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Concert Review: Poison (7/07/11)

Poison

Opener: Top of the Orange

7/07/11

The Amphitheater at The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama

Bret Michaels just doesn’t stop. It seems like he’s constantly touring. When Poison isn’t touring, he’s doing solo shows and even when Poison is on the road, he finds time to schedule solo shows! Poison is in the middle of a big summer tour with Motley Crue and the New York Dolls but the band has scheduled a number of headlining shows as well on off days. Warrant is opening for them on a number of those shows but unfortunately were not present for this Orange Beach concert.

Top of the Orange

I was hoping there would be someone opening the show but it wasn’t until a week before the show that The Wharf’s Facebook page announced that Mobile, Alabama-based band Top of the Orange would be curtain jerking. I checked a few of their songs out online and they seemed like a decent current-sounding hard rock band with songs that fit in with the rest of whatever rock radio decides to play these days.

Apparently they’ve been making quite a name of themselves in the Gulf Coast area and according to their website they’ve opened for 3 Doors Down, Staind, Shinedown, Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin and Theory of a Dead Man among others… Now you can add Poison to that list!

While I didn’t expect Poison to do a 2 hour to 2 1/2 hour set, I certainly didn’t expect Top of the Orange to play so long either. I thought 4 or 5 songs and then it’d be time for Poison but The Orange had played a healthy set. While Top of the Orange won’t be drawing any similarities to a band like Poison and their sound owes more to the ’90s rock scene and bands like Theory of a Deadman and Nickelback that’s what made the experience cool — you get to see a young up ‘n’ coming playing a totally different style than the veteran headliners. Variety is the spice of life!

I know I’m going to completely screw up the set list, but here’s what seems familiar (though I think I’m leaving off a song or two and I know the order isn’t right):

Set list
“Let Me In”
“Nowhere”
“Truth Be told”
“Cutting Me Off”
“Immigrant Song” (Led Zeppelin cover)
“Who Turned Off the Sun”
“Sex Kitten”
“Why Can’t”

Poison

Poison is out on the road this summer with a tour they’re calling “Glam-A-Geddon 25” in honor of the band’s 1986 Look What the Cat Dragged In debut. Odd then that some of the band would wear Open Up and Say… Ahh! t-shirts and that album cover was a part of the stage setup. Could it be they are embarrassed by their debut album’s super glammy cover?

I’d seen Poison once before but it was a good show. Much like Def Leppard, I know they don’t change up the set list much from year to year but these guys are still a fun band and certainly the premier glam metal band and are proud of that fact so to me it was worth taking the time and money to see them again.

As I said, there weren’t too many surprises with the set list. They band went through all their signature songs but actually sounded better than when I saw in 2009 (although I think it was more of a technical issue that day). Compared to when I first saw them, they’ve dropped “Something To Believe In”, which has been played on some of the Motley shows, but added “I Want Action” (which I thought was awesome) and “We’re An American Band”.

Poison started off the show in a cool way, or maybe it was just coincidental — the lights went out, the stage started to glow and then AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” started to play and it played in its entirety as Poison’s skull backdrop was raised on the stage. Seemed like part of the show to me. Both finished about the same time and then a spotlight hits the drum kit and a guy walks out in a jacket, hat and bandanna covering his face and spray paints “Orange” on one kick drum and “Beach” on the other. He takes off the jacket and bandanna and it’s revealed to be none other than Rikki Rockett!

From there the band was on fire — literally! You had green flames, yellow flames, orange flames, pyro, etc. going off at various times throughout the night. Backdrops were changed a couple of times, it was a get stage set up. The entire band was energetic all night long and Bret is really one of the best front men to come out of the ’80s.

I was counting on Setlist.FM to already have the set list up but it’s not there yet. I KNOW these are the songs played but I may have one or two out of order. I’m about 85% sure this is the correct order though!

Set list
“Look What The Cat Dragged In”
“I Want Action”
“We’re An American Band” (Grand Funk Railroad cover)
“Ride The Wind”
“Your Mama Don’t Dance” (Loggins & Messina cover)
C.C.’s Guitar Solo
“Fallen Angel”
“Unskinny Bop”
Rikki’s Drum Solo
“Every Rose Has Its Thorn”
“Talk Dirty To Me”
Encore
“Nothin’ But A Good Time”

Just a fun night all around, the venue was not as full as the Def Leppard show but still close to being packed. Top of the Orange got a good reception, it seemed like about a fourth of the audience knew who they were so that helped add to the enjoyment of watching them. Poison was indeed “nothin’ but a good time”. The band has caught a lot of flak over the years from peers and rock fans but I’ve always enjoyed them. They aren’t the best musicians or the most thoughtful lyricists but they always bring fun and a good time to the table and what more do you really need in a rock band?

Concert Review: Def Leppard & Heart (6/19/11)


Def  Leppard

W/  Special Guests: Heart

Opener: Evan Watson 

6/19/2011

The Amphitheater at The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama

First off, I gotta say that The Amphitheater at The Wharf is a pretty cool venue with not a bad seat in the house. I’d never been to it before and it was a much cleaner and nicer facility than I am used to going to. Then again, since it is located just over the Florida state line in a resort/beach town, it’s a given that the place would be pretty nice and well-maintained. Capacity is about 10,000 and though I can testify that it wasn’t a sell out from the five empty seats around us, it had to have been pretty close.

