Poison remembers its roots with free concert


What began as a seemingly innocuous conversation between Jill Kadron, a bar maid at Hammerjacks, and friend Bret MichaelsMichaels, the lead singer for the rock band Poison, finally came to fruition last night at Hammerjacks.

Three weeks ago in Norfolk, Va., Kadron was visiting Michaels and the band on the road on their "Flesh and Blood" tour, and made a joke about the band showing up at her place of employment and playing a few songs for old-times' sake.

Just three years ago, when Poison was an up-and-coming club act from Harrisburg, Pa., the band frequented Hammerjacks quite often and it's where Kadron met Michaels and guitarist C.C. DeVille. In fact, Kadron and DeVille are so close that everyone around the bar calls her "Jill DeVille."

"I said it sounded like a great idea and I promised we'd go through with it," Michaels said after last night's show, which actually stretched into the early morning. "I told her to do what was necessary on her end at Hammerjacks and I'd make the rest of the arrangements through our management."

But despite her friendship with the band, Kadron admits, "I really thought it was beer talk. I didn't think he'd actually do it."

Sure enough, club owner Louis Principio got a call the following week and WIYY-FM (98 Rock) got permission to distribute the 1,500 free tickets and did so in a crazy, free-for-all, four-location frenzy yesterday afternoon.

As one insider said, "On its own level, this thing was like the Rolling Stones' shows in 1981."

So the band that along with Warrant will play for 15,000 tonight at the Capital Centre, stepped on stage in a much more intimate setting last night at Hammerjacks.

The show was obviously abbreviated -- Poison played just nine songs -- but "short and sweet" would best describe the streamlined set.

The band hammed it up for the overflow crowd, as Michaels alluded to the band's history in the club several times to roaring approval.

In addition to "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," "Unskinny Bop," and "Talk Dirty To Me," the highlight of the set was a revved-up version of the Kiss classic, "Strutter," which drummer Rikki Rockett said was extra special.

"The best part about the show was that we played some songs that aren't in our regular set," Rockett said. "If we would have played our normal songs it would have been more like work. This was more like an impromptu jam session that they just happened to distribute tickets for."

For many in the hard rock set, it was the social event of the year, with members of Warrant, Bango Tango, Britney Fox and countless local bands watching from the audience.

"We always got treated well when we were here and we wanted to give something back -- to the club, to the radio station, to our friends and to the fans," Michaels said. "It worked out great. We had a nice, loose show for a lot of people who really wanted to see something special."

"It was a great idea but if Jill didn't bring up the idea joking around a couple of weeks ago it would have never happened."

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