Full disclosure: I almost skipped Poison way back in 2011 when they were touring with Motley Crue and New York Dolls, who I did skip because fuck David Johansen, but I ultimately decided to take an earlier train (quiet you, this was my pre-driving days) to catch one of the most iconic glam bands of a decade before Motley went on. Since that day, I’ve wanted to see Poison again and I finally got my chance on Thursday night with the best seat in the house – the photo pit – at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater.
Pop Evil opened the show, and what a weird fuckin’ pairing that is with a band like Pop Evil opening a show headlined by a glam rock band and sandwiching Cheap Trick in between the two. We won’t be covering Cheap Trick, though, after I refused to sign their release, so we’ll keep this to the other two bands and we’ll start by talking about how amazing Pop Evil was after waiting three years to shoot them. Pop Evil got 9 songs, slightly longer than most openers at Jones Beach, and the made the most of it with tunes including Boss’s Daughter, Ex Machina, 100 in a 55, Footsteps and Trenches, during which singer Leigh Kakaty walked through the venue while performing and ended the set by taking a bath in the bay. I guess nobody told him that same bay was closed a year ago due to astronomical levels of bacteria from the sewage treatment pipes at the venue?
Pop Evil was 100% worth the three years I’ve been waiting to cover them. I even got what I’m going to go ahead and call the shot of the night, with Kakaty screaming into the mic right in my face. It’s a shame most people like to skip the openers at Jones Beach and opt instead for tailgating (read: day drinking) in the parking lot because Pop Evil deserved something a lot more than a mostly-empty venue to play in front of. Those jerks out in the lot missed out on a stellar performance and should be kicking themselves.
After sitting in my air conditioned car during Cheap Trick’s set, it was time to mosey on inside and get ready for the main attraction in Bret Michaels, CC Deville, Rikki Rockett and Bobby Dall – better known as the greatest glam rock band in the world, Poison, who played 14 tunes if you count three solos and two covers – really, Poison doesn’t have one or two more songs they could have played to avoid covering KISS? I say that not because it wasn’t fun, but because Gene Simmons is a dick and will probably try to sue Bret Michaels the same way he tried to trademark the iconic metal horns pioneered by the late, great Ronnie James Dio.
But I digress. Anyway, Poison kicked things off with Look What the Cat Dragged In (duh) before going into hits such as I Want Action, Talk Dirty to Me and Something to Believe In Then, in true Poison tradition, they covered the Loggins & Messina hit Your Mama Don’t Dance. I think after 25 years, that song should just belong to Poison since their version is much more popular than the original, no disrespect to Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina – I don’t want to find myself on the highway to the danger zone, after all – but Poison made that song what it is.
From there, it was onto a guitar solo where CC proceeded to shred for a handful of minutes before the band went into Fallen Angel, still one of my favorite songs by any band, and then Rikki Rockett and Bobby Dall got their respective solos before what is arguably – or not so arguably – the greatest glam ballad of the 80’s, Every Rose Has Its Thorn and, obviously, Nothin’ But a Good Time. That should have been it, really, when you’re playing a tour literally titled after the song, but noooooooooo, Michaels & Co had to go and get themselves sued by Gene Simmons for breathing the air he wants to trademark….err, I mean to say, Poison played a cover of the KISS hit Rock and Roll All Nite, with a little help from Pop Evil’s Leigh Kakaty and Matt DiRito, who will also probably get sued. I’m kidding. Maybe.
That was how the night ended as the masses filed out into “The Fog” – seriously, I didn’t realize the night had turned from beautiful to zero-visibility because I was too busy watching Poison kick ass – and called it a very happy night as the guys on stage delivered on their promise to not leave until we’ve all had Nothin’ But a Good time. Photo gallery below.