Here are my thoughts…

Evan Watson

Evan Watson is a blues/folk/rock guitarist who I wasn’t familiar with before this show. He wasn’t listed on any of the materials I saw promoting this show. Obviously, being the opening act, the venue wasn’t even half full at this point but those of us that were there appreciated Watson’s work. Great voice that lends a lot of passion and truth to the music he is playing and he came across as very likable during his stage banter.

Pretty interesting set up in that he didn’t have a backing band. Just a man and his guitar (he used some type of pedal setup to keep a beat). From what I can tell by his website, he usually has a backing band called The Headless Horsemen but it looks like he’s going completely solo for this tour.

He played a four or five song set but I can’t remember the name of the first song and in-between “Woodpecker” and “The Giving Tree” he played a song by The Band (the name of that song also escapes me). “Woodpecker” is a pretty cool & lyrically naughty blues rock number but “The Giving Tree” was the set’s highlight for me. I am now a fan and I’m going to check out his album A Town Called Blue and the just-released South EP.

[EDIT: I contacted Evan Watson on his Facebook page and he has informed me of the two songs I was missing.]

Set list
“Latitude”
“Woodpecker”
“Shape I’m In” (The Band cover)
“The Giving Tree”

Heart

When I initially heard about this tour, honestly, Heart wasn’t even a selling point for me. I had seen Def Leppard back in 2009 and wanted to see them again and that’s all there was to it. Yes, I am a fan of Heart but with only two of their albums in my collection, it would be a stretch to say they were a favorite act of mine (although I really enjoy much of their ’70s output). Once they hit the stage though, my mind was totally changed.

Great performance from the entire band with Ann sounding just as good as ever at 62 years of age (it was her birthday and Nancy led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to her). It’s just insane that anyone can still sound this good 30 years on. She has to be the best female rock vocalist of all time. As for Nancy, she was full of energy all night — hopping, skipping and jumping around as she played.

The best part of their set was their classic ’70s material along with “WTF” from 2010’s Red Velvet Car. That song is classic Heart in my opinion and fits in well with their older material. Of course, they had a number of hit rock/pop songs in the ’80s and played those as well. These songs went over well with the crowd (though I think the women were more into those songs than the males). Though they certainly weren’t going through the motions, I got the feeling like they just wanted to get through those commercial numbers as quickly as possible (which is probably why they were lumped altogether) as the sisters would jokingly make references to the songs as “another eighties song” and talk about MTV and big hair styles.

Heart is a fantastic, powerful and graceful live band and “Cook With Fire” was on fire. That was easily the best performance of their set. Such a great way to open their set and my only complaint on their performance is that they did not play “Dog & Butterfly”.

Set list
“Cook With Fire” (w/intro from “In The Evening” by Led Zeppelin)
“Heartless”
“Never”
“What About Love”
“These Dreams”
“You’re the Voice”
“Alone”
“WTF”
“Magic Man”
“Crazy On You”
“Barracuda”
Encore
“What Is and What Should Never Be” (Led Zeppelin cover)

Def Leppard

I was pleasantly surprised to see them open with “Undefeated” (one of three new studio tracks from the newly released live album Mirrorball: Live & More – review coming soon!). Though the song has grown on me since first hearing it, it comes off even better live and was a great choice as an opener that the crowd was into.

The rest of the set was about what you’d expect from Def Leppard these days, at least when it comes to playing in the U.S. (they played a slightly different set over in the UK recently that included “Wasted” from On Through the Night). In comparison to the 2009 show I caught them at, they’ve dropped “Rock Rock (‘Til You Drop)”, “Too Late for Love” and “C’mon C’mon” while adding “Undefeated” and “Foolin'”. Other than that, they changed up the running order a bit.

Though there are very little surprises with this band nowadays, they are a tight touring machine and in addition to their precise musical abilities, they have all the smoke, lights and video screens to back them up. It’s great to see them still going out and giving 100% when it comes to presentation. It really is a grand concert experience to see Def Leppard perform live, they hit all their marks, I just wish they would change up the set list a bit more and dust off a few numbers like “Promises”, “20th Century Boy”, “Make Love Like A Man”, “Women”, “Now” or “Gods of War”.

Set list
“Undefeated”
“Let’s Get Rocked”
“Animal”
“Foolin'”
“Love Bites”
“Rock On” (David Essex cover)
“Rocket”
“Two Steps Behind” (Acoustic)
“Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” (Acoustic/Electric)
“Switch 625”
“Hysteria”
“Armageddon It”
“Photograph”
“Pour Some Sugar on Me”
Encore
“Rock of Ages”

Overall, it was a great night. Def Leppard, Heart and Watson all put in great performances and it was a real treat to see Heart perform live. If they ever came back around as headliners, I would be interested in seeing them. The whole venue had a great atmosphere and the weather was about as nice as you could hope for given it’s the south and summertime (had a good breeze going). This is a show worth seeking out this summer and worth every dollar.

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