Bret Michaels is a machine! The Poison frontman’s recent show at the Fox Performing Arts Center in downtown Riverside could only be described as high-energy, high-amplitude and just plain fun!
The first thing that I noticed as I walked into the venue was the diverse crowd of fans. There were children no older than 10 plus folks from the grayer, more grizzled side of the age scale—some using wheelchairs. Of course, there were the ladies with their ’80s hair all “poofed” up and some die-hard mullet-sporting guys. This I expected. The real surprise was the gentlemen in suits with their dates in evening gowns. What a generation/social class cross-section! Maybe all we need is a little ’80s hair metal band to bring us together!
As far as the venue itself . . . incredible! It provided one of the most intimate concert experiences I’ve ever experienced. I don’t believe there is a bad seat in the house! The Fox defines class. The staff was extremely helpful and friendly. The seating and sound stage were superb. Although, I will say that I didn’t spend much time in my seat; nor did the rest of the crowd.
The opening act was good. Willie Barcena’s comedy act had me and the rest of the room in stitches. That is, with the exception of the aforementioned children in the crowd. I hope their parents realized the act was a little too rated R and took them out for a refreshment and/or potty break. Otherwise Barcena was brilliant; a perfect warm up for a night of head-banging and reminiscing.
Afterward, when the lights went out, everyone came alive and every soul in the building rose to their feet. The band took the stage and introduced the wound-up Michaels. As they began to play and he began to belt out the lyrics of “Look What The Cat Dragged In,” “Unskinny Bop” and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” I couldn’t help but grin. It took me back to 1988 and my two best friends with our Sony Walkmans, skateboards and carefree attitudes. The show included many Poison hits, solo songs, classic covers and an encore performance of “Nothin‘ But A Good Time.”
Michaels’ voice sounds the same today as it did all those many years ago. I would venture to say he is even more driven, more energetic and more focused now than he ever was then. For someone whose health problems sparked a media frenzy and delayed the finale of Celebrity Apprentice, he didn’t miss a beat! The entire show was upbeat and fast-paced. It was a workout for me to just watch Michaels dance, jump and orchestrate the crowd. The band members were no slouches, either. Drum and guitar solos were still ringing in my ears as I was writing this.
It’s obvious how this man has achieved success. It may have all started with the glam rock ’80s fad, but Michaels’ fame spans far beyond his musical accomplishments. His hard work and his diverse fan base’s ability to identify with him have secured his superstardom for a long time to come.