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Ted Nugent
A Concert Review
[More Photos From the Concert]

December 27, 1996

The Star Plaza Theatre

Merrillville, IN

A Review and Photos by
The Dude on the Right
Whatever happened to kick-ass, guitar-driven, American made rock & roll? As I took my seat right in front of the bass stacks at the Star Plaza Theatre I wondered this. I'll tell you what I think happened to it - those crazy punk kids, tormented by their inner-drive for self-destruction is what happened to it. Sadly, gone seem to be the days when a dude, while wailing on guitar, can make a statement about the fight he has to make to save his freedoms. In the case of Ted Nugent, his passion is for hunting, and he may curse those who attempt to make the laws, but still seems to be proud to be an American because he always knows he can fight to change those laws.

For me, my respect for the Motor City Madman is two-fold. First and foremost, for his raw musical talent, and secondly for having the balls to not sit back and cry "oh, my life is horrible, I think I'll be sad and hope somebody notices my inner pain." Oh no, he does what every red-blooded American has the right to do and that is fight for his beliefs. Out front, outspoken, and sometimes out of his mind on guitar, Ted Nugent shouldn't be cursed for his beliefs, he should be applauded for standing up for them. And he should also be applauded for keeping that kick-ass, guitar-driven, American made rock & roll alive and well. Hey, how's that for some personal ranting and raving about Ted Nugent? Yea, yea, you're saying, "come on dude, what about the god-damn show?" Well, yea, there was a show, and if it is Ted Nugent it can almost never be anything but incredible.

As the lights go down, the crowd is on their feet, and I'm filled with a sudden fear. Why? Well, as Ted rode out on a buffalo, I'm thinking to myself, "Self, I better give him a good review or else he might sick that buffalo after me!" For those of you who have only seen buffalo in movies or pictures, let me tell you this - they are some huge animals, and I mean huge. But there was Ted, proud as a mama who just gave birth, riding out for the first of his annual "Whiplash Bash" dates, his yearly cruise around the midwest around Christmas time. He climbs off the buffalo, dons his guitar, and as the opening riffs of "Catch Scratch Fever" fill the air, this is going to be one loud night, one of classics, one of some preaching, and just one hell of a good night. I'm happy, I won't have to worry about that Ted sending that buffalo after me because I can tell already where this review is going.

It's funny, Ted Nugent gets a bad rap from those same critics who once praised him, but whose musical tastes change from year to year. They dismiss Ted as old-news, someone who had some catchy guitar-driven songs, and is too outspoken for the good of humanity, but tell that to the near sell-out crowd in Indiana this night and you're just likely to get your ass beat. For a man who has been out of the musical spotlight for awhile, in terms of press and records, he still has some of the most loyal, dedicated, and sometimes completely insane fans. This night, like every Nugent show I have seen, they loved every minute of Ted's nearly two hour show, and like every Nugent show I have seen, Ted seemed to love every minute of Ted's nearly two hour show too.

This was a night of classics, like "Free for All" and a rip-roaring version of "Stranglehold" as well as tipping the scale on his latest "Spirit of the Wild" release with a ramming version of "Fred Bear" and "I Just Want to go Hunting." The dude is 48 years old and can blow the shit out of many of the younger generation of rockers, and he even seems to know it. From the chorus of "Boo's" from the crowd when asked "You want alternative rock & roll?" to the laughs and cheers from comments like "How come I look so good and you don't? You haven't been eating your venison have you?" and "How about my buffalo?" Ted Nugent kept the crowd on its feet and rocking the entire night. He flashes his guitar like a trophy, holding it high and bowing in front of it, and to many, it might be that, a trophy, but to me it is more of a symbol of a rock & roll age we have almost lost - but as long as Ted is around I know it won't die. Thank God.

As he came out on the buffalo one last time for his encore, I'm thinking I hope he wasn't lying when he said something about heading back on the road during '97. His fingers are flying over his guitar, my ears are bleeding, and the crowd is still going crazy, and as he lets the guitar play on, he grabs his bow, lights the arrow, and drives the arrow through the heart of the guitar - complete with an explosion. He may have killed the guitar, but may kick-ass, guitar-driven, American made rock & roll live on!

Ted Nugent, well, shit, is there anything else he can get but TWO HUGE, KICK-ASS, GOD BLESS THE AMERICAN GUITAR, THUMBS UP!! Nope.

That's it for this one, I'm The Dude on the Right!!! L8R!!!