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Poison still pleases at Montage Review

After 21 years, band gives fans what they’re looking for as Ratt, Vains of Jenna open.

Bret Michaels and C.C. DeVille of Poison perform at the Toyota Pavilion in Moosic Saturday evening.

S. John Wilkin/The Times Leader

MOOSIC – A commercial for “Rock of Love with Bret Michaels” was shown on a screen at the back of the stage after Vains of Jenna’s opening set.

Following was footage of Poison recording “Poison’d,” the band’s latest album.

It was as if Poison wasn’t a band the audience would be seeing later Saturday night at the Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain in the season’s closing concert. Rather, Poison was like a product. Some might call it good branding, but judging from the number of Poison shirts in the audience, most people probably knew about the album of covers and Michaels’ quest to find love on a VH1 reality show.

A different commercial aired after Ratt’s set, this time for the show’s premiere on July 15. The band should update its material – just like it updated its set material with the new album, which had another advertisement air after the second “Rock of Love” commercial.

And, finally, out came the band that everyone was waiting for. Through all the commercialism, the internal fights, the cyclical fickleness of the music industry over the past 20 years, Poison survived. One look at the band on stage, the adoration Michaels has for guitarist C.C. DeVille, and it’s easy to see how.

Poison, which originated in Mechanicsburg, Pa., rocked Montage like it was the first and only time it would be to the area. There wasn’t a moment when Michaels’ voice faltered (or DeVille’s for that matter – he took center stage during “I Hate Every Bone in Your Body But Mine”).

Even when Michaels was on harmonica, he was flawless. And, considering he was playing with his right hand in a neon green cast because he would rather play with a few broken knuckles than cancel the show, the musicianship and dedication of the band was beyond impressive.

Michaels didn’t stop running – it wasn’t his foot in a cast, anyway – and the band didn’t have a single down moment on stage during the show, which was 21 years in the making.

When Poison played “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” there wasn’t a single person who wasn’t on his or her feet, belting out every word. It was moments like that on Saturday when nothing in the world besides that minute mattered, when the entire crowd was dancing and carefree. It bordered on perfect, really.

Vains of Jenna used only half the stage during its opening set, but the sound was so loud, it was as if the band was taking up the whole stage. The band acknowledged the crowd but probably didn’t care who it was – and the band didn’t care who the audience was either. It wasn’t exactly a way to make nice with the crowd.

Ratt lead singer Stephen Pearcy took a different approach. He shouted out Scranton no less than 19 times during the band’s set – and that’s not including the three times he said Pennsylvania alone.

It worked. Most of the crowd was clinging onto Ratt’s every note – the rest was wandering up and down the rows and aisles because every song sounded exactly the same to those who haven’t been collecting Ratt albums over the past 20-plus years.

Sure, it was a show based in the ’80s, a bill for the fathers who were singing along while fumbling with cell phones to take pictures. It was for the mothers who had posters of these bands on her walls before she had children of her own.

And it was for everyone who sat in vibrating seats during Poison drummer Rikki Rockett’s drum solos, where he twirled the sticks and tossed them in the air batons. But mostly for the crowd members who were on their feet the entire show.

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