Okay, maybe not Slaughtered.
While Bret Michaels was billed as the headliner, I do believe Night Ranger ruled the night with their intense, but fun loving, stage presence ““ more on that in a minute.
It was great to have the likes of Bret Michaels of Poison and Night Ranger’s guitarist Joel Hoekstra at Thunder Valley Casino the day after the new movie Rock of Ages premiered at theaters across the country. Music from Poison is featured in the movie and Hoekstra makes a cameo appearance. Hoekstra also stars in the Broadway hit Rock of Ages.
As over 4,000 fans filed into Thunder Valley Casino’s outdoor amphitheater, Slaughter took the stage kicking off this 4 hour extravaganza of hair flipping and high energy entertainment, with their hit song “Wildlife.”
As only true diehard fans can do in close to 100 degree weather, they rose up from the clutches of their nicely cushioned seats (ok, the bleachers ““ not so cushioned) to rock with the likes of Mark Slaughter (lead singer/guitar), Dana Strum (bass ““ makes sense with a name like Strum), Zoltan Chaney (drums), and Jeff “‘Blando’ Bland (lead guitar).
Within minutes into their set, the Slaughter crew were drenched in sweat and appeared to be totally into nothing but rocking and entertaining the crowd. Blando was the most energetic of the foursome, whipping his hair like it was 1999 and acting like he was still twenty-something.
The most violent award goes to drummer Chaney, who thrashed his drums to the point of having to pull out a wrench to fix one of his cymbals. The man was an animal!
While the entire crowd wasn’t on their feet during Slaughters performance, you could see them nodding their heads, pumping their fists, and just plain rocking out.
In between sets actor, stuntman, producer, director, and all around nice guy, Branscombe Richmond came out to joke around with the crowd and throw t-shirts at unsuspecting audience members.
As Night Ranger stormed the stage it was complete bedlam on stage and off, with Hoekstra immediately flipping his blonde locs of hair while ripping away at his guitar, while off stage the entire audience jumped to their feet.
Starting their set with “Lay it on Me,” founding members Jack Blades (bass) and Brad Gillis (guitar), along with Hoekstra were going back and forth playing off of each other. Hoekstra and Gillis were the most animated of the three, as they were making faces at each other and constantly engaging the audience.
Drummer and founding member Kelly Keagy joined in the fun too, as Hoekstra, Gillis, and Blades all would work their way to Keagy.
As they played through hits like “Sing Me Away,” “Touch of Madness,” “Hearts Away,” and of course “Sister Christian,” they continued to interact with the crowd and each other. Hoekstra had a grin on his face almost the entire set, as did Blades and Gillis.
Blades announced to the crowd that Gillis was celebrating his 55th birthday as he ribbed Gillis most of the night.
Night Ranger sounds just like they did years ago and they’ve maintained their high level of energy throughout the years. The addition of Hoekstra has added another, more theatrical, dynamic to their performances.
Prior to Michaels making his way on stage Richmond reminded everyone about Michaels ongoing battle with diabetes and how important it was to take care of yourself and get checkups on a regular basis.
It was a strange start as someone from Michael’s team came out and made some announcements regarding merchandise (nothing new here), but then after he yelled;
“The Party Starts Now!”
The audience ended up waiting for another 10 minutes before Michaels made it out on stage.
Sounding a bit off with Poison’s hit “Talk Dirty With Me,” Michaels had the crowd eating out of his hand. Wearing his signature bandana and long hair (come on! It’s gotta be a wig.) Michaels worked the audience like a true entertainer.
Thanking the audience for making the VH1 reality show “Rock of Love” the number 1 show on VH1 3 years running, Michaels started in with the theme song for the show, “Go That Far.”
Sounding much better after a few songs Michaels continued with a number of cover songs including Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” Loggins and Messina’s “Your Mamma Don’t Dance,” and Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Nite,” just to name a few.
He peppered in some Poison songs such as “Something to Believe in,” “Unskinny Bop,” and “Look What the Cat Dragged in”
While Michaels wasn’t Slaughtered by Night Ranger, I place him at a close second due to the number Poison hits he left on the shelf. Talking to a number of people after the show, they all agreed that Night Ranger won the night. However, all were in complete agreement that Michaels put on a high energy and entertaining show – so no, he wasn’t Slaughtered.