Written by Dave Clements

It had been a long week and a hot and humid weekend in the Lone Star State. Frankly I really wasn’t all that excited about going down to The Woodlands on a Sunday night in spite of the fact that I was anxious to see what Pop Evil was all about.  And both Cheap Trick and Poison are always entertaining.

BA7U0098-212All of that reluctance left me by 7:02 pm when Pop Evil, a band I had not heard of before this tour, was barely into their first song. These Michigan boys formed the band in North Muskegon in 2001 and showed their maturity throughout their 45 minute set. Leigh Kakaty, the lead vocalist for the group, was strong voiced and polished in his stage presence. His distinctive and entertaining vocals reminded me of Creed’s Scott Stapp.

I liked their songs even though they were completely unfamiliar. I would not hesitate to go see them again if given the opportunity.

I also have a couple of other observations regarding Leigh, one positive, one negative. First, I really didn’t think the half dozen F Bombs he threw out added much to the show.  However, I was really impressed that on the last song of the set he wandered through the audience taking selfies with several fans he passed on the way up to the lawn. And I don’t remember ever seeing a performer actually finish the show up on the hill like he did!  Sure seemed like a great way to expand their fan base and I’d give him two thumbs up for that effort.

BA7U0845-Edit-226Cheap Trick has been on the music scene since 1974, a mere 44 years. Based on what I saw Sunday night they are just getting better and better with time.  Robin Zander, lead singer, came out in his Top Hat ready to fire up the audience and did just that immediately. Rick Nielsen, exuding total coolness, had his guitar going full speed from the beginning. The only thing that slowed him down was him grabbing guitar picks off his mic stand and flicking them into the audience. In fact, Nielsen is the reigning champion of the world in pick flicking.  He has precise, perfect direction and lighting speed with every move (including between his legs). His distance control was on as well and I swear I saw one make it out of the pit which maybe was over ten rows back. If I could hit a golf ball like he flicks a guitar pick I might have been able to make a living at it! (…on second thought, probably not).

The band is tight, fun to watch and extremely colorful. My only disappointment was that we were only provided the opportunity to photograph the first three songs of their set. Disappointed because as their set rolled on there were so many other fantastic and whimsical guitars used by Nielsen.  They would have been so much fun to show you in the HMR Photo Gallery if only I had had my camera available. Come on Rick, next time give us more songs or show us your entire tour collection earlier in the show!

BA7U1164-176Before getting to this night’s headliner Poison I want to mention that there was a lot of electricity in the air in and around The Woodlands and Montgomery County. There were 60 mph winds in the area and thousands of lightning strikes. My reason for bringing this up is twofold. First, I was very impressed how the Pavilion handled the weather event. They made the safety of their patrons the highest priority.  They made it clear to all in attendance that there was potentially dangerous lightning in the area and posted ‘please remain, or move calmly under the pavilion roof until the all clear is given’ on the jumbotron screens.  And this was all done without interrupting the show.

Now my second reason for bringing up the lightning. It is my theory, undocumented of course, that Bret Michaels must have been struck by one the lightning bolts nearby because he came out on stage totally electrified. His energy level was truly amazing, so much so that the entire audience came incredibly alive.  I have seen Michaels perform before yet I had not seen anything that resembled his Sunday night’s performance. It was in this reviewer’s estimation one of the highest energy shows I’d ever seen. And of course I’d hate to compare what I saw to a Mick Jagger/Stones’ concert – but certainly this night he was in the league with Brother Mick. He made me want to stop shooting photos and just pay attention to his back and forth movement on stage and out on to the stage thrust.

Besides his stage presence and energy level it was so very impressive to see how he genuinely paid tribute to our Armed Forces. Select members were invited out on stage for a well-deserved standing ovation.  They even paraded out on the stage thrust and high-fived with audience members.  Thanks to Bret I’m sure they left feeling honored.

In closing all I can say is Bret Michaels’ band’s name Poison is the antithesis of what he puts out there and what we witnessed in this band’s front man. And Woodlands Pavilion management, thanks for keeping us safe.

Until next time please support live music every chance you have. Without us fans out there spending our hard earned money supporting these artists they will quickly be gone.