Light rain, overcast skies, and brutal humidity blanketed Saint Petersburg, FL for the first concert at Al Lang Stadium. The home for the aptly named Tampa Bay Rowdies was set to welcome back Brett Michaels and the rest of the boys in Poison for their first tour as a band in over five years. The show opened with Pop Evil and local cover band Pitbull Toddler.
Widely known throughout the Tampa area as one of the premier cover bands, Pitbull Toddler has been named ‘Best in the Bay’, and can regularly be found performing around the state. While many cover bands struggle to find the line between a cover and reimagining a track by putting their own twist on it, Pitbull Toddler rides the line perfectly. With a short set to welcome the arrival of dusk, the crowd grew substantially by the end of their set.
Pop Evil’s relentless tour schedule allows them to continuously develop a relentless fan base. While their brand of metal might be considered starkly different from Poison’s, they balance each other out really well. Their band has undergone a few changes through the years. Two long-term members, lead singer Leigh Kakaty and rhythm guitarist Dave Grahs demonstrated their masterful musicianship and unmistakable presence when they hit the stage. The energy from Leigh alone can drive the audience crazy, but add in the blistering speed at which Dave can play, and you have a recipe for something special. With a surprisingly shorter setlist, they still managed to cover a wide variety of tracks from their catalog. Opening with that classic tale of ‘Boss’s Daughter’, making a ‘Deal With the Devil’, and (my personal anthem) going ‘100 in a 55’, they took everyone on a journey that their fan base thrives in. Closing out with their biggest hit to date ‘Trenches’, the audience was already blown away and the best was yet to come.
Poison hit the stage just after the sun had completely set. Considered by many to be the kings of glam rock, these days the hair doesn’t have the same seven cans of aqua net, the eyeliner isn’t as thick, and the spandex has been traded in for denim. Yet their gospel of rock that they preach from town to town was as meaningful as ever. Playing a 14 song set, including three solos, they covered their biggest hits, and pulled off great covers of ‘Your Mama Don’t Dance’ and ‘Rock and Roll All Night’. Adding in fan favorites ‘I want Action Tonight’, my personal favorite ‘Fallen Angel’, ‘Talk Dirty To Me’, ‘Nothin’ But A Good Time’ (the tour namesake), and you cannot have a Poison show without their opener ‘Look What the Cat Dragged In’. While the solo’s from C.C. DeVille on guitar and Bobby Dall on bass are always great, Rikki Rocket’s drum solo was something else. You see drummers slapping the skins for a great solo everywhere all with their own twist, but Rikki’s solo was a clinic itself. This doesn’t diminish from the accomplishments of the other band members, and certainly doesn’t take away from what Bret Michaels brings to the vocals. As one of the final shows of this tour, it felt like they had come full circle and were performing at their best.
Content & photos by Jordan Raiff