Poison has come quite away from their first album cover where, as a friend of mine once said, there were four "hot chicks" on the cover. For the past 25 years Poison has played together, faced hardships, nearly died and been a part of several reality television shows and yet they seem to be able to push everything behind them. But can they still perform and be relevant? That's the $64,000 dollar question now isn't it.
Imagine seeing one of the "original" glam bands in concert with one of the bands that helped define "glam" in the 1980's and realizing that both of the bands are polar opposites from their "glam" roots and yet that's what happened on August 6th, 2011. As the stage for Poison was being setup I was remembering the only other time I had seen them in concert, it was at the Dubuque County Fair and from my vantage point in the 4H Building (not kidding) it didn't feel right. I don't know if it was the smell of rabbit poop (once again, I'm not kidding) but the band seemed to have an odd dynamic.
Whatever that dynamic was at the Fair that evening, seemed to be as far away from the current version of Poison as is possible. Poison is celebrating their 25th anniversary, and with it they seem to have found a groove that fits them well. With the light show and the pyrotechnics they blasted the i wireless Center, Poison made a statement, that being we aren't stopping any time soon.
Much to the joy of all of the females in the crowd, Bret Michaels arose from an elevated platform and did exactly what I thought he would do, he began to really whip the crowd into a lather. He strutted, danced, sang performed every song of their set perfectly and really made sure that all of their fans would be entertained. It's interesting to watch as a performer takes over a crowd and still does absolutely everything in his power to not detract from his band mates and he was successful in doing so. After 25 years Michaels still sounds like he did when they first became a band. I was completely impressed by that fact.
Every band seems to have that one person that seems to be larger than life and although every person in Poison qualifies, CC DeVille seems to trump all of them. DeVille has one of the most identifiable sounds of guitar legends and may just belong on that list. Songs like "Look What The Cat Dragged In", "I Won't Forget You" and "Fallen Angel" are quickly identifiable by the guitar of CC DeVille and I'm fairly sure I can say that his talent hasn't regressed, not by a long shot. Its interesting to me that bands of that era seemed to go down in a blaze of glory (Bon Jovi reference, sorry) and usually that blaze is started by the departure of the lead guitar player. Yet DeVille and Poison don't seem to really have ever suffered in that regard and his skill seems to continue to solidify the place of Poison in the annals of rock history.
To succeed, every band must have quality at the bass guitar and drums without it they will sound out of place, out of tune, and frankly not any good and Poison doesn't have that concern. With Bobby Dall (bass) and Rikki Rockett (drums) Posion has two performers that do their jobs very well, their music catalog reflects it too. Watching these two on stage, is similar to watching Michaels and DeVille.
They are animated, demanding your attention and capturing that attention, they really are a show within a show. As an example when the show began a masked man ran out on stage and with spray paint can in hand, scrawled "Quad" on one of the bass drum skins and "City" on the other. The masked man then pulled down the bandana covering his face, revealing Rockett. Rockett took every pair of eyes of the crowd and had them focus on him, that's bloody brilliant.
The energy Poison put into each and every one of the songs they performed were tight, crisp and seemed just as new today as they did in 1986. I suppose a band that has captivated an audience for so long and really become some of the fabric of their genre should do that, and from what I saw they have. Whether they are dismissed for subject matter, being too pretty, being part of that "glam" phenomena or their antics on and off the stage over the past 25 years, you cannot tell me they haven't been important.
Poison must be considered to be a powerhouse still to this day and to not give them props for their success is madness. I have never been a Poison fan, I like some of their songs and I give them all of the respect they deserve as musicians and performers. These guys are still strong, they're still viable, and they are still playing the way they want which is exactly how their fans want them too also.
Would I see Poison again, absolutely! Would I tell others to see them for the first time, absolutely. Do they still have that dynamic I saw at the Dubuque County Fair all those years ago, not by a long shot.
The answer to the $64,000 question is YES, they can still perform and YES they are still relevant. Take the time to see this band, you won't be disappointed.
Next up: Motley Crue