For all the critics and even fans who say artists from the '80s are no longer relevant or past their prime, one need look no further than the frontman of Poison to know why that era of rock and metal existed in the first place. That's because Bret Michaels sticks to a simple, but often unused, formula:
Good, fun songs + lively stage presence + honoring military veterans + "zero plugs" = nothin' but a good time.
Michaels was living proof as he headlined last Saturday's 102nd annual Fiesta Oyster Bake at St. Mary's University. From the moment he set foot on stage in front of thousands of food-on-a-stick and turkey-leg chewing, beer swilling, carnival riding fans of all ages, Michaels was hell bent on getting the party started.
He blazed through a trail of Poison classics. He vowed he would have "zero plugs" about his various projects. He concentrated on philanthropy, announcing he had helped build mortgage-free homes as part of Operation: Homefront before bringing up members of the Armed Forces to enjoy his performance of "Something to Believe In" (ATM footage here). Michaels also announced he'd be making a $10,000 donation to San Antonio charities. And after ending with KISS' "Rock and Roll All Nite," the band auctioned off Michaels' saliva-fueled harmonica and American-flag cowboy hat to more bidding fans.
Everything that happened in between wasn't exactly chopped liver either.
Tearing through Poison's smash "Talk Dirty to Me," the Bret Michaels Band hit the stage with fun ferocity that never let up. Michaels then declared that the fans requested him to reinsert the title track to Poison's 1986 debut into his set, as he rocked "Look What the Cat Dragged In."
For third song "Sweet Home Alabama," Michaels surprisingly dragged (or at least called up) Alamo True Metal and a pair of other photographers on stage. He pointed to the festival's patrons across the campus and instructed yours truly by saying, "This is what matters, right here" as cameras snapped away.
In introducing the Lynyrd Skynyrd cover, Michaels said it was off his "new album" True Grit -- which dropped in 2015. No matter. Michaels was having arguably more fun than anyone to remember the exact year at that precise moment. Well, guitarist Pete Evick may have given him a run for his "fun" money, rekindling Scorpions counterpart Rudolf Schenker with how wide, and often, Evick opened his mouth while jammin'.
In addition to drummer Mike Bailey, Michaels' most intriguing and recognizable bandmate was bassist Eric Brittingham, the original bassist of Cinderella whose former frontman Tom Keifer just happened to perform prior to Michaels with his own solo band (coverage here).
When all was said and done, fans relived "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" and another cover in "Your Mama Don't Dance" (setlist in slideshow). Although he left out other fun tracks such as "Back to the Rocking Horse," "I Want Action" and "Fallen Angel," Michaels probably would've required another 60-90 minutes from St. Mary's to truly span his musical career.
Michaels mentioned that he and his original Poison bandmates would be playing The Woodlands in June with Cheap Trick and Pop Evil, and that he was "working on San Antonio."
There was no mention of "Rock of Love," "Life As We Know It" or any of Michaels' reality TV shows. No wasted breath on Michaels once having been a winner of now-President Donald Trump's "The Apprentice." Not even a recollection of when an emergency appendectomy hours before he was to take the stage at SeaWorld San Antonio in 2010 forced Michaels to cancel a show he would make up six months later thanks to the doctors and nurses at Christus Santa Rosa.
Instead, the Fiesta Oyster Bake was "Nothin' But a Good Time." The way it was meant to be. Orchestrated by a guy who still knows how to rock any house with the best of them. And continues to party like it's 1986.