I’ll admit it, I did not miss a single episode of “Celebrity Apprentice” last season, and it was the only season of the show I have ever watched. When I heard that I had the opportunity the see Bret Michaels on tour in support of his latest CD “Custom Built,” I was more interested in being close to the TV star I had grown to know and love, than the singer whose career I had not paid much attention to when he was Poison’s frontman.
Michaels has managed to do what many of his contemporaries from the “hair band” era failed to do, he has managed to reinvent himself and remain relevant. Witnessing his performance in front of a small crowd of around 800 in Buffalo, one comes to realize that Michaels may have accomplished this feat because of his sheer love of performing and his genuine appreciation of his adoring fans.
As soon as Michaels hit the stage, the mostly female crowd pushed towards the small stage and was almost right on top of the iconic singer. Rather than distance himself from the crowd, he let them swallow him up, touching as many of them as possible while grinning from ear to ear.
The defining moment in the evening came when two girls were getting into a scuffle in front of the stage and Michaels calmed the women down and made sure they were not thrown out of the venue. He told the crowd, “we don’t need to throw anybody out,” right before launching into “Unskinny Bop.”
Musically, I was surprised at how many Poison songs I had forgotten, including “Talk Dirty to Me,” “Unskinny Bop” and “Nothing But a Good Time.” All of them were played well by Michaels’ band, which may lack the big hair, but they still have great chops. They performed two covers as well, Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” and Sublime’s “What I Got.” Both were done well but “Alabama” was the crowd pleaser. I had the impression that the crowd wasn’t familiar with “What I Got.”
As if it was not strange enough seeing Bret Michaels in a small club, the show lasted just a little over an hour and yet I did not hear anybody complain about it. Maybe the crowd was happy just being able to spend an intimate evening with a cultural icon.
Whatever the case, I left the show with a new found appreciation for Michaels as a performer and for his music. Sure, the show was too short, but Michaels managed to do in around an hour what some bands never do, establish a special connection with his fans.
Talk Dirty to Me
Look What the Cat Dragged In
Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
Got That Far
Something to Believe In
What I Got (Sublime cover)
Every Rose Has it’s Thorn
Nothing but a Good Time
Photos by Gus Griesinger
We would like to thank Dana Tycher from Krupp Communications and Janna Elias from Michaels Entertainment Group for allowing BackstageAxxess to cover the show. We also would like to thank the Club Paradise staff and especially Christy Clancy for making the staff at BackstageAxxess feel right at home!