As a recording of the Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man" gave way to a live cyclone of guitar riffs, Ted Nugent strolled on stage at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix Aug. 8. While drummer Jason Hartless and bass player Greg Smith got ready to rock, Nugent continued riffing and assured the crowd, "It's gonna be alright! It's gonna be alright, Uncle Teddy is back in town!" And indeed the next couple of hours were far more than alright.
Nugent would offer many patriotic gestures throughout the evening, including shout-outs to the US military, and the show began with Nugent's take on the "Star-Spangled Banner." The crowd was already on its feet to welcome the classic rock legend even before the national anthem began, and they remained standing for a rowdy version of Big Joe Williams' "Baby Please Don't Go," the blues boogie that's most often associated with Muddy Waters. Nugent then delved into his own catalog for favorites "Gonzo," "Free-For-All" and the playfully lascivious "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang."
Always the showman, Nugent struck many classic rock and roll poses as he played, and used a headset mic so he wouldn't have to step to a mic stand to sing or engage in stage patter. Known for speaking his mind, Nugent made a few asides about some of the country's current issues to an agreeable audience but the biggest reaction to his banter came when he mentioned (as he did a few times) that he was the creator of some of rock's greatest guitar riffs.
The middle of the set was filled-out with "Paralyzed," "Dog Eat Dog," "Good Friends and a Bottle of Wine" and "Need You Bad," which was sung by Smith. The Nuge also played "The Music Made Me Do It," which is the title cut from his forthcoming album and also the name of the tour. That left some of the biggies for the show's ending, and Nugent delivered the anticipated "Spirit of the Wild"/"Fred Bear," "Cat Scratch Fever" and "Stranglehold" to top off the evening, noting as he strapped on his 1963 Gibson before "Cat Scratch Fever" that "She only plays sexy songs."
To much fanfare and crowd adulation, Nugent, Hartless and Smith left the stage only to return shortly to answer the encore call with "The Great White Buffalo," a favorite from the 1974 Ted Nugent's Amboy Dukes album Tooth Fang & Claw.
Nugent has played the Celebrity Theatre numerous times and he mentioned his fondness for the venue during his performance, saying that he hoped he would return many times. Clearly the audience had the same notion.
Upcoming shows at Celebrity Theatre include:
Aug. 17 - Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang
Aug. 18 - Phunk Junkeez and Authority Zero
Aug. 21 - Rick Springfield with Loverboy, Greg Kihn, Tommy Tutone
Aug. 25 - Ne-Yo
Aug. 31 - Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman
For a complete list of upcoming concerts go here
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