Poison & Cinderella @ PNC Bank Arts Center (8/6/2006)

Logo - Poison

Artist: Poison
Venue: PNC Bank Arts Center (Holmdel, NJ)
Opener: Cinderella, Ever After
Date: 8/6/2006
Label: Capitol Records

After almost two weeks of stifling heat in the immediate areas of New York & New Jersey there seemed to be a slight break coming until folks hit the PNC Bank Arts Center where they would quickly find out that it was going to get hotter than they had ever imagined. Yes, in celebration of their 20th Year as a band the one and only Poison would arrive and with special guest openers Cinderella. Poison had recently released a number of products on the public with the first being a career spanning best of entitled “20 Years Of Rock”. In addition, their first three albums in the back catalog received the remastering treatment while a DVD of a later performance finally saw the light of day. All of these things put together were a great example of how Poison did things and provided their fans with memorable music that has withstood the years. Kicking off the night would be the band Endeverafter who I did not manage to see and since I needed to be prepared to take Cinderella shots on top of the Poison ones I did not mind this at all. I heard they were pretty good from some folks who did check them out.

Cinderella hit the stage right on time and as you looked around the venue you were able to see that most people were already inside the place; this is always a good sight. The band would also be celebrating their 20th year and find themselves with the original lineup as well. Tom Kiefer, Jeff LaBar, Eric Brittingham and Fred Coury always managed to have an effective mix of Blues-based Rock & Roll that made the band a lot different from some of the Hair Rock that was happening around the same time they arrived. Yes, Cinderella had big hair as well but the bottom line is that their music was a lot better than some of the bands that they were often partnered with. The latest release for the group would be the Anthology release entitled “Gold” which comes courtesy of Universal Music. The album contains a wide variety of tracks spanning the bands career and includes all of their hits, it also features some unreleased live material that is sure to please the fans. The performance was entertaining and the band was tight and professional, I always had found them to be a great live act, and they seem just a bit heavier in this setting than you would find them on album. Kiefer first appeared in giant bug-eyed sunglasses which made for some interesting photos as he sang his heart out on songs like “Push, Push” and “Somebody Save Me”. He didn’t do a lot of talking and I was not surprised since the best course of action would be to get as many songs out to the fans as possible. I prefer it like that with an opening band and especially one who has as many good rocking numbers as Cinderella does. There was a great use of lighting for their set and behind them a huge Cinderella logo was present. The logo also worked very well with the lights and added different levels of atmosphere to the gig. Glancing quickly to the crowd around me it seemed like everyone was getting into the show, and dancing around. The audience was a slightly older crowd and yes many of them brought their kids which is to be expected of a group whose audience goes back as far as the band members themselves do. Many remember that Cinderella was an MTV Staple back in the original heyday and so many of the songs performed tonight would be ones that are easily memorable. Fan favorites like “Gypsy Road” and “Coming Home” were incredible numbers and showed the band as great musicians and entertainers. Kiefer and company had the addition of a keyboardist whose name I failed to catch but he really brought an extra fullness to the music. Tom made sure to handle guitar a lot and showed off a beautiful double-neck later in the performance and even showcased a little saxophone during “Shelter Me”. As the end drew near for their set, Tom sat behind a piano and did one of their most moving numbers, “Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone” which was quickly followed by their anthem “Shake Me”. By this point the entire venue was on its feet and singing along, clearly Cinderella’s presence on this tour added to the excitement level. They did not disappoint at all when I looked back on it and judging by the smiles I saw around me this was not only my perception.

The main event started shortly after, which to me is always a welcome thing and the energy level was high with a tangible electricity in the air as Poison hit the stage. The group would downplay the glamour and glitz of their past but focused on the Rock and Roll that they are known for. Having been a fan in the casual sense at most I was happy to find this band to be a group of capable players. Over the years, and now twenty years later they are still deservedly on a headlining stage while most of their detractors have faded into obscurity. The band hit the stage with the kind of enthusiasm that more bands should take notice of when they play their own shows. They should be commended for giving their all with a highly energetic show. There will be no shoe gazing from Poison as all the members were excellent showmen, running around the stage to the screams of the excited crowd. All the while flames and lasers lit up the stage as “Look What The Cat Dragged In”, their opening number and title of their first album was done. A good amount of the songs from the release would be part of the set tonight including a personal favorite of “Cry Tough”. I have always found this to be one of the bands better numbers and I am glad to see that they included it on both the hits release as well as the touring set. As I took notice of the songs being performed it was clear that not only were most of them from the Best Of, but almost every song was featured on MTV when the group ruled the station. There are not many bands who can claim that honor and it certainly helped to make Poison a household name for many years. It was great to also find the complete original lineup present for this tour, and quite honestly they have always played but, with different guitarists at points (Ritchie Kotzen, Blues Saraceno). CC DeVille has had some well-publicized issues but finally seems to be back from them and playing better than ever. He is a really good guitarist and tonight he would prove that to any who might not agree. While Bret Michaels handled a good 98% of the singing, CC tossed his hat into the mix with the humorous number “I Hate Every Bone In Your Body But Mine”. Michaels would be more talkative than Kiefer was during the Cinderella set, but it was primarily directed to the fans as appreciation for the many years of support and dedication to them as a band and how he found it amazing day after day. Poignant ballads like “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” and “Something To Believe In” really hit home for many and found the audience aglow with cell phones (apparently the devices have replaced lighters in this setting now). “Ride The Wind” would find a place in performance tonight and Bret commented on how this particular song had not been performed in some time and he was happy to bring it back to us, since this is also a great number it was a welcome addition. Rikki Rocket would show his stuff with a kick ass drum solo on his customized “Chop Shop” drums, and it was a really cool looking kit that sounded great as well. Through the whole show bassist Bobby Dall held it together like glue and was running about almost as much as CC was. Other personal favorites like “Fallen Angel” and the KISS-esque “Nothin’ But A Good Time” would be additional highlights for me and of course these other songs that while they are popular with many I simply dread them. I am speaking of both “Unskinny Bop” and “Your Mama Don’t Dance”. Bret does some tasty harp work during the latter and of course the mass radio play of “Bop” had the whole place jumping while it was played. The closing number would be the expected “Talk Dirty To Me”, and all the stage effects were pulled out for this song. Poison ended the night with everyone around them completely energized but exhausted.

There is little else to other than, if you attended, you enjoyed yourself and it was “Nothin’ but a Good Time”. It’s as simple as that.

Cinderella Set List:
1. Bad Seamstress Blues/Fallin’ Apart At The Seams
2. Push, Push
3. Somebody Save Me
4. Night Songs
5. Hot ‘N Bothered
6. The Last Train
7. Coming Home
8. Shelter Me
9. Nobody’s Fool
10. Gypsy Road
11. Don’t Know What You Got Till It’s Gone
12. Shake Me

Poison Set List:
1. Look What The Cat Dragged In
2. I Want Action
3. We’re An American Band
4. I Won’t Forget You
5. Ride The Wind
6. CC Guitar Solo
7. I Hate Every Bone In Your Body But Mine
8. Cry Tough
9. Something To Believe In
10. You’re Mama Don’t Dance
11. Fallen Angel
12. Rikki Rocket Drum Solo
13. Every Rose Has It’s Thorn
14. Unskinny Bop
15. Nothin’ But A Good Time
16. Talk Dirty To Me

Official Web site: www.poisonweb.com
Official Web site: www.cinderella.net

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