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Pop Music Review

Poison Puts the Rock in Raucous at Universal Fest

June 19, 1999|SANDY MASUO

As reassuring as it is to know that bands such as Rage Against the Machine andMarilyn Manson are educating the music world about politics and satire, there are times when all that really matters is getting your rocks off. Thursday was one of those times for the crowd that packed the Universal Amphitheatre to indulge in nearly five hours of raucous pop-metal.

With bubble-gum pop and electronic music hogging much of the fun in music these days, it's easy to forget that rock 'n' roll is about having a good time too. There may have been less hair thrashing onstage and off, and most of the smoke in the air was machine-made, but the party vibe was running high by the time the lights came up.

Of the many "hair bands" that rose to popularity in the '80s, Poison produced better material than most, and the group's sassy, tongue-in-cheek attitude gave such tunes as "Talk Dirty to Me" and "Unskinny Bop" a wry charm. Nothing much has changed. The group's hourlong set brimmed with pyrotechnics and amusing stage antics--from frontman Bret Michaels' affable strutting to ax-man C.C. DeVille's wacky posturing.

But beyond all the spectacle, the musicians were in fine form, gleefully unleashing barrage after barrage of irresistibly catchy dance pop on steroids. With only a couple of sensitive interludes to break up the pace--notably "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," which became a veritable love feast when the swaying, lighter-wielding audience joined in--Poison barreled through its snappy set with unrelenting energy and sharp playing.

Sharing the bill were L.A. Guns, Great White, which hammered out a spry assortment of Stones-inflected grooves, and Ratt, whose vigorous set focused more on grinding than grooving and bopping.

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