By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Ted Nugent kicked off his Detroit Music Tour at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida on July 15, 2022. Except for a couple of engagements in Texas in 2021 and a Motorcycle Rally in Panama Beach City, Florida Spring 2022, this was Nugent’s first concert since his The Music Made Me Do It Again! Tour of 2019.
Tampa Bay’s award-winning 2,000+ seat venue was completely sold-out for the concert which began promptly at 8 p.m. with Nashville-based Rick Monroe & The Hitmen. Wearing a cowboy hat and telling the crowd “I’m originally from Clearwater” the four-piece band entertained the crowd with a 30-minute country rock set, including a harmony-driven version (think Eagles) of Steve Young’s “Seven Bridges Road”. Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades” took on a country flair, much to the crowd’s liking, as much head bopping was observed.
Monroe said to the crowd, “We’re a country band but I don’t know of what country” and performed “The World’s Gone Crazy”. During the set, Monroe pumped up the crowd asking, “Are you ready for Ted Nugent?” The mostly male crowd clad in patriotic attire and “Let’s Go Brandon” shirts cheered in approval.
After the band’s set, a 20-minute intermission ensued, giving the audience time to purchase merchandise or listen to songs like Amboy Duke’s “Journey to the Center of Your Mind”.
Finally, beneath a smog of thick white smoke, Ted Nugent emerged, wearing khakis, a snake-print shirt, and a cowboy hat, playing the 70s classic “Strangehold”. Clean-shaven and appearing very fit, the 73-year old musician sang from a wireless head set and nimbly played his characteristic lead solos. He asked, “Do you feel the groove?” and introduced bassist/vocalist extraordinaire Greg Smith and Detroit drummer Jason Hartless.
Throughout the evening, Nugent echoed the theme of patriotism, by saying “Let’s hear it for the frickin’ attitude and spirit”, performed the National Anthem, and riled up the crowd between songs saying, “Tonight is an important night in my life. I am obviously happy because we haven’t toured since 2019 because of that piece of shit in the White House. I dare those cock suckers to take me on. This is my 6,799th concert.”
The set continued with songs like “Paralyzed” and “Storm Troopin”. Nugent often spoke between songs, often with strings of sentences without pause, about his new album Detroit Muscle, his personal history of guitar playing (“playing since 1956”), his rock-driven music (“Don’t you love music that has a lot of energy? Piss and vinegar”), references to his hometown Detroit, and his hunting (“I’m looking forward to hunting season”).
The crowd went wild, stood to their feet, with cell phones taping the song “Free-For-All”. Nugent’s performed his solos with their distinctive guitar tone, sang with gusto, and showed the exuberance of his youth, minus jumping off of speakers and swinging off ropes “Tarzan” style. His music resonates well even today—as it did in my junior high years—thus, the reason for reviewing his concert.
Nugent expressed he was “having the time of his life” and praised the crowd (“this is what ‘we the people’ looks like”), dissed the government (“dumb mother fuckers”), and touted Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis (“you have the right governor in Florida”). He announced the evening was his wife Shemane’s birthday (“she’s 60”) as she came on the stage and kissed him.
Saying the band was going to perform a “brand new song” called “Come and Take It”, Nugent asked the crowd to sing along with its chorus. He changed the words to the recorded version saying, “Let’s go Brandon/fuck Joe Biden/don’t you even try it.” Quickly, the room erupted into full chanting and screaming, “fuck Joe Biden…fuck Joe Biden.”
Nugent performed “American Campfire” and paid homage to his wife by performing “My Girl” and “Hey, Baby”, which was sung by Smith. Again, touting the crowd as his “pro-American friends” the band performed “Good Friends and a Bottle of Wine”.
Nugent recalled his childhood saying, “I was born in Detroit in 1948. Daddy let me practice guitar every day. I got my first bow and arrow at three years old. It taught me the spirit of the wild.
“There was a man that touched my soul. He moved to Gainesville, Florida. This is a song about my friend.” The band performed “Fred Bear”, the song which pays homage to the father of the modern bow and arrow system.
The evening would not be complete without the high energy classic “Cat Scratch Fever”.
Overall, the musical performance of the evening was riveting—as was the banter between songs. Politics aside, I focused on the music, which was awesome. The concert will be double-pleasure for the right-leaning crowd or those longing for a Trump rally.
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