By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
The whole point of going to a rock ‘n’ roll concert is to have one hell of a time and experience. I was born in 1987, so I never got to experience the wild rock shows that were happening during the 1980s. It was time where drugs, booze, sex, and rock ‘n’ roll became not just a catchphrase, but a way of life. That is especially true, if you were a fan of the Sunset Strip glam metal scene during that musical period. A lot of groups were cashing in on the scene, and making hot music that would become a party anthem or a love/heartbreaking ballad. If there was any group that exemplified that persona, even to this day, that would be Los Angeles’ own Poison. They have embarked on their latest adventure with Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Famers Cheap Trick and poppy hard rockers Pop Evil. Irvine, Calif., was their first stop, and the people of Southern California were ready to party.
Pop Evil is one of those groups that have defined what they are and what they are all about: a hard rock engine with a pop melody torque built in. Promoting their 5th album, Pop Evil, I first caught them at Las Rageous, and I was excited to see them play again with a longer set. Vocalist Leigh Kakaty was stellar on the microphone, giving the fans of Irvine a hard rock harmony. I felt the band has really come into their own, and with their newest addition, drummer Hayley Cramer, I believe they are reaching the highest peak of the rock ‘n’ roll mountain. I thoroughly enjoyed the double guitar attack from lead Nick Fuelling and rhythm player Dave Grahs. The fans took in their hit songs, which included “Ex Machina,” “Deal With the Devil,” “Trenches,” and their newest #1 single, “Waking the Lions.” They are an interesting choice for an opening group for two legendary acts, but I felt they were the right ones.
Full Pop Evil slide show below:
The first Cheap Trick album that I ever owned was their magnum opus live album, Cheap Trick at Budokan. I had the opportunity to see those guys 12 years ago in Irvine, but that fell through unfortunately. After more than a decade of waiting, I finally get to see the power pop rockers. I took it all in from the pit, as I watched Rick Nielsen dazzle the crowd with his infectious riffs and bombastic collection of custom made guitars. Note for note, the unlikeliest rock star out there cranked it up with his hooks and melodies. Bassist Tom Petersson plucked away on his custom made 12 string bass, a concept he invented back in the 1970s. I loved listening to Robin Zander croon the fans with his righteous voice. I could not believe I was hearing “Baby Loves to Rock,” “Dream Police,” “The Flame,” and “I Want You to Want Me” in person. They were once an energetic group, but with age, they have slowed down. However, that did not stop them from wowing the fans with their all time classic, “Surrender.” That was Nielsen brought out his famous checkered quint neck guitar. They were a fun band to watch. I was extremely pleased to see them at last.
Full Cheap Trick slide show below:
Night fully engulfed the sky, and out came L.A.’s favorite party band: Poison! Frontman Bret Michaels catered to the fans an array of classic glam metal favorites, while taking in all the love from the fans of Irvine. After over 20 years on the scene, Michaels’ voice is still as lustful as the day he first picked up a microphone. He strutted on the catwalk like it was nobody’s business. Riding along with him on the party band wagon was longtime guitarist C.C. DeVille. Sporting a cowboy hat, slick beard combo, and long straight hair, he was filled with electricity, as he jolted the crowd with spectacular licks and solos, especially on his solo number right after the Loggins & Messina’s “Your Mama Don’t Dance.” Drummer Rikki Rockett and bassist Bobby Dall were like shake and bake, delivering hot rhythmic hooks and beats. They were firing on all four cylinders, driving the crowd to a party frenzy.
Michaels loves to honor the men and women of our fighting military, and he gave them a big shout out by performing “Something to Believe In.” Oh, I so enjoyed hearing a lot of their classics like “Look What the Cat Dragged In,” “I Want Action,” “Fallen Angel,” and “Unskinny Bop.” After Rockett treated the fans to an excellent solo and a rockin’ version of the Pink Panther theme with Dall, the acoustic guitar comes back out, and Michaels lets us listen to one of the greatest ballads ever written, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” It was so beautiful; I wish I had a lighter to put in the air, so I settled for a flashlight on my cell phone. Afterwards, the concert went back to party mode with the iconic party anthems, “Nothing But a Good Time” and “Talk Dirty to Me.”
Full Poison slide show below:
As the song would suggest, I had nothing but a good time in Irvine. The FivePoint Amphitheatre was filled with fans, old and new, looking to kick back and have a good time with Poison. They still deliver a stellar concert, and show no signs of slowing down. Cheap Trick was delightful, and Pop Evil keeps getting better with each new show. So far, this summer is sizzling with hot bands heading for Irvine. I want more of this action this summer. To Poison, Cheap Trick, and Pop Evil, I salute you. Horns up!!!