There’s only one band who puts on a live show that successfully transports you back to 1988, and that’s Poison. Their tour has been a summer tradition for years now and they take along other bands of the genre. I wasn’t even planning on going to the Poison show in Holmdel, N.J, because I’ve seen them so many times and their show doesn’t change much. As the date the got closer I knew it was going to be a blast so I caved and wound up getting tickets anyway.
Truthfully, Poison never fails to launch the audience far into the stratosphere. They give us what we expect and it’s both a pro and a con that Poison plays songs that everyone knows. There isn’t one song that people go to the bathroom for. Fallen Angel..check…Ride The Wind…check…etc. It’s worth mentioning that Poison doesn’t have many “bathroom songs” unlike when I’m watching a WWE pay per view and there’s almost always a “bathroom match.” I would like to hear some of the lesser heard songs from their best album “Look What the Cat Dragged In,” but that never happens because Poison wants you to be familiar, on your feet, and rocking out for their entire performance. From my favorite song of theirs “Look What The Cat Dragged In,” all the way to “Unskinny Bop” they rocked the PNC bank Arts Center six ways from Sunday.
What happened to the sleazy, sexual, L.A party rock Poison used to be known for? Well, as they showed last night, they still play it proudly. Unlike most bands from the ’80s hairband era, Poison’s sound hasn’t diminished one bit. Critics have always shit on Poison and other bands from that time, and it’s unfair. Who’s selling out amphitheaters every summer? Who’s gaining new fans young and old every day? “Hey Poison, Nintendo called and they want to use ‘Nothin’ But a Good Time’ for their Wii commercial…how’d ya like several million dollars for that deal?” This band is no joke and the naysayers need to realize it. How long does it take exactly to start respecting a hard working band? Pretty damn long I guess. Kiss has been rocking since 1974 and they still get no respect. It doesn’t matter, snobby critics will kneel to the God of Thunder in due time!
The Arts Center was jammed when Poison hit the stage and ripped into their set. They played all their big songs and even The Romantics “What I like About You” from their their latest album of covers called Poison’d. During the show Bret Michaels dedicated “Something To Believe In” to the troops overseas. After the song, he complimented the crowd on how in sync our hand sways were. At least we’re good for something here in Jersey! And SOLOS, we can’t forget the solos! CC’s a shredder there’s no doubt and his solo proved it, but Rikki Rockett needs to be commended for his incredible drum solo. Rikki began at his kit bashing away and then ended doing a New York street corner style beat fest while sitting on a wooden box that he tapped with his hands. The legion of people were totally into it.
A mark of Poison’s enduring popularity is the fact that Poison packed the house while openers Sebastian Bach and Dokken both played to half of the fans. Sebastian Bach is not only a local guy (who lives literally 5 minutes from the venue) but he’s also a Rock Icon in his own right. Alot of rock fans lost respect for him over the years but I like him because he’s original and he doesn’t give a fuck what people think. Serious metal fans from that time would consider Sebastian Bach more of a formidable rock force than Poison will ever be. With classic songs like “Monkey Business,” and “Youth Gone Wild,” Bach has solidified himself in rock history as one of the greatest frontmen of all rock bands. Trust me, you’d want Baz to be the lead singer of your band! Sure Bret Michaels has a pretty face, but Baz has pipes that will clothesline the shit out of any other singer in existence. Even though years have passed, he still has one of the strongest sets of vocal cords ever. If Sebastian Bach was trying out for American Idol other contestants may as well walk home because he’d annihilate them with his powerful, dominant voice.
I waltzed in and got to hear Bach’s cover of “Back in the Saddle” and kickass rendition of Skid Row’s “Here I Am.” Unfortunately, the Jersey crowd sucked for Bach! What an embarrassment, we’re in Jersey! It’s his home town and the lame crowd isn’t into it. Unless the laymen aren’t hearing the huge hits like 18 and life, and Youth Gone Wild they sit there like humps. “C’mon get your fat asses outta those seats!” Bach yelled. This guy is pouring his heart and lungs out for us to be entertained and these uptight Jersey folks are there because they think Bret Michaels is hot…you know, “That guy from Rock of Love.” (What a shame that he’s now more popular for being on a cheesy reality show on VH1 no less.) One of the highlights of Baz’s performance was “Love is a Bitchslap” from hist latest album Angel Down. Oh yeah, and when gave a big FUCK YOU to all the people who were still in the parking lot!!!
Dokken, who was bestowed with the honor of actually opening for Poison, showed that they need some motivation juice. That Red Bull can that Don Dokken was sipping from didn’t prove to be enough to make Dokken play with the gall that Sebastian Bach did. I was looking forward to Rokken with Dokken, and they didn’t blow me away at all. Don Dokken couldn’t hit those high notes especially in Dream Warriors. Overall though, they were decent. I don’t think people realize just how many great songs Dokken has. They played so many of them last night including “In My Dreams,” “Tooth and Nail,” and “Kiss of Death.” Let’s be fair though, Dokken has been rokken for over 30 years! Give them credit that there still making new material. Or should I say Don Dokken, since he’s the only original member. I’ll definitely tell you that it was fun as hell getting to say Bach and Dokken, Bachen with Dokken, Dokken with Bachen…etc. I find I say all kinds of wacky things when I’m loaded!
You can call it a throwback or nostalgia but Poison still rocks, I just wish they’d release some new music because they’re more than capable of scoring a modern hit. If you ever have the opportunity to see a Poison show and you’re having second thoughts…by all means GO! If you were around since the days of the Glam Slam Metal Jam then you know what I’m talking about!
**Be sure to check out my friend and blogger Hell On High Heels who passionately reports on hairbands, rock shows, and reviews music HERE. Join her on her quest to bring back guitar solos!