June 25, 2018 Poison Nothin’ But A Good Time at Jones Beach, NY 6-21-18 w/ Cheap Trick & Pop Evil
Growing up, we fondly look forward to but a few extra special days every year that, even as adults, put a smile on our face and leave us feeling warm inside; birthdays, Christmas morning, and the last day of school bring a joy to us not easily explained in words. Checking off one more on the calendar, we cannot forget the one and only first day of summer: a day which marks the beginning to the season of barbecues, vacations, swimming pool mania, and the best outdoor concert experiences of the year. Speaking of concerts, kicking-off the official start to the summer of 2018 on Long Island, New York, 1980’s Sunset Strip icons Poison rode into town on the Nothin’ But A Good Time Tour, stopping by the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater on Thursday, June 21, 2018.
Since reuniting the original line-up back in 1999, Poison – Bret Michaels (vocals), C. C. Deville (guitar), Bobby Dall (bass), and Rikki Rockett (drums) – have toured nearly every summer. As headliners, Poison always bring several Arena Rock friends along for the ride – whether it be the Glam Slam Metal Jam Tours supported by Warrant and Quiet Riot in 2001, Cinderella and Winger in 2002, or a number of awesome co-headlining tours with Motley Crue, Kiss, and Def Leppard – Poison has crafted a tradition of bringing a huge party to cities across America. This go around, Poison is touring with direct support from the legendary Cheap Trick and Modern Rock clique Pop Evil. A top billing, the three bands have thrilled audiences since the tour began on May 18, 2018, in Irvine, California.
A hot summer day, getting pumped for the show, lively fans tailgated at the Jones Beach Theater parking lot, blasting ’80s Rock while indulging in food, drink, and conversation. As the evening set in, doors opened at 6 PM to let fans get settled in before the first band performed. At 7 PM, Michigan’s own Pop Evil – Leigh Kakaty (vocals), Dave Grahs (rhythm guitar), Matt DiRito (bass), Nick Fuelling (lead guitar), and Hayley Cramer (drums) – took the stage to open the show and carve up a gathering Rock-n-Roll crowd.
Before getting into the set, for the less astute fan of current Hard Rock, Pop Evil has been highly-regarded in the world of Hard Rock/Alternative Metal for the better part of the last ten years. Pop Evil musters a wide-ranging sound similar to Rage Against The Machine, Imagine Dragons, and Shinedown. Following the release of the 2008 debut album, Lipstick on the Mirror, Pop Evil seem to climb higher on the ladder of success with each new album. In fact, every Pop Evil album since has charted in the top ten, including their latest offering, released back in February, Pop Evil. The eponymous LP took off, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard U.S. Top Hard Rock Albums chart. This past winter, Pop Evil’s 2018 headlining tour packed houses, and now the time has come to heat things up as the band spends the first half of the summer opening for Poison and Cheap Trick.
At first strike, Pop Evil launched their set with the bombastic “Boss’s Daughter” followed by the climatic “Ex Machina.” Marching in, Pop Evil rocked on via “Deal With The Devil,” felt anthemic on “Be Legendary,” and inspired the crowd-driving “100 In A 55.” Defiant, Pop Evil declared a mission to “Take It All” as “Footsteps” ushered in the closing numbers. A charming moment, Kakaty brought two little girls on stage to live their own dreams and help sing back-up on the single “Waking Lions.” In one last, spirited song, Kakaty dove into the “Trenches,” which he performed in the crowd, and, as the band finished playing, Kakaty ended the song with a splash by jumping into the water of Zachs Bay. Worth showing up early, get to know the music of Pop Evil!
Providing direct support, Cheap Trick was ready to go as the amphitheater began to fill up and the blissful crowd ready to sing along. Leading Cheap Trick since debuting in 1977, Robin Zander (vocals/rhythm guitar) and Rick Nielsen (lead guitar) are joined by Rick’s son, Daxx Nielsen (drums), and Tom Petersson (bass). Hit makers, Cheap Trick own two of the biggest singles ever in Rock (“I Want You To Want Me” and “Surrender”).
Regarded as one of the greatest live albums of all-time, Cheap Trick gained massive mainstream success in the United States in 1978 thanks to the live album, Cheap Trick at Budokan; a measuring stick for future Rock bands. Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, Cheap Trick has toured the universe while remaining one of the most timeless bands in music. On this night, Cheap Trick were welcomed with a huge ovation as the band started off with “Hello There,” “You Got It Going On,” and “California Man.” Fun to watch, Rick’s over-the-top, five neck guitar made a delightful appearance as the clever guitarist performed.
