Poison & Dokken @ PNC Bank Arts Center (8/12/2008)

Poison continued the summer shows with an appearance in Holmdel, NJ at the PNC Bank Arts Center. This go round would bring both Dokken and Sebastian Bach along for the ride and we made sure to be a part of the fun in order to bring you the scoop. Scroll past the logo below to be brought to our article to see our thoughts and photos of the bands.

Logo - Poison

Artist: Poison
Venue: PNC Bank Arts Center (Holmdel, NJ)
Opener: Dokken, Sebastian Bach
Date: 8/12/2008
Label: Koch Records

Over the last couple of years I have not been able to say that the summer was drawing to a close until I had attended one of the Poison “shed” concerts that always seem to come around these parts around the same time each year. For me, these shows were only a recent bit of fun to attend as I grew up entrenched in a much darker and a lot heavier type of Metal. Based on this fact I had to say that any love for Poison and how they did things was always kept on the low end of the conversation. Of course as time went on and my musical interests expanded I grew to appreciate just how much fun they were in concert and how catchy and relevant their music was when it came to living ones life in good spirits and with a smile. Poison had done some great summer shows over the last couple of years as well and my first go round was checking them out with Cinderella and the following year with Ratt. This time around would find not only the eighties staple Dokken, but also a performance from Skid Row’s former front man Sebastian Bach. Surely this was going to be a rocking night and Bach would be coming on first. The adventure was also taking place at the PNC Bank Arts Center, where I had just seen the Metal Masters tour the previous week.

Sebastian Bach: While the singer has been leading a very public and busy life, we actually haven’t heard a lot from Sebastian Bach in terms of his releasing original music to his audience until he delivered the rousing album “Angel Down” in late 2007. The album is his first in over five years and it’s a rousing affair that features the lead guitar talents of Metal Mike Chlasiak and drummer Bobby Jarzombek along with a couple of vocal guest appearances from Axl Rose. Bach’s band hit the stage just before 7pm it seemed and it was like a train without brakes since they were throttling through their material. His band consists of Jarzombek (drums), Chlasiak (guitar) and bassist Rob deLuca who folks might remember from being in Spread Eagle as well back in the day. I saw another guitarist onstage with him, but I apologize for not catching his name but despite this the band was performing commendably and kicking some ass by blending his new solo material with Skid Row classics that everyone wanted to hear tonight. He played “You Don’t Understand” from the new album and this one is my favorite and of course he would do “Back in the Saddle”, but Axl would not join him during the show for this rendition of the Aerosmith classic. His set would move far too quickly for my tastes and the band was just so into it that you could almost feel it from your seats as much as see it in their faces. They ended with a couple of the expected Skids staples such as “I Remember You” and an audience participation heavy “Youth Gone Wild”. When Bach left the stage the fans that were inside the venue clearly were wanting more and I am sure that based on the overall quality of the albums material that we will find him headlining some of the area venues soon. Dokken was up next and I have always been a fan of their stuff.

Dokken: For the longest time I have loved how Dokken was a little bit different melodically than the other “Hair Metal” bands of the day and how they focused on delivering great tunes first and a great image later and anyone who has enjoyed their music for awhile can agree that some of these songs are legendary. The band returned after a brief hiatus that followed their initial reunion and while having a roster of different players, has not lost their signature sound. “Lightning Strikes Again” is their latest album and finding them on the Poison tour was great since you knew you were going to hear all of the classics and some of the new coolness that they presented on this album. Of course the older school fans lament the absence of George Lynch, but once you hear John Levin and how incredible he is you will no longer mind. Add to that the rhythm section of Sparks and Brown and we have a good time ready to go. Interestingly enough, when the lights went down I saw neither Mick Brown nor Barry Sparks and remembered that Brown was touring with Nugent and Sparks was off in Asia somewhere and in their place was Chris McCarvill (House Of Lords) and Jeff Martin (Racer X) on bass and drums. Given this case, the whole performance instantly became a Don Dokken solo gig but it was ok since his voice has held up rather well over the years and he is still able to deliver the goods on the bands classics. They opened with “Tooth And Nail” and Levin was instantly shredding like a madman. He is a player to watch and I think that going forward he will be referenced as one of the better players in the Melodic Metal genre overall. Rhythm wise the fill in players were showing as capable dudes and that’s to be expected since they each come from bands that are known from being tight. I did think that it was a little odd but that is because I was blindsided by their appearance here tonight. Don spoke to the crowd often in a smooth and casual voice and while many were excited to have them on the bill the ones who were purely there for Bret and Poison were unresponsive. To me, I felt he kept it too cool and smooth as opposed to really trying to gear them up but to each his own. The singer is the emcee for their respective band and they handle it the best way they see fit. He spoke about the bands new album “Lightning Strikes Again” and since they had a lot of classics that people wanted to hear they would only spend one song of the gig on the new release. I was ok with that as I preferred hearing tunes like “Into The Fire” and the seldom performed “Dream Warriors” when it came down to it. They did the pre-requisite ballad to end all ballads “Alone Again”. During this number all the cell phone displays lit up the place and of course there were a few lighters but not as many as we used to see. The band only played eight songs tonight and these also went rather quick which made their reaching the closer of “In My Dreams” to seem rather fast. I did enjoy them but the Dokken stuff is not always fast-paced and in some sense slowed down the excitement vibe started by Bach. They killed musically, but the slower tempo of their material took just a bit away from their set. I look forward to seeing them again but think that I will wait until “Wild” Mick Brown and Barry Sparks are back.

