Headline singer to give Bethlehem MDA fund-raiser ‘Something to Believe In’

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Headline singer to give Bethlehem MDA fund-raiser ‘Something to Believe In’

Posted on: April 23rd, 2014 by tommyj

Click here to view original web page at www.mcall.com

A rock singer who led a multi-platinum-selling band in the 1980s and ’90s and later had solo success as well will play Levitt Pavilion at SteelStacks in Bethlehem next month, but the audience won’t be just raising its fists for her music. It will be raising funds for a cause.

Bret Michaels, who led the band Poison to six gold- and platinum-selling albums 1986-96 and two gold-selling albums since, and also had success as a solo singer and television personality, will perform at 7 p.m. May 3 as headliner at the 27th annual MDA Ride for Life event at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.

The event is designed for people taking part in the May 3-4 Ride For Life, in which participants raise funds through pledges, donations, sales and other activities. Anyone can become a participant; details are on the website http://www.rideforlife.org or by calling the local MDA office at 610-557-4403.

Admission tickets for the two-day event are available for $40, with those under age 16 admitted free when accompanied by an adult Ride for Life participant.

It was not immediately clear whether there will be admission to the concert only. Tickets were sold to last year’s MDA Ride for Life concert by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

In addition to the concert, there will be food, games, other entertainment and auction and, of course, motorcycle rides. The second day will start with a motorcycle parade.

Michaels, a native of Butler, Pa., gained fame as the lead vocalist of the glam metal band Poison, which in 1986 released its debut album, "Look What the Cat Dragged In." That disc sold triple-platinum, peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s albums chart, and had the Top 10 hit "Talk Dirty to Me."

The group’s sophomore disc, "Open Up and Say… Ahh!," sold 5 million copies, hit No. 2 and had the Top 10 hits "Fallen Angel," "Your Mama Don’t Dance," "Nothin’ but a Good Time" and the chart-topping "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." The last two songs went gold.

Its third album, "Flesh & Blood," went triple platinum, with the hits "Unskinny Bop" and "Something to Believe In." In all, the band has sold nearly 20 million albums.

Michaels has released seven solo albums.

In addition, he has appeared in several movies and TV shows, including as a judge on the talent show "Nashville Star" and as star of the hit VH1 reality show "Rock of Love with Bret Michaels." He won NBC‘s reality show "Celebrity Apprentice" in 2010.

In 2010, Michaels had a brain hemorrhage and had surgery for a hole in his heart, but has recovered.

Micahels played Allentown’s Crocodile Rock Café in 2010 and Easton’s State Theatre in 2011, and Poison played in 2008.


For better or worse, the long-term viability of most musical acts depends on the ability to adapt and change.

The screamo genre might have been great for the angst-y early 2000s, but it hasn’t aged particularly well. So for purveyors of the musical style, change was needed.

Both Taking Back Sunday and The Used, who played Saturday at Sands Bethlehem Event Center, have changed for the better on albums they’ve released in the past two months.

But the surprise in the concert was how the bands have adapted their old material, as well.

From the start of its too-short 63-minute set, Taking Back Sunday showed how it has aged its musical approach to more punk and straight-forward rock and roll – both on songs from its new disc "Happiness Is" such as the ragged and punky "Stood a Chance" and its first single, 2002’s "Timberwolves at New Jersey."

On the latter, the echoed second voice that was the band’s trademark now sounded more like a punk chorus. Even mid-period songs such as "Liar (It Takes One to Know One") sounded very punk as it barreled forward. And it was very good.

The band, which restored its classic lineup four years ago, sounded refreshed and vital – especially drummer Mark O’Connell, whose full-throttle pounding seemed to drive the songs. But the other band members also seemed energized, and in perpetual motion, with little or no break between songs.

Singer Adam Lazzara acknowledged the damned-the-torpedoes speed, gasping his first words to the sold-out crowd of 3,500 after the third song: "Whew – good evening ladies and gentlemen."

But Taking Back Sunday also showed perhaps a downside to screamo: By the fourth song, "Faith (When I Let You Down)," Lazzara’s voice was very obviously strained, and he was croaking out the lyrics. Hopefully, at just 32, Lazzara’s voice was only temporarily strained.

