It’s a balmy Saturday evening as I pull my car into the parking lot at Blossom Music Center. As I begin to roll up my window, I look out and notice hordes of men wearing wigs, makeup, glitter and even feather boas. No, I’m not here to see Cher or Cindy Lauper. For a minute I got worried and questioned if I was even at the right concert. Sure enough, these freaks had in fact come out to see Poison and RATT.
“Freaks” might be a little harsh of a term; then again, perhaps it’s an understatement. Not just one or two guys with wigs, but thirty or forty! I guess they were trying to relive their glory days, way back when they actually had hair. After all, they don’t call it hair metal for nothing! After adjusting to the throngs of men having mid-life crises, I found my way to my seat just as the show started. Vains Of Jenna replaced White Lion as the openers after former members of the band threatened lawsuit over the use of the moniker. For the first 20 minutes, I wondered how VOJ got the gig. They sounded absolutely terrible. Their sound was muffled, and the vocals were all but mute. Mercifully, after a few songs, they turned the singers’ mic up and the band started to sound rather decent. It’s amazing what kind of impact the sound guy can have on a band. Hailing from Sweden, Vains Of Jenna are the new age of sleaze metal, complete with all the cheesy lyrics and over the top antics. Catch these guys in a smaller venue and it just might be worth your money. The 19,000+ capacity Blossom was just too big of a stage for these folks.
After draping the stage in white and silver, a reunited RATT hit the stage. There was a real palpable air of celebration as Stephen Pearcy and his original bandmates played live together for the first time in several years. They ripped through all their classics without missing a beat. Diminutive but vocally powerful, Pearcy strutted boastfully across the stage. The crowd really seemed to enjoy the band reunited, and practically everyone was on their feet – fists pumping wildly in the air. Those who still had hair to tease did not disappoint. Hair towered more than a foot in the air throughout the venue, including on stage. ‘RATT-n-Roll’ is definitely alive and kicking with no signs of hanging up their guitars any time soon.
I barely had enough time to fight my way through the stonewashed jeans and chug a $10 beer before Poison hit the stage. I suffered through songs from the groups’ recent all-covers album, ‘POISON’D,’ and intermittent solo stuff from guitarist CC DeVille and frontman Bret Michaels. Finally, we were treated to a string of 80’s classics. They steamrolled through favorites including “Fallen Angel” and “Talk Dirty to Me,” with well deserved bravado. Michaels and company looked trim and nip/tucked to perfection, with bassist Bobby Dall sporting a new, shorter do. Rikki Rockett treated the crowd to smokin’ drum solos during the night and led the band into a rockin’ version of “Look What The Cat Dragged In.” Poison’s staple, “Every Rose Has its Thorn” left not a dry eye in the house. Lighters rose all over the pavilion. Poison left the stage in a flash of glitter, with nothing left to prove.
Say what you want about 80’s hair bands. Call them cheesy, call them ridiculous, or even call them dead. But don’t deny for a second that you don’t secretly enjoy it, even if just a little bit. We all know that when “Look What The Cat Dragged In” comes on the radio when you’re cruising in your car that you start to drum on your steering wheel. Every time you hear “Every Rose Has its Thorn,” you sing along with Bret. Poison and RATT demonstrated why this genre was so popular two decades ago, and brought out well over 10,000 loyal and closet fans alike that still enjoy hearing this brand of music live.
With arena rock long gone out of style, it’s refreshing to see that their fans are still around and as devoted as ever. No matter how many times they sound the death toll for glam rock, it will always prove its resilience and come back stronger than ever, even if it has to wear a wig.