Monday, April 14, 2008

Live in Concert: Bret Michaels in Salinas

Drunk guys and girls stumbling all over the place, nearly knocking down large video screens. Shaved-head cholos working as security. Police roaming every square inch yet somehow managing to miss violent altercations.
It all added up to one thing: A rock concert in Oldtown Salinas.
Friday night's Bret Michaels show at the Fox Theater in Salinas was an entertaining event as much for the people watching as for the show itself. Michaels hit the stage around 10 p.m., introduced by "Rock of Love" castmates Heather and Destiney and his bodyguard/main camarade Big John. It was big fun all around.
When Big John announced Michaels to the stage, the opening strains to GNR's "Welcome to the Jungle" blasted through the speakers. Then nothing, as the song played out in its entireity. While it was a head scratcher as to why they played a GNR song to intro as opposed to, say, a Poison song, it proved oddly appropriate, as Michaels played as many cover songs as he did his own material.
Michaels hit the stage with his band rocking "Talk Dirty to Me" and the sparse crowd ate it up. He recieved a hero's welcome as he ripped through his opening number, drawing a thick crowd of older women stationed in the front to fight for his attention and showing their admiration.
That pack of drunken hyenas didn't seem to let anyone else, particularly females, draw too close to Michaels. I saw at least a couple of girls escape from the throbbing pit sweaty and frustrated. It was pretty funny to watch.
Michaels set list included "Sweet HomeAlabama" and "Your Momma Don't Dance," classic rock standards that fit right in with Michaels delightfully tacky steez. I remember him playing at least one song from his solo catalogue, mixed in with Poison ballads "Something To Believe In" and the obligatory "Every Rose Has It's Thorn."
In between songs, Michaels chatted up the crowd, switched guitars a few times, smiled, mooked, and ran through the checklist of a professional rock n roll bad ass. I can't front, for all of his otherworldly looks and hammy showmanship, Michaels is a likeable, seeming approachable cat. A true school beer at the bar good fella.
He closed it out with the encore "Nothing But A Good Time," the ultimate beer-selling anthem. Michaels has re-branded himself for a new generation through the lowest of common denominators, reality television, but he's done it on his terms and you can't but root for the guy. His solo show wasn't the grand spectacle I wanted (I though the Poison show last year at the Sports Complex was a better display of his star talent), but dude can rock the house in a good way.
And if nothing else, it was fun to watch my hometown gente act a damn fool without anyone getting seriously hurt. Thanks for that, Bret.

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