Ted Nugent lives up to his Motor City Madman reputation in a variety ways, most notably on stage. “I love this shit!” he exclaims throughout his hour and forty minute set from Bakersfield’s Rabobank Theater Sunday night (June 25th). Opening with a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, The Nuge stands mid stage with an array of white and yellow lighting accompanied by smoke emitting from the small stage. The crowd graciously stands and cheers as they’re doused with great rock and roll by one of rock’s most honest and talented singers/guitarists!
Nugent performs a no holds barred show with a giant American flag backdrop and four stacks of Ted Nugent branded Fender amplifiers on both sides of the stage, with six Magnatone and Kustom guitar amps in front of them and the drum riser. Hunting artifacts, another American flag and California state flag were also present around the musicians. The trio doesn’t use any video screens, but instead opts for various lighting patterns over the backdrop flag throughout the night along with a nice light show. The show group was full of energy and performed to a raunchy crowd that couldn’t hold back their excitement.
Nugent spoke to the crowd quite often between songs. He revved them up with sayings like, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and often referring to his songs as “masterpieces.” And masterpieces they are! “Paralyzed,” “Free For All,” “Good Friends And A Bottle Of Wine,” “Wang Dang Poontang” — which he calls “the greatest love song of all time” — “Need You Bad,” “Crave,” “Dog Eat Dog,” “Fred Bear,” “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Stranglehold” and “Great White Buffalo” were all on the set list, among others.
Nugent’s band was superb, as he told me back in April when we spoke. Jason Hartless on drums and Greg Smith on bass round out the rhythm section and all were really tight. “We practice a lot,” Nugent stated at one point claiming they put their heart and soul into the music, and that was very evident. The music, the show and the enthusiasm were very vibrant. Nothing suffered, although I was expecting Nugent to fire off a bow or two during the set.
A Ted Nugent show wouldn’t be complete without politics. “Make California great again!” he exclaimed to the conservative Bakersfield crowd that erupted with cheers. As he began “Fred Bear,” he referred to the “stupid, sick, mother—– who hated hunting” when telling a story about growing up with guns and ammo. The NRA-supported crowd began to cheer loudly as the band kicked into the song.
“Stranglehold” ended the main set with Nugent referring to it as “the number one guitar riff in the world.” He dedicated the nearly ten minute epic to “all you Bakersfield defiant mother—-” to which the crowd erupted! The song has always been one of my favorites since hearing it on Twister in 1996. The performance kicked and was a perfect end to an awesome show! However, Nugent wasn’t finished. He left the stage to chants of “Ted!” from the audience. He returned and kicked into “Great White Buffalo” before wrapping completely for the night.
Ted Nugent and his band prove that rock and roll is still alive and kicking. You just have to know where to look to find it. Opening act Derek Day and his band (also a trio) were down right awesome, too, and are paving the way for newer acts to keep rock and roll alive. Rock has always stood out from other genres as being defiant, loud and proud, and this represents Ted Nugent on and off stage! He truly is an American icon!