Poison: After the announcement of the bands arrival to the stage, we got a second introduction from Big John, a person that anyone who ever watched the Bret Michaels dating show “Rock Of Love” that aired on VH1 would recognize as Bret’s “man at arms” for the program. The overhead screens came on and presented to the audience the band members names and ran them essentially as the three musicians and a surprising “and…..Bret Michaels”, which I found to be a bit of a surprise since this had never been done before at the shows I attended. Either way they hit the stage with the expected energy that a headlining band should to their standard opener of “Look What The Cat Dragged In” and while C.C. DeVille and Bobby Dall ran around the stage to the drumming of Rikki, singer Bret Michaels rose from the bottom of the stage on a platform and jumped right into the fray. The singer is generally all smiles during the show and tonight would be no different from my vantage point and after he spent a few moments up on the platform he is right down in front of the audience laughing and pointing to them and slapping any of the hands he manages to reach. The crowd eats this up and they went insane as Michaels and DeVille started the vocal duet on “I Want Action”, another staple from the band’s debut. Bret spoke for a moment to announce the return of “Ride The Wind”, a song that he said has not been in the set for awhile but I remembered it from the previous year. They followed it with the band’s first ballad “I Wont Forget You” and then their cover from the “Poison’d” CD of 2007 “What I Like About You” and it was here that I realized that the set was following suit with what was done at last years show. In some sense this had a valid reason as the band was touring in support of the tour that is featured on their new DVD “Live, Raw & Uncut”, and this film comes from last years touring adventures. The intro for C.C.’s guitar solo was a bit too long for my liking and it also seemed as though the solo itself was extended from the last time. Solos are great with the more technical bands but to be honest with a band like Poison it is all about the songs that everyone wants to hear and stopping that for ten minutes or more seemed to put a bump in the road that the was steaming down.

Bret spoke politely about “Something To Believe In” and makes this a special dedication to those in the services and it was another one of those tunes that found lighters and phone display screens lit up. The Rocket drum solo was not long after this but while he began playing on conventional drums, he soon moved to the center of the stage and continued this solo by using a beat box of some kind. I wasn’t sure what it was exactly but it looked like a plain box from far away and he was hitting it and making all sorts of sounds. I know these guys try to keep it interesting but this was taking forever and reminded me of how little I enjoyed when Tommy Lee turned his own drum solo into an “urban themed” hitting pipes and barrels during the couple of years ago reunion show at MSG. The show moved incredibly fast to its close with “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” and the audience sang along on every note and then a personal favorite of “Fallen Angel” came and from here I knew this show was coming to an end. It was weird because in comparison this was now officially a couple of songs shorter than the previous years and each of these gigs had the same amount of opening bands. “Talk Dirty To Me” was being done before you knew it and this is always the final song before the bands rousing encore of “Nothin’ But A Good Time” and once that was done, the confetti bomb ala KISS exploded over the audiences heads and the show was over. It seemed shorter and quicker than the last time and while I had a great time with the level of Rock and Roll that the band delivered I did have some issues with parts of the show. For starters it was cool of Bret to have Big John come out as the introduction person, but this was done as a second introduction and while the band is popular no one needs two intros before the show begins. He also came out a couple of more times and we didn’t need him to. I am guessing that with all of the VH1 reality programs launching additional shows for the casts of characters we get to meet that it is not long before Mr. Michael’s bodyguard has his own show. Sorry, but I can do without that but perhaps I am in the minority. The other issue was with the cutting of some of the numbers from the set and then still doing two full solos. The audience would much rather be rocking and singing along as opposed to sitting idle or going to get beers while this stuff gets done. I don’t know, but perhaps these solo breaks are just beginning to bore me and yet they should be sacrificed to leave songs in and not the other way around.

The DVD is a fun watch and now having seen the show that supported it as well as the tour that first gave it to us; I felt that I was seeing the same thing as a repeat. Tonight’s show was practically like seeing the DVD performed live and they should have mixed it up a little more to avoid this. Bret’s VH1 show “Rock Of Love” is set for a third season and will follow the same premise as he continues to search for his one true love. Knowing how addictive this stuff can be I am sure that I will be watching even though these kinds of shows leave me scratching my head about their relevance. It was a good time for the most part and I will definitely go to see them next year and hope it also brings out some killer openers like these past shows have.

Dokken Set:
1. Tooth And Nail
2. Into The Fire
3. Standing On The Inside
4. Dream Warriors
5. Kiss Of Death
6. Alone Again
7. Breaking The Chains
8. In My Dreams

Poison Set:
1. Look What The Cat Dragged In
2. I Want Action
3. Ride The Wind
4. I Wont Forget You
5. What I Like About You
6. CC DeVille Guitar Solo
7. Something To Believe In
8. Your Mama Don’t Dance
9. Rikki Rocket Drum Solo
10. Unskinny Bop
11. Every Rose Has It’s Thorn
12. Fallen Angel
13. Talk Dirty To Me
14. Nothin’ But A Good Time

Now for some of the side images from the night. Poison would be introduced by long time band friend and bodyguard “Big John”, and since the best place to share photos of him is right here we have opted to do so.  Enjoy.

Big John shows Eddie Trunk some respect

Eddie Trunk was onstage first and after he said his piece, Big John came out and gave him a big ole hug.

Big John Speaks

If you watched any of Bret Michaels’ reality programs you most likely saw Big John as a part of the dynamic that was going on.  One had to wonder if the bodyguard would get a show of his own after that.

Ladies & Gentlemen – POISON!!!!!

Official Website: http://www.poisonweb.com
Official Website: http://www.dokken.net
Official Website: http://www.sebastianbach.com

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