Perhaps the best way to distinguish Ted Nugent tours these days is by the concert artwork.
The backdrop for Nugent's current outing, the "Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead" tour, which roared into Penn's Penn in Jim Thorpe Thursday night, features a caricature of the Nuge, with a maniacal grin, riding in a tank, machine guns blazing in each hand.
Is the 61 year-old Nugent ever going to slow down? Perish that thought!
The Motor City Madman is as outrageous as ever, as his two-hour return to The Peak demonstrated. To paraphrase the Nuge himself, the sold out crowd may have yet to see Uncle Ted peak.
For two solid hours, Ted the Sledge unleashed his frenzied brand of guitar-driven hard rock, or "soul music", as the man from Motown labeled it, as he wrung riff after riff from his Stars and Stripes styled Gibson Les Paul, including the opening rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner".
"Spirit, Attitude, Defiance" became a mantra for the Nuge, proud as ever to be an American and rocking his butt off for his devoted "bloodbrothers", as he referred to his packed house of fanatics.
It is tempting to think of a Nuge show as an NRA Convention set to music, as his love of guns and hunting makes most of the GOP seem meek by comparison, but Uncle Ted wears his convinctions on his sleeves for everyone to see, so anyone who doesn't like it should move to the side, or else be trampled beneath another Nugent onslaught.
There was no shortage of rants in this Tedocracy, with the amps cranked up to stun volume. One cannot deny the sheer power of the Nuge's rocking attack, however, as he unleashed such crazed anthems as "Stormtroopin'" and "Free For All" from his glory days of the 1970's.
Backed by the jackhammer rhythm section of bassist Greg Smith and drummer "Wild" Mick Brown once again, Nugent was able to display more of his musical scope than one might give him credit. He worked "Cool Jerk" and "You Really Got Me" into his wild "Wango Tango", tossed off a bluesy jam at one point, and even added a loose cover of Sam and Dave's "Soul Man", adding lyrics about machine guns and barbecues.
Greg Smith got to sing lead on a trio of Nuge classics, "Need You Bad", "Hey Baby" and "Just What the Doctor Ordered", demonstrating he could handle vocal chores as well as previous Nuge singers such as Derek St. Holmes and Charlie Huhn. That is, of course, when Uncle Ted wasn't doing the singing himself.
This was no mere trip down Memory Lane, however. Nugent took the opportunity to showcase some of his newer material, and from the sound of it, he hasn't lost his touch in coming up with hard rocking hooks such as in "Love Grenade" and the tour's title song, which is too good a theme for the Nuge to waste just for a tour poster.
The bombardment continued with "Raw Dogs and War Hogs" and another in your face number which has an expletive-filled title and chorus which can't be reproduced here, even in its abbreviated form.
Ted did have one surprise, however. With the help of opening act Val Halla, he performed a new song, "Never Stop Dreaming", which he dedicated to the terminally ill children who attend some of his hunting camp programs, as well as members of the military who are maimed while serving their country. The song was accompanied by a video that has its share of poignant moments.
The Nuge shifted gears back into overdrive after that, with the one-two punch of "Cat Scratch Fever" and "Stranglehold", cranking out stinging licks over the churning rhythms of Smith and Brown on the later.
For his encore, it was "Great White Buffalo", with Ted in full Native American headdress, coupled with "Fred Bear". For good measure, the Nuge displayed his marksmanship in between, nailing the back of his guitar with a flaming arrow from a crossbow, then leaving the six-string whining in feedback while momentarily leaving the stage.
The Nuge once again heeded the Spirit of the Wild, and his bloodbrothers would expect no less.