Despite the tattoos, leather vests and enough sneers to make Jack Nicholson whimper, Poison is still heavy metal's version of the Archies -- honey, ah sugar, sugar. At Capital Centre on Tuesday night, the L.A. glam-slam band tried desperately to sound baaaad, but excruciating volume levels and interminable solos couldn't disguise what most metal purists have known all along -- these fellows are puff-heads, hack musicians masquerading as rock stars, mousse-monsters hiding behind a wall of distortion and prerecorded backing vocals.
It's too bad that its live shows are such noise fests, since Poison is capable of creating some perfectly mindless pop-rock in the studio. Sure, "Unskinny Bop" is one of the dumbest rock songs ever written , but it'shard trying not to hum it after one listen. Other songs, such as "Fallen Angel" and "I Want Action," were mixed in the same crucible: repetitive, major-chord progressions, slappy/clappy drum beats and lyrics such as "I want action, tonight. Satisfaction, tonight." That kind of rhymes.
But just when the audience got boppin' in the aisles, Poison committed rock sins for which there are no antidotes: The band killed the dancing with the overwrought, overamplified Dreaded Solos. Immediately after "I Want Action," drummer Rikki Rockett slapped his kit for 10 years, and then C.C. DeVille turned up the volume on his guitar for a solo that was sloppy in its execution and unintentionally comic in its presentation. He played like Eddie Van Halen with mittens on.
Somewhere in the maelstrom, Poison had some sweet melodies, and it sometimes came very close to being fun. But hearing this band live is like getting a candy cane shoved into your eardrum.