Opening Night Of “Parti-Gras” Delivers As Advertised At Pine Knob

Concert Review
Bret Michaels
Parti Gras
Night Ranger
Jefferson Starship
Pine Knob Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI
Thursday July 13, 2023
Review: Joseph Suto
Photos: Jenipher Nyari

Bret Michaels had a vision. To take a package on the road with nothing but hits and make it an all night rock n roll party. One of the first calls he made was to Night Ranger who have a deep catalog of hits and are currently celebrating their 40th anniversary. Another invitation went out to Jefferson Starship. He then thought what can he do to enhance his show to add more guests and friends. Well he dialed up Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath who answered the phone and former Journey/Tall Stories singer Steve Augeri. What a brilliant idea. From the time the fans got out of their vehicles to enter Pine Knob it was a rock roll atmosphere amplified.

Michaels could not have picked a finer venue to kick the tour off from. He is no stranger to the venue whether it is back under it’s best known name of Pine Knob or it’s previous name of DTE, he has graced the stage eighteen times. Poison set the all-time beer sales record at the venue. There is always something magical about playing the storied venue which Michaels made mention of several times. It was clear how amped up Michaels was. He was like a kid in a candy store and had a smile on his face the entire night.

Michaels band kicked things off with one of Poison’s biggest as guitarist Pete Evick tore into those familiar chords of “Talk Dirty To Me”, you just knew you were in for a treat. Other highlights included “Ride The Wind” and a stellar version of “Something To Believe In”. I always said there is something special about the latter being played outdoors at an amphitheater in the thick of a gorgeous summer night.

Mark McGrath came out for a pair of Sugar Ray’s classic gems in “Every Morning” and “Fly”. He would also come out later on to sing with Michaels on the Sublime classic “What I Got”. Steve Augeri came out twice to sing a pair of Journey songs. For the final song of the night a stomping cover of the Skynyrd anchor “Sweet Home Alabama” as all the artists on the bill came out to jam and sing along. It truly was nothing but a damn good time.

A lot of hard work went into delivering a show of this caliber. From the band’s crew to the local crews and all the band’s themselves it seemed to be a labor of love. Many do not realize all the hard work and dedication that goes into a show like this. The end result of seeing the crowd thoroughly enjoying themselves was well deserved. With Poison idle until 2025, I hope Michaels keeps this Parti-Gras going and perhaps a bigger tour next year. He did say he would like to kick it off at Pine Knob again. One can hope.

Set Lists

Bret Michaels

Talk Dirty To Me
Ride The Wind
Your Mama Don’t Dance
Every Morning (Mark McGrath)
Fly (Mark McGrath)
Something To Believe In
Unskinny Bop
Separate Ways (Steve Augeri)
Any Way You Want It (Steve Augeri)
Every Rose Has It’s Thorn
What I Got (w/ Mark McGrath)
Faithfully (Steve Augeri)
Don’t Stop Believing (Steve Augeri)
Nothing But A Good Time
Sweet Home Alabama (everyone)

Night Ranger hit the stage to their anthem “(You Can Still) Rock In America” and then delivered a solid set of classics from their catalog. They also played a pair of Damn Yankees songs. Of course bassist Jack Blades was a member of that supergroup that lasted a few years before disbanding. The band ended strong with “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” as well as the band’s highest charting single “Sister Christian” which peaked at #5. The band is sounding better than ever with original members guitarist Brad Gillis and drummer Kelly Keagy. Complimenting the lineup were guitarist Keri Kelli and keyboardist Eric Levy.

It is hard to believe Night Ranger was never on any of the big Poison tours over the recent years. They are a perfect fit as evidenced by their short be sweet set. Michaels did a great job selecting them to be on the bill as not only did they deliver but they also deserve all the accolades a tour like this can bring to them.

Night Ranger

You Can Still Rock In America
Coming Of Age
Sentimental Street
Night Ranger
High Enough
When You Close Your Eyes
Don’t Tell Me You Love Me
Sister Christian

Jefferson Starship has had a long extensive history. Currently the band is comprised of vocalist/guitarist Cathy Richardson, vocalist David Freiberg, guitarist Jude Gold, keyboardist Chris Smith and drummer Donny Baldwin. Oddly enough the band’s setlist left many scratching their heads. Freiberg originally left the band over the creative differences when Starship was formed out of the ashes of Jefferson Starship. Yet here these guys were playing songs such as “Sara, “We Built This City” and even “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”. Only Baldwin played with Starship during the MTV big hit era. One would figure them to focus on the earlier hits of the catalog such as “Miracles” and “Count On Me”. They did however play “Jane” which Freiberg had a huge part in writing the song. “Find Your Way Back” served as a great opener. The old Jefferson Airplane classic “Somebody To Love” closed out the bands brief 30-minute set. Despite the choice of set list I will say the band sounded very good and I was amazed at how at 84 years old that Freiberg can still perform at the high level he did. He was fantastic.

Jefferson Starship

Find Your Way Back
Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now
We Built This City
Somebody To Love

About Joseph Suto

Location: Buffalo, NY Photographer/Reviewer
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