A short hour and twenty minute drive from the ‘safe space’ of Chicago, IL lies a pretty different world. A parking lot loaded with Harley’s, trucks with American flags flying out the back – and lots and lots of shirts, flags and items baring President Trump’s name and MAGA slogan. This is Woodstock, and unlike the music festival of 50 years ago, this was a rock n roll party where the politics were a tad different.
The announcement of this show drew protests, or what I would call free publicity. The show sold out quickly and it was jam packed in the new permanent grandstand area on the fair grounds that holds 7000 people. The crowd was raucous just in anticipation of their uncle Teddy taking the stage.
When you open with ‘Stranglehold’ you know you have a pretty stacked set list. Appearing from the darkness, Nugent emerged ripping that classic riff and when the lights came up he was set on stage with a 50ft American flag in the back and various animal skulls strewn about – that, we can be pretty sure, he probably dined on the flesh of years earlier. Ted is certainly an original in rock n roll, and if you don’t agree with him, he will tell you why you should.
For a 70 year old playing his, almost 7000th, show he had the energy of a 21 year old playing his 20th show. His 3 piece band, rounded out with Greg Smith on bass and former child prodigy, Jason Hartless, on drums provide a solid boogie rhythm section for the Nuge’s manic soul fueled rock n roll.
The set hit the classics like ‘Cat Scratch Fever’, ‘Free For All’, ‘Wang Dang Sweet Poontang’, and ‘Spirit of the Wild’ but there were some notable omissions such as ‘Wango Tango’ and ‘Dog Eat Dog’ (when you have a catalog that spans over 50 years it’s probably hard to wedge everything in – and omissions aside the crowd ate up uncle Ted’s riffs like pudding on a warm spoon.
Of course it wouldn’t be a Motor City Madman show without a little politics and Ted did declare this outpost, ‘the real Illinois’ – ‘where the 2nd Amenndment and the constitution is still loved and respected’ – but it didn’t engulf the show, though he did close with ‘The Great White Buffalo’ saying ‘we needed to keep that great white buffalo in the office in 2020’ – a little jab and nod all in one!
Seeing Nugent live is an experience that all rock n roll fans should take it at some point and someone needs to explain how this man isn’t in the rock n roll hall of fame…. He bleeds rock n roll.