Bret Michaels, vocalist for Glam Metal rockers Poison, rocked the fabulous Club Regent Theatre with the Bret Michaels Band. It was a full house of enthusiastic metal heads who sang along, clapped and did the wave when prompted.
Michaels grew up in Pennsylvania where the seeds of Poison were planted in 1979 when he and childhood friend, drummer Rikki Rocket, together with guitarist Matt Smith and drummer Bobby Dal, played in a band around town.
The band, called Paris at the time, made the move to LA in 1984, changed their name to Poison, replaced guitarist with C.C. Deville and released their debut album in 1986, Look What the Cat Dragged In.
Many successful albums followed into the mid 90’s with the band selling 45 million albums. Bret Michaels enjoyed success as a solo artist over the years as well.
Some of the magic and excitement of those albums was recaptured in the theatre setting, with a pit on the floor for the more enthusiastic fans.
The Guns and Roses tune ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ was the intro music that played as the band came on the stage. And the atmosphere was wild as a jungle as soon as Mr. Michaels asked everyone, “Are you ready to rock’n’roll?”, launching into the first tune, ‘Talk Dirty to Me.’ Next up was the first song Michaels wrote for Poison, ‘Look What the Cat Dragged In.’
The Bret Michaels Band had the fans in the palm of their hand by this point and the singer said that they had him “jacked up.”
The band then played ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ which the singer said was the “first song I learned to play on the guitar at diabetic youth camp.” He pulled out his harmonica and they did another cover, Loggins and Messina‘s ‘Your Mama Don’t Dance.’
‘Something to Believe In’ and ‘Unskinny Bop’ with it’s very catchy guitar riffs played by Pete Evick were next.
Then, drummer Mike Bailey took the spotlight with a drum solo before the band did a Sublime cover ‘What You Got’ which was, well, sublime.
Filling out the band were Rob Wylde on keyboards and Bart Harris on bass, who payed tribute to Red Hot Chili Peppers bass player Flea more than once.
Bret Michaels pulled out his fiery 12 string for the power ballad section of the show for a sing-along to ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn.’ At the singer’s request, people waved their cell phones in the air. It seems like the cell phone light has replaced the old tradition of waving your lighter in the air like people used to do in the ’80s.
Last song before the encore was announced as “my favourite Poison song,” ‘Fallen’.
Mr. Michaels’ 8-year-old daughter, Jorga, joined the band on stage and handed out roses to fans in front of the stage. She also joined her father in a synchronized rock’n’n’roll jump in the air.
When the band came back on stage, each member showed off their talents and teased us with riffs from ‘Money,’ ‘Back in Black’ and ‘Crazy Train’ among other crowd favourites.
They finished off the evening with ‘Nothin’ But A Good Time,’ and you know what? That’s what everybody here seemed to be doing, having nothin’ BUT a good time.
Earlier in the show, Michaels thanked the audience for “allowing me to do what I do because music in this life has gotten me through some of the toughest times in my life.”
And tough times he has had in his life. At 6 years of age he was hospitalized for three weeks and was diagnosed with type one diabetes, requiring him to take five shots of insulin a day.
In 2010, he was rushed to the hospital and had an appendectomy. Less than two weeks later, he suffered a brain hemmorhage. A few weeks after that, he had a stroke.
In late October, he had kidney surgery and was hospitalized six times in two weeks, forcing him to cancel his fundraising show for the Chicago Humane Society. He actually tried to still do the show against doctors orders but cancelled at the last minute.
Brett Michaels is a very grateful and generous person. He does meet and greets before and after his shows and donates the money to diabetes, cancer and other organizations in the cities that he plays in. He mentioned that last time he played here he was able to send a group of kids to Diabetes Camp.
At the end of the show the straw cowboy hat he was wearing was auctioned off and the bids quickly rose to $500. I talked with the lucky bidder, Kim Jones (39), after the show as her and daughter Kayla (19) waited to go backstage to meet the band. It was one of their first rock’n’roll outings together and a very memorable one at that.
Opening act was local musician Marc LaBossiere who played an acoustic set of originals as well as some Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams covers.
All photos by Doug Kretchmer
Talk Dirty to Me
Look What the Cat Dragged In
Sweet Home Alabama
(Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
Your Mama Don’t Dance
(Loggins & Messina cover)
Something to Believe In
What I Got
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Nothin’ but a Good Time