DVD review: TED NUGENT – Ultralive Ballisticrock

Ted Nugent - Ultralive Ballisticrock (DVD)

Frontiers – Out Now.

Theodore Anthony Nugent is a man who has, of late, managed to find himself in the spotlight for reasons that have more to do with his staunch conservative political views, rather than his musical abilities.

There are times, however, when ‘Uncle Ted’ chooses to focus his energy on his high velocity Rock‘n’Roll rather than on supporting the legality of the second amendment and these are the very times that the sixty four year old and his musical band-mates find themselves once again on the road.

Filmed back in 2011 in a ‘suitable’ venue in Pennsylvania/USA, “Ultralive Ballisticrock” is testimony to how thoroughly professional and highly entertaining this great guitarist and composer can still be at this late stage of his career, if, of course you are ready and willing to turn a blind eye to his deliberately controversial and pretty caustic political comments & ideas.

Nugent’s Pennsylvania performance is what you could only really describe as a ‘health and safety nightmare’: children as young as four years old in the front row without wearing any protective gear, fully loaded compound bows accompanied by flaming arrows, replica machine guns…the list is endless really.

However, none of the numerous fans who decided to brave the strong rain in order to attend this show really seemed to mind. Maybe this is due to Nugent’s charisma and the way in which he approaches his live performances, which are all-involving and highly entertaining affairs.

It is this very flamboyance, clearly manifested in the opening track “Free For All”, that people love Ted Nugent for – something that the Michigan-born entertainer recognises and appreciates really well.

Intensity and skilled craftsmanship are two elements that characterise the band’s overall performance – no surprise, when it features musicians like Derek St.Holmes (vocals guitar), Greg Smith (bass) and “Wild” Mick Brown (drums). When Nugent introduces “Just What The Doctor Ordered” to his mesmerised crowd you know that he’s speaking the truth and his top guitar skills on “Raw Dogs & War Hogs” and “Dog Eat Dog” make you somehow forget the long and politicised renderings that accompany them.

Killer renditions of “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Stanglehold” meet the crowd’s enthusiastic reaction, while the arrow-shooting incident and recreation of the Iwo Jima picture by a helmet-wearing Nugent and his fellow troops during the closing classic “Great White Buffalo” is as much entertaining as it is baffling to a non-hard-core American, such as myself.

Politics play, by definition, an important role in people’s lives and your acceptance or rejection of “Ultralive Ballisticrock” is bound to be influenced by your ideological stance.

Though I find myself at pains to relate to a number of Ted Nugent’s political views, I have decided to treat this live CD/DVD as a product of heavy Rock’n’Roll entertainment rather than a vehicle for political propaganda, and as such it is a highly successful one.

It was during the performance of “Raw Dogs & War Hogs” that Nugent confidently said: ‘Nobody plays like this anymore because nobody else can!’ and, you know, I am inclined to believe him!

John Stefanis

Rating: ****1/2 (4.5/5.0)

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