Sound: When Ted Nugent performed his 6,000th concert on the very patriotic date of July 4, 2008, he gave his fans exactly what they had come to love about the Motor City Madman namely lots of meaty riffs, patriotism galore, and of course, a bit of chatter about his favorite pastime, hunting. While there are plenty of classic rock artists who have lost their edginess (and energy) with the passing decades, Nugent is an anomaly. At 60 years of age, the guitarist/vocalist has somehow maintained both his wild, uninhibited persona and his playing skills. The main difference is the way he is deciding to focus his wild-and-crazy persona, which is now being a poster child for the gun-toting right wing. Even if your political views don't click with Nugent's, it's hard to argue with the fact that he is still the consummate onstage performer when listening to the new live 2-disk CD Motor City Mayhem.
Setting the stage for the 6,000th concert at DTE Energy Music Theater in Detroit, Michigan, was many of the musicians that figured prominently in Nugent's career throughout the years. With backing from Derek St. Holmes (the vocalist behind such classics as Stranglehold, Hey Baby, and Dog Eat Dog), Johnny Bee Bdanjek (drummer for Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels), and even former guitar teacher Joe Podorsik, Nugent had all the makings of a memorable event. And for the most part, Motor City Mayhem is an engaging, nostalgic venture. With 2 disks and 23 tracks (21 actual songs, an intro, and an outro), the concert release features all the big hits, into which Nugent still injects new life.
There is no question that Nugent still can engage an audience, particularly considering he is one of the most honest, outspoken rock artists around. That tends to be both a good and a bad thing during the 6,000th performance. If you came to hear the hits Motor City Madhouse, Wango Tango, Cat Scratch Fever, and Stranglehold, Nugent and his band delivered. It was especially effective with St. Holmes once again on vocals, and Nugent is still an amazing talent on the guitar. Between each song Nugent would shout with the enthusiasm of 20 or 30 men, and it's hard not to be completely wrapped up in the performance because of that fact.
The main issue comes and it's probably not even an issue for a lot of people with Nugent's tendency to prattle on about topics like hunting and loving America. By now most people know Nugent's political views, but do be prepared for a whole lot of talk about living Independence Day every single day and celebrating freedom. Again, there is nothing wrong with those comments, but he does return to the topic a bunch. When it comes time to perform Great White Buffalo and Fred Bear, Nugent goes into hunter mode and for what seems like several minutes repeats how he will sacrifice and eat the buffalo. What can you say? It's Nugent. // 8
Lyrics: Nugent is an icon in the classic rock world, and he has never been apologetic about his lifestyle. Back in the day he was quite the ladies' man, and songs like Love Grenade and Wang Dang Sweet Poontang certainly chronicle that era. There is nothing subtle about Nugent's lyrical approach, and frankly, it works extremely well for the rock genre. With over 20 songs during the concert, you get plenty of material (much of which doesn't even broach the topic of sex), and fans of the rock icon shouldn't be disappointed. // 8
Overall Impression: When you purchase a ticket to see a Ted Nugent concert, you probably know what to expect. The last time I had the opportunity to see the guitarist, it was during the Iraqi War and Nugent was all about taking down the terrorists and extolling the virtues of Bush. The Bush era has passed, but Nugent still loves his country, and that comes across quite clearly between each track. If you don't care to hear his views on killing wildlife or the spirit of America, you always have the option of hitting the next button. Musically, however, Nugent delivers in full. After hearing the enthusiasm and musical chemistry on Motor City Mayhem, it wouldn't be the least bit surprising to one day hear about Nugent putting on his 7,000th, 8,000th, or hell, 10,000th show a few years down the line. // 8
- Amy Sciarretto (c) 2009