Review by John Jeffrey, Photos by Diana MacDonald
Akron, NY - Being a lifelong KISS fan, I never thought I would see and artist shrewder about their merchandising until I went to go see the Bret Michaels (Solo) Band on Friday night at Braun’s Concert Cove. While the stage announcer was offering the crowd the opportunity to buy everything from Bret’s stage clothes, to his stage-played guitar, to the chance of a lifetime to meet Bret Michaels for a mere $200, (and I swear there was some mention of them literally auctioning off the keyboard player for the night), I couldn’t tell if I was at a concert, or a gathering for a snake-oil salesman.
Between Bret’s demeanor on stage, and the way he was pointing out which parts of his stage attire would later be put up for auction, he really reminded me of the character that Steve Martin played in the movie,“Leap Of Faith”. In the movie, Martin plays a fraudulent Christian faith healer (Jones Nightingale), who used his revival meetings to bilk believers out of their money. Ironically, some refer to Michaels as “Bert Miracles”, due to the record time he apparently healed (and was back on stage performing) after reportedly having brain surgery.
Carnival barking aside, musically, the Bret Michaels Band was solid, perhaps even tighter live than Poison. However, individually, the band members are unremarkable, lacking the charisma of their Poison counterparts. For example, guitarist Pete Evick: while he gives the Poison songs a much improved sound via his Les Paul, that intangible star power possessed by Poison guitarist C.C. DeVille is what was missing.
Set list-wise, the BMB delivers the “poor man’s” version of a Poison show. Performing a short, 10 song headlining set, clocking in just over an hour, the BMB plays 8 of Poison’s set list staples, along with covers of Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” and Sublime’s “What I Got,” (both of which appear on Bret’s latest solo CD, “Jammin’ With Friends”). While it’s cool that he actually played something from one of his solo CDs, it’s too bad that he didn’t play any of his original solo songs, as there is quite a few gems in his solo catalog that he never touches live.
Halfway through the set, “Miracles” gave the crowd “Something To Believe In,” as he brought a multi-tour war veteran up on stage to get the crowd to move in tandem with the music of the song. This was a sincerely touching moment, which was somewhat offset when Bret returned to the stage a song later (after the drum solo), showing off his “bedazzled” BMB cowboy hat, which was to be auctioned off after the show.
Nevertheless, Bret Michaels is a great performer and entertainer, and whether he’s opening amphitheater shows with Poison, or headlining to packed club shows, like Braun’s, with his solo band, you’re guaranteed to have “Nothin’ But A Good Time.” But, if you don’t keep a tight grip on your wallet, a “good time” with Bret Michaels can be a costly trip.
Special Thanks to Ross Catalino and Dana Kaiser.