Nothing better than a summer concert on the Hill at DTE in Auburn Hills, or as we born and raised Michigander’s like to call it Pine Knob. Well that’s what I’ve always told myself until now, when I got the chance to take photos in the pit during the Poison, Cheap Trick and Pop Evil concert on June 8, 2018. The tour is called the “Nothing But a Good Time Tour” and easily describes this concert, making it a must see for 2018.
Very rarely do you see the stage altered at this venue. So, seeing a small temporary cat walk off the center of the front stage raised the excitement for fans. Many fans dressed the part embracing the days of past with 80’s big hair and leather pants. Between the venue, the stage change and the fan base the crowd was pumped and ready for a show of a lifetime.
Pop Evil took the stage at 7:00 pm, the Michigan band was happy to be home and played up to the crowd. I think Pop Evil was honored to be opening for the legendary bands Cheap Trick and Poison because lead singer Leigh Kakaty really brought the energy to the stage, running around throwing his hands up, thrusting, jumping and singing his heart out pumping up the crowd. The opening song, “Boss’s Daughter” rushed the raw explosiveness energy to set the tone for the remainder of the evening. Pop Evil continued to bring the energy like a battering ram full of aggressive riffs including songs, “Ex Machina,” “Deal with the Devil,” “Be Legendary,” “100 in a 55,” “Take it All,” “Walking Lions” and the inspirational song “Footsteps.” The hair whipping of bassist Matt DiRito was glorious to watch. Personally, I think he has some of the best hair in the hard rock industry, and photographing him was pure joy. Guitarists Davey Grahs and Nick Fuelling took turns going left to right of stage playing up to the crowds. But, Hayley Cramer, the gorgeous blonde rocker bangs her head as much as her drums, and she goes harder than I’ve seen most drummers perform. Leigh even ventured out into the crowd during the last song, all the way back to the people sitting on the lawn during their #1 hit “Trenches.” He even took the time to take selfies after the show with fans who rushed him as he climbed the hill.
Cheap Trick came out kicking, literally, as guitarist Rick Nielson walked out onto the stage and threw up his leg. Cheap Trick continued to kick the energy up with front man Robin Zander belting out hits from over forty one years of history. Zander dressed in a custom printed suit, hat and matching converse. The print had historic photos of the band, which the photos were also rotated on a background LED stage screen for all the fans to see and reminisce. Nielson brought on stage a barrage of eclectic guitars, bringing back memories from when I first seen them in concert back in 1988. He accessorized his black suit with his signature checkered pattern guitar strap, ear piece and even a patterned tooth cap in his mouth. He’s presence still larger than life throwing guitar pix’s out to fans and playing up every moment he could, demanding attention. Zander commanded the stage singing songs “Hello There,” “You Got it Going On,” “California Man,” “Long Time Coming,” “A lot to Lose,” “Summer,” “Ain’t that a Shame,” “Waiting on a Man,” “The Flame,” “I Want You To Want Me,” “Dream Police,” “He’s a Whore,” “Surrender” and “Goodnight”. The fans’ reactions to the songs put huge smiles ear to ear on the lead singers face. It was a moment to see. The stage was complete with Tom Petersson’s solid bass, and delivering a solid pacing beat over and over was Daxx Nielson, son of Rick. A nice surprise was the young man standing to the side stage bringing the rhythm guitar to life. I was pleased to find out that it was Robin Zander Jr, filling this position. Age did not stop the performance on this stage, it was delivered solid, enjoyed by all, sounded great and what I imagine will be many more years of future concerts to still come.
During Cheap Trick’s set, Matt DiRito grabbed one of the Cheap Trick guitars and mastered playing with Rick Nielson. Nielson also called Hayley Cramer back on stage to sing back-up vocals.
An Instagram quote from Hayley: “Still Buzzing from Getting to Sing with Cheap Trick… When you feel out of your comfort zone-you just gotta go for it I guess! There’s a point where he’s like “Sing There’s the mic” and I’m like “No No, I can’t But he’s such a good encouraging energy you get over your fear! I seriously can’t thank him and Cheap Trick enough!”
Matt DiRito thanked Cheap Trick as well on his Instagram for making him smile every single day of this tour.
A cartoon video with photographs filled the large LED screen, the signature neon green Poison name plastered across the backdrop and the beats to “Look What the Cat Dragged In” started to thump as Poison took control of the stage. Bret Michaels ran out onto the stage, full of young youthful energy, reaching out and touching the hands of fans in the front row wrapped around the catwalk. Women were throwing themselves toward the stage for a chance to touch the blue eyed lead singer. Bret’s energy never stopped, he gained the attention of fans from the beginning to the end. The Chart-topping hits continued to come, as Poison rolled out “I Want Action,” “Ride the Wind,” “Talk Dirty to Me,” “Something to Believe In,” “Your Mamma Don’t Dance,” “Fallen Angel,” “Unskinny Bop,” “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn,” “Nothing But a Good Time” and “Rock N Roll”. The term it was on fire is accurate, green fire flames created a backdrop ambiance perfect for framing drummer Rikki Rockett in photos. I was impressed with seeing Rockett play live, he made sure to play up to the crowd, not just to his drums in his own element. Looking around pointing drum sticks at the crowd and pumping the beats. Bobby Dall performed every strum on a lime green glitter bass. He backed each song with vigor. And Let’s not forget the ever famous guitarist C.C. DeVille. He still has a cutting edge style and all the right moves working the scene from one corner to the next. He intently plays up the crowd with power and amazing vitality. The fans came to have “Nothing but a Good Time” and that is exactly what they received. Poison delivered every song, every beat.
Make sure to add this tour to your list this summer. This is one not to miss, it was action packed from beginning to end with three very complimentary bands. You will leave wanting more, and singing in the car all the way home, planning for the next adventure.
Photos and review by Michalle Henderson
Check out our shots from Poison’s show at DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan on June 8, 2018! Click on each picture for a larger view!
Check out our shots from Cheap Trick’s set at DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan on June 8, 2018! Click on each picture for a larger view!
Check out our shots from Pop Evil’s set at DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan on June 8, 2018! Click on each picture for a larger view!