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Bret Michaels
with American Anthem
November 16, 2003
House of Blues - Los Angeles, CA

See More Pictures Here Susan Salva
Staff Writer
John Salva
Photographer
Photographer Mr. Bret Michaels

Before the red velvet curtain rose in the rustic venue of the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip, the joint was playing pre-recorded music over the P.A. system. The music featured eighties rock legends including Van Halen, Guns 'N Roses and AC/DC to help pump up the crowd already nearly over six hundred rebel rousers.

Bret Michaels, singer/songwriter of the rock band Poison appeared center stage in support of his solo "Song of Life" tour. Dressed in a black tank top with a red star, black skintight jeans, and his signature white bandana across his forehead, he jumped up slapping hands with his fans. The audience was leaning up against the barricade, as Michaels sang "Nothin but a Good Time." Michaels started off a set that included some of the old Poison songs, new songs from Michaels new Songs of Life album, and a few cover tunes.

American Anthem backed Michaels on this tour. Their band members featured Cliff Calabro the lead singer and guitarist, Steve Frangadakis on guitar & vocals. Frangadakis periodically filled in for Cliff Calabro while on tour, Calabro was awaiting the arrival of his first child a baby boy. Christy Calabro plays lead guitar & backing vocals, John Medina on drums and Joe Andriaccio on bass.

"Menace to Society," was the second song performed by Michaels that evening. Christy Calabro played lead on his florescent green guitar. Michaels was very energetic and danced across the stage to this upbeat song.

"You know, life doesn't suck," said Michaels. "I think I know every face in the audience tonight," he slapped hands again with all of the fans that were up close rubbing against the stage. "It's a good night to be alive tonight."

"Bittersweet," Michaels explained that "This would be our second single off of our Songs of Life CD'. Let's break it down," says Michael singing into his scarf-laden microphone. The song is about a girl that has cheated on him with his best friend.

"Why don't you help me out and sing along. It's a song about my two and a half year old daughter Raine." "Raine" is the first single from Songs of Life. This song is a powerful ballad.

When the band played on "You're Momma Don't Dance," Michaels blew his harmonica & Frangadakis pealed off a shearing guitar solo.

For "Unskinny Bop," the crowd went wild when Michaels played this song; an energetic track where he swirled the microphone and did the splits. For the next tune Michaels slid back into an old favorite, "Something to Believe In," a song about his best friend that died. Cliff Calabro joined in on this song helping with a solo guitar lick.

"Knockin' On Heavens Door," Michaels explained how he decided to cover Bob Dylan's legendary track acknowledging that Guns 'N Roses had covered it before. "We're making magic tonight. It's awesome making music for 18 years."

With "Every Rose has its Thorn," he caroused the audience into singing the first verse to Christy Calabro's solo on his guitar. "I don't want to play Poison songs poorly," he explained after the show about the pressure he has to perform up to Poison fans standards.

Michaels decided to play "Party Rock Band" instead of "Honky Tonk Woman," which he played the night before in San Diego. It's a punk rock jumping track. The last two songs were crowd favorites "Fallen Angel," performed by Medina doing double time on the drumbeat and a choreographed guitar line up. The last song off of the Look What the Cat Dragged In was the song that started it all off for Poison, "Talk Dirty to Me."

The performance was awesome and proves that Michaels, at forty, can still party with the best of them. The show was one hardy party. If you're looking for a good time check out Michaels on the road.

American Anthem started their opening set as the with their rendition of Thin Lizzy's "Boys are Back In Town." Cliff Calabro was psyched to be there and as the opening act as American Anthem and backing band for Bret Michaels. Calabro promoted American Anthem's website www.american-anthem.com shouting out, "What the hell is up? Let us know whether you like us or if you think we suck. I want to hear it." They may back up Michaels as his band, but they have their own unique style and sound.

"What's on Your Mind," was their second song, but a fast favorite for their fans. The guitar solo was courtesy of Christy Calabro playing on a red, white, and blue guitar. Cliff taunted the audience by throwing out CD's and T-shirts. He was energetic and bubbling over with enthusiasm. Wearing his signature black straw cowboy hat covering his eyes he plunged into singing a cover version of a T-Rex tune. He pumped up the audience with the Medina's solid drumbeat.

"Love's Chance," 'This song is about giving love another chance," explains Cliff Calabro about this melodic guitar riff as he kicked his boot into the air. Next Cliff pulled up a stool and slapped on an acoustic guitar. "I'm gonna sing you a song I wrote last night to my unborn son Justice. Excuse me if I messed up the song I haven't had time to rehearse it," he explained, singing a very moving, fresh song.

American Anthem remade one of the Beatles songs with loud drums. Their last song is on their self-titled CD American Anthem as "Pins and Needles" was performed triple time drums booming bass courtesy of Joe Andriaccio. American Anthem has a great future ahead of them. They are full of life and have abounding energy. Be sure to check them out.

Susan Salva is a Staff Writer. Contact her at susan@rockzone.com.


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