And the sign said “Long-haired freaky people need not apply”… The best part of Tesla’s abbreviated opening set for the rock show triple-header was their cover of the song “Signs”, originally done by Five Man Electrical Band. Soon thereafter, they performed their signature hit “Love Song” and it was not great. The years have not been kind to Jeff Keith’s voice (lead singer for Tesla). For much of their performance, the front man’s vocals sounded irritatingly enough like C.C. Deville’s cat-in-heat stylings to make my left eye twitch. But as I mentioned, the set was brief so mostly no harm no foul.
The setting: we were inside the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater, having procured lawn ‘seats’. Once inside, we rented actual lawn chairs so as to not have to sit on the hard grass covered earth. For the record, the lawn seat rental was $5 for each chair. I mention this because it does not detail this information on Live Nation’s website and no one from their customer relations would answer my email on this topic. Moving along, Kristi rented a 25 oz Michelob Ultra beer complete with generic venue can coozy…and I opted to start with a souvenir size Wild Cherry Pepsi. The very flimsy plastic souvenir cup did have the caveat of free refills but I did not tap this renewable resource and later, left the cup for the clean up crew. Once these expenditures were checked off the virtual list, we proceeded to the merchandise booth. After a typical lengthy wait to advance to the front of the line, we surveyed the offerings ranging from bandanas to t-shirts to hoodies. (Sarcasm alert) Of course, I think I need a $65 hoodie when the outside air temperature is right around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If it was 90 degrees Celsius, I think everyone would have been nothing but charred meat because the Fahrenheit to Celsius ratio is almost two to one. So 90 degrees Celsius would equate to nearly 194 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s even hotter than Arizona most days I think. But it was a ‘moist’ kind of heat, as is the norm here in St Louis during the summer.
Where was I again? Oh yeah, in line at the ‘T-shirt Booth’ checking out the options. Here I will give credit though. Despite the outlandish prices, there were quite a few t-shirt options of each group for the consumer to consider. When all was said and done (paid for), I opted for a bluish background concert shirt, size large, of Poison with cool artwork on the front and tour dates on the back. Kristi opted for the ‘lineup’ concert shirt, which had all three bands on the front and the concert dates on the back. Let the record show, her shirt is black. After our transactions were transacted, we meandered up onto the hill (or the lawn) where it is policy for lawn seat customer to choose anywhere to sit. For those of you who have never been to the venue formerly known as Riverport Amphitheater (as named from 1991 through 2002), imagine a baseball or softball field. If you were looking from the outfield in, the stage would be ‘home plate’, next is the physical seating area or the infield and beyond that is the lawn seating or the outfield. For this event, we choose to put down our rental lawn chairs in deep right centerfield.
After Tesla grounded out weakly to the pitcher, next up to bat was Poison. They played their usual list of fan favorites and allowed the crowd to ‘Talk Dirty’ to them in chorus. Mr. Bret Michaels played my personal favorite song of theirs, “Something To Believe In”, partially acoustic. He dedicated the song to the military personnel and their families in attendance. The song’s back story is entangled with the events surrounding Bret’s personal bodyguard and close personal friend’s suicide. His friend was former military. I always feel a lump in my throat and tears form in the corners of my eyes when I hear this song. It’s just a close to the bone, heart-felt song about loss and daily life. Even from a few hundred feet away, the band sounded great and they had nice energy throughout their whole set. Bret mentioned St Louis about 35 times in their hour long set and it got a huge pop each time he said it. They took care of business and relinquished the stage to be prepped for the headliner: Def Leppard.
Def Leppard took the stage and opened with Let’s Go, from their 2015 self-titled album, which I was not familiar with until I looked it up today. They put on a solid show and I have to say my favorite song they played wasn’t even one of their own. Don’t mistake what I’m saying. Animal – great. Foolin – very cool. Love Bites – well done. Armadeddon It – always fun. Rocket – drunktastic! Bringing on the Heartbreak – nicely done. Hysteria – good good. Pour Some Sugar On Me – lots of pop and crown antics. But my favorite part of their set was their cover of the 1973 classic Rock On. Originally done by David Essex and remade in 1989 by Michael Damian (of Young and the Restless daytime drama fame) this song was killer. Gnarly. Awesome! Whoa! Tubular! Rock On!
Now some of you may have been in the house for this show or seen them in your own city and may be asking about one of their more popular songs: Let’s Get Rocked. Yeah they played it. Yeah it went over real well with the crowd. Yeah I sung along (because I know all 9 words to the song). But if I must be honest, I don’t particularly care for this fluff piece. And that is not a swipe at my friend Jacob Werner aka Fluff. It’s just me saying I think the song is a big nothing…like most of the band Kiss’s catalog. I was hoping against hope for an inclusion from their album ‘X’ in the form of track number five: Long, Long Way To Go or just about anything else from this effort. But no dice and a little disappointment for me. C’mon guys! You were a few measly hours away from my birthday…and couldn’t squeeze another four or so minutes in? Boo!
The 2.5 bands performed admirably but another huge component to the concert experience is the people watching. It is always interesting to check out the age spans in attendance for bands that started 36, 37 and 40 years ago respectively (Tesla, Poison, Def Leppard). Also as the night wears on and the thresholds for sobriety are breached, everything turns into a Jerry Springer episode. To the jackwagon who literally was throwing handfuls of sugar (LeBron James style) during Def Leppard’s performance of Pour Some Sugar on Me…to the two older ladies who were trying to accost me in the beer purchase line…it was entertainment at it’s finest. Footnote: To the dorkbags behind us in line waiting to initially enter the venue, shut up. Stop reading the set list for each group for the show. Maybe some of us do not want to know what’s coming up and just want to be pleasantly surprised when the first few chords of each song plays out. #MamasBasementDwellerDorksForLife
In closing, I think the shows duration and atmosphere were worth the $80 paid for the two tickets. I’m not sure if I can say the same for the amount spent on beers, soda and t-shirts but that’s the risk you run with going to such a show.
One last thing before I mentally walk out of the gates from last night; during the Def Leppard set, Kristi needed to visit the restroom facilities. I, being a gentleman, escorted her as it was now dark outside and amidst the thousands of peoples it’s just a better idea to stick together. On our return trip to the lawn, we encountered a gentleman who closely resembled the Poison front man Bret Michaels! But upon closer inspection and actually asking him if he was…the answer was no. It turns out the guy was a Bret Michaels impersonator and has performed locally at Pop’s Night Club over in Sauget, Illinois. Besides his likeness resembling Bret Michaels, his choice of t-shirt was what actually caught my initial attention. He was wearing a pristine Warrant concert t-shirt, with the band’s name in bright green neon letters. I had a short conversation with him and told him I liked his shirt and the world was still missing Jani Lane. He agreed with my sentiments and shook my hand. He waved and said for us to enjoy the rest of the show. It was fitting to see someone at this type of show wearing a Warrant shirt because for so many years (before Jani’s death) Warrant would tour with Poison for summer rock shows like this and at this venue no less.
Time to take a bow, wave to the crowd and slowly walk off the stage.