Moving along, Cheap Trick kept the crowd overjoyed with “If You Want My Love,” “Long Time Coming,” and a cover of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That A Shame.” A fitting tune, “The Summer Looks Good On You” preceded another cover, Velvet Underground’s “I’m Waiting for the Man.” An unexpected treat, Cheap Trick broke out their 1980s power ballad, “The Flame,” which the crowd simply ate up. A story about a boy and a girl, “I Want You To Want Me” was everything you could ask for to mark the arrival of the “Dream Police.” Full of life, for “Surrender,” Cheap Trick were joined on stage by Matt DiRito and Hayley Cramer of Pop Evil before closing via “Goodnight Now.” Showing no signs of aging, Cheap Trick gifted an entertaining performance which left the crowd fired up for the main attraction.
A wild ride, the moments leading up to a Poison set saw a hyped crowd, now packing the theater, cheering and screaming for the “Glam Slam Kings of Noise” to take the stage. As AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell” began to play, the atmosphere became that much more electric as die-hard Poison fans know the tune is always the final track to play before we get some Poison. In the blink of an eye, boom! the lights go out, and following a nostalgic video piece, Rikki, Bobby, and C.C. appeared from out of the shadows to an electric ovation from the Jones Beach Theater.
A beaming smile on his face, once the captivating Bret Michaels made his grandiose entrance, the band kicked into “Look What The Cat Dragged In,” and it was on! Smoke and lasers lit up the place as fans raised fists in the air while screaming to the heavens. Grateful, if there is one thing you can count on about Poison, they never forget the fans. At each and every performance, Bret always makes it a point to say thanks and show Poison’s gratitude to the fans who, through good times and bad, have never ceased to support the Glam Metal heroes over the last 32 years.
After expressing love for playing to a rowdy New York crowd, Bret posed one question, “Do You Want Action?” and of course the crowd did, as Poison charged into the assertive “I Want Action.” Happy to be rockin’ once again at Jones Beach, Bret spoke passionately about the peace and adventure of riding his motorcycle to intro, off 1990’s mega-platinum selling LP, Flesh & Blood, the ever so pleasing “Ride The Wind.” Feeding the greatest hits, Poison whipped up a frenzy thanks to, arguably the one of the band’s top two songs, the ultimate ’80s sing-a-long of “Talk Dirty To Me.”
Always in support of the troops, Poison invited members of the armed forces on stage for a tribute performance. To begin, Bret voiced about leaving politics aside and thanked the men and women of the U.S. military for their service, as Poison dedicated the faithful “Something to Believe In” to those who sacrifice their lives every day for our freedom. Dabbling on a little harmonica, Bret opened the catchy “Your Mama Don’t Dance” before the animated C.C. took center stage for an amusing guitar solo.
Taking a trip back in time, Poison celebrated the 30th anniversary of the sophomore album, 1988’s Open Up And Say …Ahh!, by wowing the audience via the hypnotizing tale of “Fallen Angel.” Next, Poison performed the “Unskinny Bop,” Rikki and Bobby were featured in a drum/bass solo, and, one of the greatest power ballads to ever grace music, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” garnered some of the loudest cheers of the night.
An anthem for the working class, Bret shouted Poison was not leaving until we had “Nothin’ But A Good Time.” Knowing all the words, the resonant Jones Beach crowd turned it up, singing-along to every word, all while jumping up and down in a raving climax. As Poison stepped off stage, there was a feeling an encore was upon the theater. To a raucous standing ovation, the bad boys of Poison returned on stage, this time bringing along Pop Evil’s Leigh Kakaty and Matt DiRito for the grand finale, a classic Poison rendition of KISS’ “Rock and Roll All Night,” bringing down the house once more.
As another Poison show is in the books for Jones Beach, overwhelmed by massive cheers, Bret wished the crowd a great summer as the band waved good-bye until next time. Not worried about having work in the morning, the New York chapter of Poison’s fan base left the venue flying high after an exhilarating show.
As of late, some fans have given Poison a negative critique towards the shortened length of the show and the setlist, which includes three solos and two covers, one which Poison plays to close the show. Luckily, we live in an age where a band’s setlist can be found right at our fingertips, on the internet, so fans have a chance to see for themselves before buying a ticket.
For the rabid fans in attendance, Poison’s Nothin’ But A Good Time Tour serves up the biggest party of the summer, full of uncontrolled energy, passion for music, and free spirit. One of the best frontmen in Rock, Bret Michaels’ engaging vivacity makes a crowd go nuts while Rikki, Bobby, and C.C. are magical. Poison has always delivered one of the most fun shows in Rock and the band continues to prove they shall never lose the knack for rocking the concert stage. Don’t be left out! The Nothin’ But A Good Time Tour runs through July 1st and it is well-worth the price of admission for nostalgic fans of ’80s Rock.
Photo credit: Andrew Fiero photography