On "Number Five with a Bullet" it was rough and badly off-key. But the band was better than ever. Same on "What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost" and without so much as a beat between them, on its breakthrough song, "A Decade Under the Influence."

That song was still great, and Lazzara was jumping and spinning, but he was clearly struggling vocally – his singing sometimes a yodel.

In all, the band played four songs from its new album, and they were among the best of the night. "Beat Up Car" was at full throttle, the new single "Flicker Fade," which Lazzara introduced as a love song, was strong.

And on "Better Homes and Gardens," which Lazzara called his favorite Taking Back Sunday song ever, he unleashed his intensity. The echoed vocals, ironically, made the song classic Taking Back Sunday.

But the band saved most of its classic material for the end. "You’re So Last Summer" was chanty and soaring, with lots of energy. Lazzara sang "Error: Operation" through a distortion mic, and O’Connell’s beats were fast, tight and hard.

It closed with its two best-loved songs. "Cute Without the E (Cut From the Team)" was far more punk – at damned-the-torpedoes speed, as Lazzara swung his mic cord around his neck, and then the thundering "MakeDamnSure," which was really ragged – and, ironically, great because of it – as Lazzara left everything he had on stage.

Perhaps it was good, then, that Taking Back Sunday didn’t play an encore – Lazzara telling the crowd it had overshot its scheduled stop time.

Co-headliner The Used, ironically, played just two songs from its new disc in its 11-song, its hourlong set. It opened with its new single "Cry," which was straight-forward rock, and later played "Revolution," which, ironically, was the night’s most screamo song and one of the weakest.

"Take It Away" also was more screamo, though its title-phrase chorus was more hooligan shouts.

The crowd seemed more into The Used’s classic material anyway, cheering the intro to "Listening" and waving its arms to the beat. It sang along loudly (an began crowd-surfing) on "The Taste of Ink," and lead singer Bert McCracken – looking svelte and shorn (except for a long Mohawk) – had it song the chorus of the good "I Caught Fire."

Before "Pretty Handsome Awkward," McCracken became the Moses of mosh – actually dividing the packed crowd down the middle like the biblical Red Sea parting, then instructing the two sides to run at each other.

The Used closed its set with what McCracken called "the greatest song ever f—king written," its first single, "A Box of Sharp Objects," which started with an intro of "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

But The Used’s best songs were the (slightly) slower and (slightly) gentler "All That I’ve Got" – on which the band paused dramatically mid-song – and the slow, acoustic "On My Own" from its debut album, which McCracken sang in a high voice – surprisingly preserved after years of scream-singing.

The crowd seemed into it, as well – holding aloft growing cell phones.

Talk about adapting screamo.

John.moser@mcall.com

610-820-6722


A Grammy Award-winning, platinum-selling soul singer will perform at Sands Bethlehem Event Center, it was just announced.

Maxwell, who has seen all four of his albums go platinum and had a dozen Top 40 songs on Billboard’s R&B chart, will play at the center at 8 p.m. July 16 as part of a 35-date "Summer Soulstice" tour, it was announced.

Tickets, for which prices have not been announced, will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at http://www.sandseventcenter.com, http://www.ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000.

Maxwell is best known for his gold 1999 song "Fortunate," which topped the R&B chart and went Top 5 on the overall Billboard chart. He broke through with 1996’s "Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)," which went to No. 2 on the Urban Adult Contemporary chart.

His 2009 "Pretty Wings" also went gold and topped the R&B chart.

His 1996 debut album "Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite," went double platinum and broke the Top 40. His 1998 album "Embrya" hit No. 3, and 2001’s "Now" topped both the R&B and overall Billboard chart.

He took an eight-year hiatus before returning with 2009’s "BLACKsummers’night," which also went to No. 1. That is his most recent album.

His latest single, "Fire We Make (with Alicia Keys)," released in March, topped the Urban Adult Contemporary Chart.

He’s been nominated for a dozen Grammy Awards, and won two, for 2010: Best R&B Album for "BLACKsummers’night" and Outstanding Male Artist, both in 2010.

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