Classic Fun w/ Foreigner, Whitesnake, Cheap Trick & more (Summer 2018)

If you are old enough to relate to the 80’s music, you most probably remember the rise of the glam-rock movement, and the days when the exaggeratedly flamboyant clothes, makeup and hairstyles dominated the rock n’ roll musical scene. We checked out quite a few this Summer!

Poison/Cheap Trick - June 2nd - Toyota Music Factory - Irving, TX

To be clear, though I AM old enough & came up during that time & loved Motley & RATT and many others from that era, I admittedly was never a Poison fan. By the time their sophomore album Open Up And Say… Ahh! & it's inescapable hit Every Rose Has Its Thorn was everywhere in 1988 I had long transitioned to Thrash Metal as a middle schooler in need of something a bit heavier. Besides, when Motley did the glam thing they still seemed cool & tough, Poison was the first band that to me legitimately looked like women. And all the embarrassing stuff Brett Michaels has done in the years since whereas may have endeared him to horny housewives everywhere but his patriotic man of the people schtick is worn pretty thin. 
 

Another strange this is that for all my concert attending years & even festivals, I've managed to avoid ever seeing Poison live.
However being a massive Cheap Trick fan & I go see them every year, I was willing to keep that streak alive in an opening slot capacity for a band that I loathe. Presented as always (& accurately) as “the best fucking rock n’ roll band you've ever seen”. 

 

 

Still sporting three of the four original members – all of them way in their sixties –  (guitarist Rick Nielsen’s son Daxx now mans the drum kit in place of Bun E. Carlos) their setlist was a mixture of newer cuts cause their still consistently making killer albums with their massively well-known hits with Nielsen frequently switching between blazing and eclectic guitars and throwing handfuls of colored guitar’s picks to the frenzied crowd. After that killer opener they promptly upped the ante and closed their sixteen songs set without missing a note, with Nielsen playing a five neck guitar during “Goodnight Now” while moving through the catwalk allowing the fans in the first rows to mess with the strings of the two lower fret-boards. Always worth it, every time.

Setlist - 

Hello There
You Got It Going On
California Man (The Move cover)
If You Want My Love /
Southern Girls
Ain’t That a Shame (Fats Domino cover) /   
The Summer Looks Good on You
I’m Waiting for the Man (The Velvet Underground cover with Tom Petersson on lead vocals and “Heroin” snippet) /
The Flame
I Want You to Want Me
Dream Police
Surrender
Goodnight Now  

I thought to leave right after (it was super hot & outdoors in Texas heat) but I figured since I was alone, already here & would never make any effort to see Poison this will be as easiest as it gets. For all of my curmudgeonery, nonetheless, three decades later Poison is still alive and kicking as a musical entity.
And you know what, it wasn't half bad - In fact (cause I love puns) it was Nuthin but a Good Time.

 

During an hour long set-list comprising some of their biggest hits clearly demonstrated that even when they traded the spandex fashion outfits for flannel and jeans a while back, their vigor and abilities to engage the multitude and offer a genuine spectacle.
Bassist Bobby Dall in full Give No Fucks mode cracked me up as he was the only one clearly comfortable in Dad Gear wearing flannel, nerdy glasses & sporting his natural hair color, while the others were holding on tight to wigs & hair plugs.

However, from Michaels giving the crowd high fives to each fan gathering around the catwalk throughout the set, pointing to the most distant ones and genuinely enjoying every second, to guitarist C.C. Deville running here and there between his solos and raising his arms asking for the crowd to shout, and Rockett regularly tossing his drumsticks in the air and twirling them between the beats, all four members of Poison showcased an enthusiasm that was a joy to witness. 

Setlist   

Look What the Cat Dragged In
I Want Action
Ride the Wind
Talk Dirty to Me
Something to Believe In
Your Mama Don’t Dance (Loggins & Messina cover)
Fallen Angel
Unskinny Bop
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Nothin’ but a Good Time   

Encore:

 Rock and Roll All Nite (KISS cover) 

 

 


Foreigner/Whitesnake - July 21st -  Toyota Music Factory - Irving, TX

Now this is what Summer is all about right? Right in the middle of the dog days for a classic outdoor rock show.
Our loyal readers might remember our coverage of last year's Foreigner tour celebrating their 40th year where we were just there to see Cheap Trick (see above) & ended up staying for what turned out to be our favorite show last year (& one of the best ever).

So we knew what to expect now from Foreigner but what about Whitesnake? Admittedly I hadn't done my research & all I know is that this band was the Summer of 1987 for me & also the last & only time I've ever seen them live. I hear they were still kicking ass & was excited to see for myself, but who besides David Coverdale is in the band? Doesn't it really matter? I'd love to have seen that same lineup from that magical Summer & was hoping for as much familiarity as possible. That's why you go see Classic Rock bands right?


