Bret Michaels Does Some Handshaking and Strummin' the Guitar at Hard Rock Live

Bret Michaels 
Hard Rock Live, Hollywood 
Saturday, February 18 

Sometimes life doesn't want you to get to a Bret Michaels show on time. Sometimes it swoops in and places you amid dozens of other cars that are barely moving for hours. And even though during those moments, you think, "Sorry, Bret. Not gonna make it," part of you knows that nothing is going to keep you from hearing "Fallen Angel" for the second time this year. 

Besides, Michaels invited us to personally meet him during our recent interview. For a girl whose favorite band in fifth grade was Poison, who talked about Bret Michaels every day of her tenth year, kicking the traffic's ass was a must. 

Michaels played the same Hard Rock stage last summer with former hair-pop-metal band Poison, opening for Mötley Crüe. Michaels may have made his rise with them in the late '80s and early '90s, but since, he created a sort of empire for himself. 

Everyone now knows Michaels from his VH1 show Rock of Love; what they don't all know is how involved he is in raising money for diabetes research and that he has his own Snapple drink flavor. He even auctioned off his guitar and Rock of Love stuff for his Life Rocks Foundation on Saturday to help people who share that same chronic illness with him. 

Though we admit to missing a chunk of the show, there certainly was enough in the time we were there to admire the stage presence, talent, and friendly, good-natured way in which Michaels approaches his solo performances. While the Poison show was flashy in a very throwback manner, Michael's show was more rootsy and down-home. It was kind of like an MTV Unplugged but very plugged in. Just intimate. Everyone onstage was having a blast. The guitarist, a big dude with a decent amount of look, turned in circles for about a minute straight, like a little kid who wants to get that dizzy high. He looked like a little kid. There was an extensive drum solo that the crowd appreciated. 

The place wasn't sold out, but it was full, and everyone was rocking their stuff. Much of his banter replicated our phone conversation. It was well-rehearsed, amusing, and sweet. He couldn't keep his hands off the audience, and not in the pervy way you might imagine. He just shook hands like Manu Chao or President Obama. Very kindly. 

His sound was different too. It was more laid-back, and he seemed more comfortable. He also covered artists like Sublime and played Poison favorites. It was bluesy and just a nice time. Hearing him perform "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" for the second time in a year was kind of amazing. Have to reiterate something said before: best power ballad ever. 

As it turns out, there was a meet-and-greet after the show, but we didn't make the cut. Though we didn't exactly fit the mold of someone lying to get backstage, we still were left out in the cold. The mold, btw, was a woman over the age of 45, boobs pumped up, big blond hair. They were a funny group. One lady even joked about them being old ladies desperately trying to see the younger rock star. 

If Bret Michaels comes back to town, you better bet we'll be there again yelling "I know I coulda saved out love that night, if I'd known what to say..." with tears streaming down our cheeks.

Editor's Notebook
The crowd: Very appreciative, friendly, pumped, and wearing cowboy hats. 

Personal bias: 

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Liz has her master’s degree in religion from Florida State University. She has since written for publications and outlets such as Miami New Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Ocean Drive, the Huffington Post, NBC Miami, Time Out Miami, Insomniac, the Daily Dot, and the Atlantic. Liz spent three years as New Times Broward-Palm Beach’s music editor, was the weekend news editor at Inverse, and is currently the managing editor at Tom Tom Magazine.
Contact: Liz Tracy