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Blu-ray Music Review: Ted Nugent – Motor City Mayhem

Written by Pirata Hermoso

On July 4th, 2008 the Motor City Madman performed his 6,000th show in front of his hometown fans. On June 30th, 2009 the CD, DVD, and Blu-ray discs of the concert went on sale nationwide.

I can remember the first time I heard a Ted Nugent album. It was Double Live Gonzo! and we were listening because it contained a song titled “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang.” What teenage boy could turn down a song with that title? The crazy song title may be what first grabbed my attention, but songs like “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Stranglehold” are what kept me listening.

As an artist, Ted Nugent is best known for his sophomoric lyrics, fast rap, and loudmouth personality that forged his nickname, “Motor City Madman.” Unfortunately, he upstages his own amazing guitar skills and deserves more props for his musicianship than he normally receives.

But now Ted is 60 years old and in this concert his mouth isn’t as quick as it used to be. Of course, there is the usual Nugent banter, but it’s toned down. It may be because it’s the 4th of July and his attention is on the holiday and the celebration of the moment, but he is constantly yelling “Freedom!” and commenting on the greatness of America and its men and women in the armed services.

The beginning of the concert starts with a number of troops from the Selfridge Air National Guard standing on stage while a giant red, white, and blue cake is wheeled out to the center of the stage. It’s a bit awkward and choppy at first, but suddenly Nugent comes out from the side of the stage and begins playing the “The Star-Spangled Banner” on his guitar.

This is probably my favorite part of the entire show, not because Ted does an awesome version of our national anthem (which he does), but because Cristy Lee, the WRIF-FM Rock Girl, pops up out of the cake and wiggles around in a Stars & Stripes decorated bikini. At that moment I felt so…inspired and filled…with patriotism that I had to watch this portion of the concert several times before I continued, and even one time once it was all over.

The rest of the concert is strictly a musical affair. There are no pyrotechnics, dancers, or video clips distracting you from the music. The stage is sparse with only a giant banner of Ted dressed as Uncle Sam as a backdrop. The band is tight and contains only two other members, drummer Mick Brown, and bassist Greg Smith. The three play all of Ted’s most famous songs, and Smith does lead vocals on “Need You Bad,” while Nugent trades in his sunburst Gibson for one painted with an American flag.

Halfway through the concert, the guest performers begin to show up. Ted’s first guitar instructor from 50 years ago, Joe Podorsek, is introduced and plays some great rhythm and blues on the song “Honky Tonk.” A few songs later, legendary drummer Johnny “Bee” Badanjek, from Mitch Ryder performs on “Jenny Take a Ride.” And finally, Derek St. Holmes, Ted Nugent’s original singer, arrives for “Hey Baby,” “Cat Scratch Fever,” and “Stranglehold.”

Overall, if you’re already a Ted Nugent fan, this concert is a nice addition to your collection. He has never been better on the guitar and it’s obvious he’s been playing for over 40 years as it looks completely effortless. His vocals are a little rougher than in his youth and he does a lot more screaming than singing, but he’s having a good time and it fits in with the concert experience.

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  • Paul Roy

    Nice review. I may have to pick this up for the Derek St. Holmes performances. Ted can still play his ass off, but he is not a good enough singer to carry the band live. The last time I saw him live, and his last couple of live DVDs, were only so so because of it.