 

Happy to report that while only Coverdale & legendary drummer Tommy Aldridge remained, it was more than enough (& cmon man the might Reb Beach who's been in the band for 16 years) as they came roaring out for one fun rock set. They kinda disappeared on me after that amazing run with the self-titled record, only putting out 2 records in 20 years (& only 2 more since then) but they seemed very focused here, enough to make Flesh & Blood, their first in over 4 years to be something to anticipate & should be arriving early next year.

Setlist - 

Bad Boys
Give Me All Your Love
Love Ain't No Stranger
Slow an' Easy
Crying in the Rain
Is This Love
Slide It In
Here I Go Again
Still of the Night

 

So now it was time for Foreigner & if you had told me before last year's show that this would be the most anticipated event (for us) of the Summer I would have thought you were high. Kicking off with a high-energy Double Vision, they moved from hit to hit with ease in its well-paced set. With back-to-back hits including Head Games, Cold as Ice, & Dirty White Boy, it was like a classic rock radio station brought to life. Like every song is a hit
 


Now this too is a band that if your looking for an all original lineup, you may wanna look elsewhere but why would you as this is no tribute act. Founding member Mick Jones at 73 years young came out looking healthy and playing spot-on guitar and keyboards with the group he created. And while the rest of the band aren’t original members (though they had just reunited with all surviving original members a few weeks back in NYC) they’ve all been there for a long time at this point I came to learn. Lead singer Kelly Hansen joined when Jones resurrected the band in 2005 and has been there ever since & their bass player is freaking Jeff Pilson from Dokken! 

The issue I was originally taking was the absence of singer Lou Gramm but Hansen was the SHIT who seems to possess unlimited energy. He never stopped moving, dancing and working the crowd as he hit all of the notes perfectly.& sounded so good and so close to the originals. 

Wrapping up their set with a knockout encore of I Want to Know What Love Is with a full local middle school choir and Hot Blooded, they left the crowd fully satisfied that it had heard all of the songs it wanted to hear, and had heard them done well, with solid musicianship and awesome showmanship. 

Setlist -  

Long, Long Way From Home
Double Vision  
Head Games  
Cold as Ice  
Waiting for a Girl Like You  
Dirty White Boy  
Feels Like the First Time  
Urgent  
Starrider  
Juke Box Hero  

Encore:  

I Want to Know What Love Is   
Hot Blooded

 

 

Faster Pussycat - August 15th - Trees - Dallas, TX 

 Everything starts off with band stalwart Taime Downe. Although I am definitely happy to see Downe rocking away and doing seemingly well after his health scare last year, the singer unfortunately doesn’t move a whole lot on stage and hardly tries to even connect with the audience. Aside from saying something to the likes of “How is it going motherfuckers?” and “We’re Faster Pussycat”, Downe lets the music do the talking. 

 

Another band on this list that suffer from few original members, given that Downe is the only original member left from the group, the rest of the band members reminded me of the documentary Hired Gun, which can be seen on Netflix. For those who haven’t seen it, Hired Gun has many musicians such as bassist Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, Dio and many others), guitarist Phil X (Bon Jovi) and guitarist Nita Strauss (Femme Fatale, The Iron Maidens, Alice Cooper) who have worked for famous musicians and discuss what it’s like to be a “hired gun” and how you have to be on every night. What the various musicians do not state during the documentary is that you can’t upstage the famous musician in the band. In other words, Nita Strauss can’t be seen upstaging Alice Cooper (which would be hard in the first place) aside from when she is given the spotlight.  

In Faster Pussycat‘s case, that essentially means that Downe‘s supporting cast of lead guitarist Ace Von Johnson, rhythm guitarist Xristian Simon, bassist Danny Nordahl and drummer Chad Stewart cannot upstage Downe on stage. This poses somewhat of a problem because Downe doesn’t do a whole on stage aside from standing while sitting, and standing and looking cool with his arms to his waist when not singing. That seemingly limits what Downe‘s supporting cast can do onstage and in particular Von Johnson who reminded me of former L.A. Guns guitarist Michael Grant who was seemingly held in shackles and holding himself back with Tracii Guns back in the band. It just felt like Von Johnson in particular could be doing so much more. I got a little glimpse of how Von Johnson would be as a frontman when he took a turn handling lead vocals towards the end of Faster Pussycat‘s set and I would love to see him take the reigns of a band. The problem of course, just like any hired gun, is that Von Johnson doesn’t have the well known song material to rely upon if he was to branch on his own and in this musical climate, he’s better off being a “hired gun.”  

.  

Setlist:  

Jack The Bastard 
Cathouse
Slip Of The Tongue  
Number 1 With a Bullet  
The Power And The Glory Hole  
You’re So Vain (Carly Simon cover) 
Don’t Change That Song  
House Of Pain  
Nonstop To Nowhere  
Where There’s A Whip There’s a Way  
Bathroom Wall
He's a Whore  (Cheap Trick cover with Don Jamieson on lead vocals) 
Pretty Fucked Up (Supersuckers cover with Danny Nordahl on lead vocals)
Shut Up and Fuck (Betty Blowtorch cover with Ace Von Johnson on lead vocals) 
Babylon

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