Photos & Words by: Adam R. Harrison
Celebrating 20 years of good times, legendary 80s glam rockers, Poison, brought their Nothin’ But a Good Time Tour to Toronto’s Budweiser Stage on Tuesday night, June 18. The appropriately named tour was indeed non-stop fun, also featuring 70s power pop band, Cheap Trick, and modern day radio rockers, Pop Evil.
Pop Evil kicked off the evening with a crunchy 40-minute set of their uniquely melodic, hard rockin’ tunes spanning their five-album career, including their latest single “Waking Lions.” Lead singer and front man Leigh Kakaty was full of excitement as he took ownership over the stage. During “Waking Lions” he even brought out his young son on his shoulder to sing the final chorus with him. During the last song “Trenches,” Kakaty took to the crowd, singing verses through various sections of the amphitheatre and concluding from the very back row amongst the fans.
Cheap Trick opened their set in classic fashion with “Hello There” and despite some of their members almost hitting the age of 70, they were ready to rock for a full 60-minute set. Hall of fame guitarist Rick Nielson, who looks just like your grandpa, roamed around the stage in is classic suit and ball cap, making goofy faces, shredding solos and tossing guitar pics into crowd. While lead singer Robin Zander took his place centre stage with his signature police hat, belting out vocals like it was 1977. The band treated us to a catchy, brand new song entitled “The Summer Looks Good on You.” But of course, no Cheap Trick set would be complete without hits like “The Flame,” “Surrender,” and “I Want You to Want Me,” which are always a delight to sing along to.
Poison’s set consisted of 90-minutes of classic hits, instrumental solos and good ol’ fashion fun all around. From the opening riff, the guitars were heavier and raunchier in a live setting than you might remember them from the original records, starting with the title track from their debut album “Look What the Cat Dragged In.”
Iconic front man, Bret Michaels, was in bright spirits and full form, running around and pointing at fans like he just drank a litre of Red Bull. It’s interesting to see the members a Poison today, who once had more hair, makeup and tight clothing than your sister. An although Michaels remains in great shape and still rocks his signature eye-liner and bandana, they’ve adapted to look a little more their middle age. Bassist Bobby Dall who was once a sex symbol, is now as grey as Gandalf and rocks the eye glasses on stage. He may even remind you of your wacky eighth-grade science teacher.
Before getting too deep into their set, Poison dedicated their set to #TorontoStrong and gave a shout out to the troops fighting for our freedom overseas. Both of which were very important to Michaels, who comes from a military family.
Much like Cheap Trick, a Poison concert wouldn’t be right without expected classics like “Talk Dirty to Me,” “Unskinny Bop,” as well as the hit ballad “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” They closed the main set with the tour namesake “Nothin’ But a Good Time.” All of which had much audience participation. They would continue with this notion into the encore when Poison returned with Kakaty from Pop Evil to perform a cover of KISS’ “Rock and Roll All Nite.” A fitting way to wrap up a full evening that can be described in one word… Fun.