Live: Mötley Crüe And Poison Bring The Thrills To Nassau Coliseum
Mötley Crüe w/Poison, New York Dolls
Wednesday, July 20
Better than: Attending an 18-year high school reunion with a cash bar, albeit one mitigated by the DJ having a music library nearly identical to yours back in the day.
An extremely partial list of pop-cultural events since Dec. 11, 1989, when I attended my first concert, headlined by Mötley Crüe and hosted by the Nassau Coliseum: John Corabi. Behind The Music. Indoor smoking bans. The Pam and Tommy sex tape. Napster. The Dirt. Cell phone cameras becoming the norm. Rock of Love. Skating With Celebrities. Blogs. (So many blogs.) Bret Michaels winning The Apprentice.
Warrant opened that show, which made Mötley, technically, the second band I ever saw live.
I saw Warrant with Poison the next summer at the same venue, and as it turned out, Poison was the second band on last night's bill. It makes sense that lead singer Bret Michaels has turned into America's Favorite Hard Rock Star, although that ex post facto logic didn't make the idea that the cover for Open Up And Say Ahhh was once daring and in need of record-store censorship any less funny in the post-Rock of Love era. Poison's charm lay in their gentleness, the giggly sex appeal of Bret Michaels, the Catskills-ready comic relief of CC DeVille, the makeup they'd worn in their earliest years that they'd never be able to scrub off their public image, the dumb puns that made the sexuality Michaels sang of OK for afternoon airplay on MTV, if not family-friendly.
Poison's set was a bit truncated, but most of the band's hookiest hits were represented; the putative "Runaway" sequel "Fallen Angel"; the ode to the open road "Ride The Wind." The one "new" song was a cover of "We're An American Band." Some of the more familiar tracks had what sounded like curious lyrical shifts where Bret seemed to be putting words ("every rose has its thorn," among others) into the mouths of others, and agency into others' actions. Usually women. Now that he's singing with his daughters on Kidz Bop, him putting some of the sexual bits into the hands of people who aren't him makes sense, but it was still a bit disconcerting.
The crowd bathed in the band's attention, with both Michaels and DeVille coming over to say hi to certain familiar faces crowding both sides of the stage, and Dall occasionally doing the same. This had one very bizarre side effect: Whenever one of the three members with the ability to run around the stage ventured over to stage right, a (brunette, well-groomed, business-attired) woman standing right up front would whip herself around; her male companion would then try to get a picture of her with a real-life Poison member as backdrop. This despite there being "no cameras" posters on each of the doors leading into the Coliseum's atrium. Judging by the looks on their faces while checking the camera's viewfinder post-shot, only the picture with CC as backdrop worked.
Nobody on stage seemed to mind much about the camera ban being flouted time and time again. Instead, gratitude was the order of the night, with 3/4 of Mötley thanking the crowd for hanging in for 30 years and playing "the area" 50 times; Michaels, during Poison's set, saying multiple times how happy he was to be back on Long Island (I've seen him proclaim the band's summer shows at Jones Beach as a "tradition" before) and healthy after the brain aneurysm that befell him during his Celebrity Apprentice run; and people crowding the Coliseum's bars in packs, toasting their friendship and the fact that they could get down like they did decades ago for a single night.