Poison brought ‘feel-good, American party rock’ to Jones Beach. (Photo: Tina Eves)

There is perhaps no band more synonymous with straight-forward, feel-good, American party rock than Poison. The glam quartet, together for more than 30 years – with a brief interruption during the not-kind-to-metal mid-90s – steamrolled into the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater on Long Island, NY, on a mission. And that mission was crystal clear: to knock the figurative socks off the thousands in attendance with ‘nothin’ but a good time.’

The Pennsylvania group’s frenetic, 80-minute set got off to a rousing start with the electric “Look What The Cat Dragged In,” the title track off of the band’s 1986 debut effort that regularly acts as the set opener. It was followed with one of their original odes to sex, the deliberately unsubtle “I Want Action,” before seamlessly transitioning into what is arguably the band’s most underrated single, 1990’s “Ride The Wind.”

Poison’s C.C. DeVille (l) and Bobby Dall (Photo: Tina Eves)

What makes Poison so durable is their unapologetic style of music. And while other acts of the era frequently alter their approach to the genre with more supposedly profound compositions, including reworked live versions of timeless classics, they instead opt to perform each tune from their extensive catalogue exactly the way they were recorded.

The opening licks of the anthemic “Talk Dirty To Me” caused an eruption in the crowd as C.C. DeVille, one of rock’s most underappreciated guitarists, proved his immeasurable worth to the band as he feverishly played each note with the same unbridled passion as the classically trained musician first displayed decades ago. His solo didn’t disappoint on this night as he seemed to gain speed and ferocity the longer it lasted.

Rikki Rockett (l) and Bret Michaels (Photo: Tina Eves)

Not to be outshined, however, was the rhythm section tandem of bassist Bobby Dall and drummer Rikki Rockett. Dall, simply put, is a beast behind the bass, while Rockett’s meticulous pounding of the skins is an absolute treat. Combined, they complemented each other beautifully, creating a virtual melodic symphony.

Frontman Bret Michaels made no attempt to conceal his patriotism as he enthusiastically noted his own father’s veteran status and his love for the United States Armed Forces before dedicating “Something To Believe In” to everyone who’s served in the military, inviting several of them to join the band onstage during the poignant performance. But it’s the undeniable charisma of Michaels that has always been the backbone of the group and his energy was infectious on the band’s cover of the Loggins and Messina chart-topper “Your Mama Don’t Dance” as well as fan favorite “Fallen Angel,” both off of 1988’s Open Up And Say…Ahh!

Topped off in white, Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander commanded the audience. (Photo: Tina Eves)

A riveting encore of Kiss’ “Rock And Roll All Nite” was given an added touch of flair as two members of Pop Evil, the evening’s deliciously heavy opening act, vocalist Leigh Kakaty and bassist Matt DiRito, joined the band onstage to help belt out the beloved tune.

The Michigan-bred Pop Evil led the night off with a haunting set, blending distorted double guitars from Nick Fuelling and Dave Grahs, along with the powerful drumming of Hayley Cramer, and the smooth bass work of DiRito. Kakaty’s evocative vocal prowess quickly won the audience over on songs like “Boss’s Daughter,” “Be Legendary,” and closer “Trenches,” in which the singer trekked through the theater, greeting and high-fiving fans in each section he passed through.

Cheap Trick (l to r): Daxx Nielsen, Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander, Tom Petersson (Photo: Tina Eves)

While Pop Evil didn’t form until the 2000s and headliners Poison personify the 1980s, Cheap Trick could be considered the show’s elder statesmen, with their origins dating back to the mid-70s. But don’t be fooled – there was no going through the motions with these classic rockers.

Singer Robin Zander, in his trademark white top hat, looked and sounded like he took a dip in the Fountain of Youth as he guided guitarists Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander Jr., bassist Tom Petersson, and drummer Daxx Nielsen – yes, Cheap Trick is now a family affair – through hits and deeper cuts.

Pop Evil’s Leigh Kakaty (Photo: Tina Eves)

As “Hello There,” “You Got It Going On,” and “California Man” sufficiently broke the ice, it was “If You Want My Love” that truly ignited the spark for the throngs of diehard fans of the Rockford, Illinois band.

Perhaps the most mainstream number of the group’s career, “The Flame,” succeeded in settling the crowd down as what seemed like the vast majority of concertgoers lit up their phones to create a stunning visual of lights throughout the arena. But the slowdown was short lived as the high octane trifecta of “I Want You To Want Me,” “Dream Police,” and “Surrender” followed, before ending with the appropriately-titled “Goodnight Now.”

Poison Setlist:

  1. Look What The Cat Dragged In
  2. I Want Action
  3. Ride The Wind
  4. Talk Dirty to Me
  5. Something To Believe In
  6. Your Mama Don’t Dance
  7. Guitar Solo (C.C. DeVille)
  8. Fallen Angel
  9. Unskinny Bop
  10. Drum Solo (Rikki Rockett)
  11. Bass Solo (Bobby Dall)
  12. Every Rose Has Its Thorn
  13. Nothin’ But A Good Time
  14. Rock And Roll All Nite

Cheap Trick Setlist:

  1. Hello There
  2. You Got It Going On
  3. California Man
  4. If You Want My Love
  5. Long Time Coming
  6. Ain’t That A Shame
  7. The Summer Looks Good On You
  8. Bass Solo (Tom Petersson)
  9. I’m Waiting For The Man
  10. The Flame
  11. I Want You To Want Me
  12. Dream Police
  13. Surrender
  14. Goodnight Now

Pop Evil Setlist:

  1. Boss’s Daughter
  2. Ex Machina
  3. Deal With The Devil
  4. Be Legendary
  5. 100 In A 55
  6. Take It All
  7. Footsteps
  8. Waking Lions
  9. Trenches

Click here for Poison/Cheap Trick/Pop Evil tour dates.

Check out the Royal Flush gallery below (photos by Tina Eves)

Joe Puccio

Joe Puccio is a lifelong fanatic of the three essential tools to living a fulfilling and satisfying life: professional wrestling, hard rock, and horror. He resides on Long Island, N.Y. with his wife and two kids...aka Penny the cat and Lucy the dog.