Cheap Trick & Poison

Published on June 27th, 2018

Poison is a band whose members’ work in reality television may surpass their musical output in silliness, but only by a hair. Yet the legend parties on, despite or possibly because of the band’s outsized boob tube persona.

Rikki Rocket, Bobby Dall, Bret Michaels and CC DeVille spent the late ’80s and early ’90s on top of the world, living what would become the caricature of the glam-rock L.A. lifestyle. Of course, all things must end and grunge did for Poison what Elvis did for big bands. But never fear: Where there’s a ship with no steam, a bold wind blows in — hello, nostalgia marketing. A greatest hits compilation reintroduced a band that had fallen out of the public eye just long enough for the masses to develop a hangover from grunge, and voila! Poison was back in business. The fellas resumed touring and recording, and their frontman even starred in “Rock of Love with Bret Michaels,” a Vh1 dating-game show that ran for far too long. But we all watched, so no excuses.

Cheap Trick, on the other hand, never took a break. Defying age, fatigue and pat  classification, they’re the power-pop/rock band with a dash of glam and punk that kids and parents alike could enjoy. The seemingly billion-selling “Live at Budokan” record has been heard by nearly everyone; even the Beastie Boys sampled it.

Sometimes described (or damned) as a precursor to bands of Poison’s ilk, Cheap Trick stepped into the ’80s with “Dream Police,” a song so catchy you’re probably humming it in your head as we speak (go on, finish the chorus). They exited the decade with a template power ballad, “The Flame.” (Poison answered with “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.”)

The mismatch of handsome rocker boys Robin Zander and Tom Petersson with misfits Bun E. Carlos and Rick Nielsen has endured, in its way, too, even with Carlos currently estranged from his old mates: Nielsen’s progeny, Daxx Nielsen, is Carlos’ replacement on drums. It’s fun to see where they take it as the core trio gets older and everyone’s looks start to even out. Long live power chords in major keys.

Poison with special guest Cheap Trick play July 1 at the Hard Rock Event Center in Hollywood ~ Tim Moffatt

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