From the Tucson Examiner
By Kevin Yeanoplos
Class was in session at Phoenix’ Celebrity Theatre as Uncle Ted exuberantly expounded to his rapt students about politics, race relations, and relationships – with some killer rock ‘n roll thrown in for extra credit.
The Nuge was in town as part of his “Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead” U.S. Tour. Incredibly, he’s been touring annually since 1967. On July 4, 2008, he celebrated his 6,000th concert. In a recent interview (read it at Ted Nugent interview: straight talk from a straight-shooter) I asked him about the next 6,000.
“Don't I wish! The 1st 6000 were certainly a joyous adventure were they not? Amazingly, Mick, Greg and I are creating the most intense, high energy rockin’ music of my life on this current 2010 Trample the Weak Hurdle the Dead tour and many killer new songs are erupting. I see no end in sight. Thank God, huh?”
Nugent bounded on to a Celebrity stage conspicuously draped with a huge American flag, embellished with machine guns and cow skulls.
I don’t know what kind of music Francis Scott Key favored, but just a taste of The Nuge’s bold rendering of the “Star Spangled Banner” to kick-off the show would have turned him into red, white, and blue rocker.
From there, Nugent played like an axe-grinding Vader as he led bassist Greg Smith and drummer Wild Mick Brown through an ominous, driving “Stormtroopin’.
He dedicated the next cut to his “Arizona brothers” as he launched into a spirited “Wango Tango.” To drive the point home, the intro drew on the immediately recognizable opening bars of The Kinks’ classic, “You Really Got Me.”
Uncle Ted promised the crowd, “I’m movin’ to Arizona!” and professed his admiration for Governor Jan Brewer in characteristic Nugent fashion, “How ‘bout that ***ch!?” before rolling into “Wang Dang Sweet.” Smith’s pounding bass sounded like a runaway locomotive, chasing Nugent’s terrified, skittering lead guitar up the tracks.
Reminding the roiling crowd of the freedoms that we too often take for granted, Nugent declared, “You can’t do that in France – you can’t do that in Germany – you can’t do that in Canada – you can’t do that in Mexico.”
He then pledged his support for servicemen, dedicating “Warhogs” to all of the members of the military in the audience. Seemingly playing to the troops, Smith’s bass, Brown’s drums and Nugents guitar all mimicked staccato machine gun fire.
The Nuge’s pleading guitar solo belied his true feelings for the audience on “I Need You Bad.” His licks on the extended intro, along with Smith’s bass solo and vocals, made this song one of the night’s highlights.
Following up on the tremendous tune, the band exploded into “Love Grenade,” leaving no doubt that Nugent was a “dangerous weapon babe!” His stalking guitar playing on the song made any skeptical fans run for cover.
For all of the couples in the audience, he talked about his penchant for writing love songs, even dedicating the next song to President Barack Obama while expressing his “deep feelings” for him. To make my job easier as a reviewer, I always try to get a set list from the shows I attend. Occasionally, an artist will abbreviate a long song title into an acronym.
As I was scanning Uncle Ted’s set list before the show, I noticed a set of initials that I just couldn’t make heads or tails of. The song was a mystery until I heard Nugent’s furious guitar leading the boys into the chorus of “KLSTRP**ME” and I suddenly gained a new appreciation of his feelings for the President.
Before unleash a soulfully electrified translation of “Soul Man,” Nugent rightfully reminded the audience of the Motor City’s importance in the evolution of significant music, dedicating his take on the song to his “Detroit soul brothers. “ The tune was the high point of the show for me and rivaled Sam and Dave’s stellar original.
Nugent paid tribute to his father on the classic “Fred Bear,” screening a video montage of their hunting adventures. He spoke of the unlikely success of the song in our recent interview.
“All my songs erupt spontaneously to satisfy my own musical cravings, and their commercial successes have no bearing whatsoever. The music industry is clueless that my amazing song “Fred Bear” from 1989 has been the #1 song in both states that play it, MI & WI. I couldn't be happier.”
The crowd was at a fever pitch as he closed out the set. Nugent and the band clawed their way through his self-proclaimed “No. 1 guitar hit in the history of the world,” “Cat Scratch Fever” then took their remaining breath away with “Stranglehold.”
As he ended the show with “Great White Buffalo,” it was clear that no one in the sellout crowd left disappointed.
You might not agree with all of Uncle Ted’s views, but he proved once again with his energetic show at the Celebrity, that you can’t argue with the politics of his music.