Last Friday I was kidnapped by my buddy Diane – at least until she found out all she could get for me were some Kohl’s coupons and a half a pack of gum.
Either way, she convinced me to go with her and other buddy Jen to a concert at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles for the Bret Michaels Christmas Party!
I must confess. I thought they said we were going to a George Michael Christmas, which would have meant a tribute show beginning with the insufferable Do They Know It’s Christmas (SPOILER ALERT: Yes. Africans do know Dec. 25 is Christmas) and ending with the over covered Last Christmas, which inspired a really stupid romantic comedy (SPOILER ALERT: The line “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart,” is taken literally and the heroine falls in love with the guy who received her fiancees heart in a transplant. Her hubby-to-be died in a car crash – last Christmas).
A George Michael Christmas sounded fabulously festive. Plus, it takes me so long to grow a beard, right now, a month or more into it, I have what Michael would call a 5 o’clock shadow. So I would blend right in – especially since my friends convinced me to put on my cute jeans and a nice top.
Imagine my surprise when, during the half-hour Lyft ride from Algonquin to St. Charles, I learned we actually were attending the Bret Michaels Christmas Party! I hadn’t even bought a Secret Santa gift.
OK, I’m making up some, if not most, of the above. Be glad you’re not reading the MLB.com version, where I claim I thought we going to see Hall of Fame baseball player George Brett.
Anyway, on the way to the show Diane used her smartphone to reintroduce me to the music of Michaels, who fronts the band Poison.
I wasn’t much of a hair metal fan back in my youth, but I knew of it from MTV, the documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, Part 2, and Tipper Gore and her pals getting the vapors over naughty lyrics.
Nah, The Clash was a gateway band for me, which led to my catholic tastes and discovering all sorts of sounds back in the day.
Hair metal seemed so silly. Environmentally unfriendly, even.
Think of all the fluorocarbons put into the atmosphere from the hairspray – enough to melt an Icelandic glacier, I imagine. And all the cows who died so the bands could wear leather pants. Plus, the rabbits who perished testing makeup, lipstick and eyeliner, just so the guys could wear it. Not to mention, I doubt any of the acts recycled their booze bottles.
Now, in my old age, I’m more laissez faire. Silly has its place, as long as it isn’t hurting anybody.
People in their 40s – 60s listening to hair metal these days? Probably not a lot of hurt going on with that, but for beer spilled on the Arcada floor and reading glasses left behind.
I’ll also admit that Poison had some catchy ear candy, even if I have no idea what the hell the phrase Unskinny Bop means, and apparently neither did the band. My personal favorite Poison number, Nothin’ But a Good Time, pretty much sums up the hair metal genre. That, and anything you used to hear in strip clubs.
The Friday show began with a trio playing a short set that included two Deep Purple tracks, without an organ even! The band covered Pat Traverse and Pink Floyd tunes, too.
Brett Michaels came out on stage wearing a Brett Michaels t-shirt and rocked the house with the screen behind him proclaiming his name. I’d like to have a t-shirt with my name on it, too, particularly for those occasions where I forget who I am.
He seemed a positive, friendly sort, and he and his band played with enthusiasm. This was their fourth or fifth time playing the Arcada at Christmas. This Christmas party, their stage monitors blew, but the band played on in good spirits.
Me, I became distracted, as I am wont to do, by the folks around me. This happens at church, too.
Before the concert, those distractions included a security guard dressed in paramilitary garb; a skinny guy in his 50s, in all black clothing, skinny jeans and with jet black stringy hair; and a guy who looked like a lesbian gym teacher. On closer inspection, his t-shirt let you know he thought he looked like the deceased WWF wrestler, Rowdy Roddy Piper.
The owner of the Arcada donned acid wash jeans for the evening. Good thing I didn’t wear my parachute pants or we would have had the battle of bad clothing!
Then, the fashion distraction was a bleach blonde woman sitting in front of me wearing bedazzled jeans. She bent over a couple times. Like the Poison song goes, every rose has a thong.
I caught a glimpse of her face and couldn’t tell if she was 35 or 65. Her look was a combo of orangey bronzer and fake tan.
Worst of all was a woman a few rows further ahead. She was shooting plenty of video with her phone, because that’s what you do at concerts these days. Her hands looked funny.
When the stage lights went bright, I shuddered. The woman had fingernails the length of baby snakes.
I couldn’t concentrate on the show for at least three songs. Who knows? I might have blacked out. The only thing that scary I’ve seen lately is a creepy old guy at the gym wearing really short running shorts.
Those nails though! How do you eat? Drink? Type? Scratch your butt? Pick your nose? Rub your eyes? Hold hands? Wipe? Unskinny bop?
Her claws inspired me to form the Foundation for Sensible Nails. Donations will fund buying clippers for cougars and others addicted to their long nails, so they, too, can lead normal lives.
My attention returned to the stage in time to see Michaels and his not-Poison band bring first responders and military members on stage to thank them for their service. I saw the group cover the Kiss classic I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night for the finale.
One big fan in the front row was so excited he made a double devilish horns sign. Directions for that: Extend both pinkies. Put hands together with thumbs and all other fingers balled as if in fists.
Next it was time to auction off some Michaels memorabilia for charity, followed by a meet-and-greet with Michaels backstage.
Meeting Michaels was a big part of the reason we all were at the concert. Diane is friends with a family whose special needs daughter has taken a liking to Michaels.
Diane arranged for the girl to meet the singer both before and after the show. I learned they compared what they had for breakfast, which was scrambled eggs and bacon for Michaels and Cheerios and a banana for the girl.
Michaels has his own foundation and does a great deal of charity work. According to reports, he donates the money from his meet and greets and show auctions to nonprofits. He’s worked with hospitals, Toys for Tots and sends kids with diabetes to camps designed for them. Michaels has Type 1 diabetes and was diagnosed when he was just 6 years old.
Michaels graciously greeted fans who had paid for the opportunity to meet him. He hugged them, talked to them, had his photo taken with them.
When my turn came, I couldn’t help but notice Michaels dyes his sort of goatee and wears eyeliner. This coming from me, who dressed like Big Bird with a Notre Dame hat.
I was going to be a smart ass and ask why he didn’t play Wake Me Up Before You Go Go or any Christmas music.
Instead, I thanked Michaels for the show. He hugged me. We exchanged small talk about the band playing a show without stage monitors. I had my picture taken with the singer.
And when I got home, I texted my friends, thanking them for a wonderful adventure.