Politics and classic rock anthems come hand-in-hand at a Ted Nugent concert, but during his recent visit to Orlando’s Plaza Live, the Nuge set the emphasis towards manic guitar licks and rowdy cuts from across his discography before a sold out crowd of longtime listeners and newcomers alike.
Plenty of Americana and towers of Kustom and Magnatone amplifiers made up the stage in this intimate setting; you could feel the wall of sound as Nugent and his band, made up of longtime bassist Greg Smith and drummer Jason Hartless, ran onstage tearing into a high octane rendition of America’s national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.”
“We’re all gonna be alright!” belted Uncle Ted as he changed up the pace and poured out the chord progression to a blues classic, “Baby, Please Don’t Go” – first made popular by Delta bluesman Big Joe Williams back in 1935.
There forward Nugent rocked across a strong mix of his greatest hits (ala “Stranglehold” and “Cat Scratch Fever”) and deep cuts from a few fan favorite records.
“Good Friends and a Bottle of Wine” off 1978’s ‘Weekend Warriors’ and “Paralyzed” from 1979’s ‘State of Shock’ were a few of the songs Ted pulled back into the set, which set well alongside more widely received staples like the title track from “Free For All” and the staple hunting-themed rocker “Fred Bear” off ‘Spirit of the Wild.’
Nuge, the 68 year old hard rock musician and political activist, remains a high energy performer. You can tell he’s still passionate about his craft as he swings the audience to his corner with spiels like “I know why you’re all here, to hear some of the greatest guitar riffs in the history of rock and roll. I know, cause I wrote ’em all.” Cue in that swinging riff to “Gonzo.”
To be fair, Ted could have unleashed his signature right-wing political views throughout the course of the night as I’ve seen before at a Nugent concert and the crowd would’ve eaten out of his hand; a good portion of the crowd were seen donning their own NRA and Trump-themed apparel, and broke out in applause when the Nuge mentioned how he gave all of his grand-kids machine guns and said he told security if anyone didn’t bring a firearm to the show to give ’em one.
And yet for the most part the performance was largely settled in high velocity rock and roll; Nugent’s patriotism shone brightest through his taste in stage props and the evening’s set opener.
Closing with a knockout rendition of “The Great White Buffalo/ Spirit of the Wild,” Ted Nugent and company rocked The Plaza Live in Orlando with fierce blues rock themes and that personality unlike any other.