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Friday, November 18, 2011

Bret Michaels live at the Emerald Theatre, Mt. Clemens, Michigan

Bret Michaels live at the Emerald Theatre, Mt. Clemens, Michigan
Date: Saturday 12th November 2011

 Custom Built

If you've followed Bret Michaels career path, you'll know that he’s proven himself out as a successful lead singer in the band Poison, to a TV personality popping up here and there, as well as having his own TV reality show, ‘Rock of Love’ – Which made many rock fans lose a lot of respect for the guy. – and a solo career too that has seen him put out three solo albums.
The solo albums gave the guy a chance to flex a little, to his love of country music, a far cry from the glam and sleaze that has been Poison’s direction.

With the solo career in mind, I was kind of apprehensive about review a Bret Michaels solo gig, being the rocker I am but I needn’t have worried … It was a good night, of loud … I mean LOUD rock ‘n’ roll!

Michaels was preceded by three other acts, which tended to indicate it could be a short set from the Poison frontman.
Side note: Checking out Michaels historic setlists also indicated he does not like to play for too long solo.

All three acts were from the local Detroit talent pool, opening with Monkey Grinder, who played a mix of rock / rap and popular rock covers.
The crowd was OK with them, but nothing to write home about to be honest.

Then there was Artificial Agent who seemed to come across perhaps as a little awkward, with a singer who looked the part but whose voice really wasn’t grabbing most people. Maybe he was having a bad night?
They pretty much played a set of original material and a Kiss cover in 'Come on and Love Me.'

JoCaine were the third and final support act and Jo Caine the man seems to have enough clout locally – As he knows Uncle Kracker, Kid Rock, etc. – that probably explains how he got the top support slot. As they say, it’s ‘who you know …’

They have a hint of country, southern kind of rock about them and Jo Caine tends to write songs about Detroit and America, so he was starting well there and then he threw cans of beer out to the crowd, so that guaranteed he got on the right side of the crowd from the start.
The lead player I must say was pretty good, but could've done with being a little louder perhaps.
 They weren’t bad, a little clichéd but there you go …

Bret Michaels made us wait an hour after the support acts were done and by now, if you wanted a good spot on the dance floor area, if you hadn’t got there earlier, you were now out of luck!
No question about the audience split either of approximately 60 / 40 split, women to guys …

As the announcement goes out to the crowd to please welcome … Bret Michaels, we still have to wait through AC/DC’s ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ and Guns 'n' Roses ‘Welcome To the Jungle’ over the PA, before ‘Talk Dirty To Me’ open proceedings proper!

 (Bret Michaels live in Michigan - Photo: Alun Williams©)

He does like to talk to the crowd too, which clearly makes the set appear as he’s playing a longer set, as he first speaks about coming through Detroit with Poison and how well the fans have always been to the band, etc and then it’s ‘Look What The Cat Dragged In.’
I have to say, the band is tight, they rock hard and well and Michael’s voice sounds good. No complaints here!

Bret’s band features, Pete Evick – Guitar, Chuck Fanslau – Drums, Ray Scheuring – Bass and Rob Jozwiak – Keyboards and they’ve really got a good overall result.

It’s back to the chat again and he talks about his ‘Rock of Love’ series before then introducing ‘Go That Far’ as the theme song from the series. His only solo career song of the night …

Chat continues with praise of a band that he’s always admired and he wants to dedicate next song ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ to the great guys that wrote it, ‘Let’s hear it for Lynyrd Skynyrd!’
It really does all sound good so far great guitar work from Pete Evick and the rhythm section is tight!

(Pete Evick, guitarist in Bret Michaels band - Photo: Alun Williams©)

When Bret grabs an acoustic next, it’s a kind of a 50 / 50 guess in everyone’s mind …, will it be ‘Every Rose …’ or ‘Something To Believe In,’ and it’s the latter.
Just as he’s done on each occasion that I’ve seen Poison do this number Michaels has always made a point of dedicating the song to all the troops out there and those who protect our country, as they are always laying down their lives on the line for us all.
Well said that man!
The man shows his clear control over a live audience, as he stops the song just prior to the last verse and asks the crowd to sway their arms from side to side and the audience duly oblige.

 (Bret Michaels photo by Alun Williams©)

It’s ‘Unskinny Bop’ up next and during this, the guys all get a chance to throw a few fun licks around first with bassist Ray Scheuring as he runs the bass line for ‘Play That Funky Music’ a few times, then Pete Evick plays around with some tasty lead work and finally it’s time for drummer Chuck Fanslau to play his part in the activities, before everyone gets back into the song and they wrap it up. All good fun stuff!

(Chuck Fanslau above - Photo: Alun Williams©)

(Ray Scheuring above. Photo: Alun Williams©)

It’s definitely party time in the big ‘D’ as Michaels then leads the band into ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night’ from Kiss, before Michaels gives us a little harmonica to start ‘Your Mama Don’t Dance’ next and the crowd is just lapping this up!

Michaels then announces that he’d like to, ‘grab the acoustic guitar again for this next number …’ and he then starts telling us about the old days again and says, ‘you know I remember coming through Detroit playing at Harpo’s, Blondies, Pine Knob which it will always be and not the corporate name of DTE …,’ which then leads us into ‘Every Rose Has it’s Thorn’ and full praise to the band, as you could close your eyes and you’d think Poison was here. Spot on guys!

Wasting no time, it’s straight into ‘Fallen Angel’ next and it’s the last number of the main set and as the band leaves the stage, just one hour after arriving, Bret shouts out, ‘Thank you for twenty five awesome years Detroit!’

The crowd is too pumped for Michaels to leave it there and sure enough, the band returns for ‘Nothin’ but a Good Time’ and the show is over.

It was a really good, fun show and perhaps it was shorter than many bands of this genre play, but it was a very well played set indeed.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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