Opening for Ted Nugent is not a gig most musicians could handle, but Pat Travers was more than up to the task


Pat Travers Gallery (Photos by Tracy May)


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Ted Nugent Gallery (Photos by Tracy May)


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I’ve been to several Ted Nugent concerts over the years, going back to my first experience in about 1979. Nugent headlined an outdoor stadium concert in Charlotte, North Carolina with opening acts Foreigner, Mother’s Finest and Black Oak Arkansas. It was an awesome concert and Ted stole the show with lots of onstage antics and his high-energy brand of guitar-driven rock. More than three decades later, the Motor City Madman doesn’t seem to have lost any of his steam. Bringing his Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead tour to Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall on Wednesday night, Uncle Ted (as Nugent is known to his fans) blasted the dust and cobwebs from the corners of the hall and exorcised any remaining remnants of Backstreet Boys funk still lurking in the rafters.

(Photos by Tracy May)

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