Bret Michaels raises the bar at MDA’s Ride For Life in Bethlehem.

Pennsylvania native and lead singer of Poison, Bret Michaels, made his return to his home state for a special event. He and his solo band were chosen to be this year’s performing artist headliner at MDA’s Ride For Life event in Bethlehem, taking place just next to the Artsquest building and under the beautiful SteelStacks. Bret is no stranger to charity events and has been a longtime supporter of many of them including MDA and his own Bret Michaels Life Rocks Foundation. Rockstars who are as philanthropic as he is are a rare breed in today’s industry and his participation in this event further cements his legacy as such an individual.

Before the show was set to kick off a special interview was to take place between Bret and Bryson Foster, MDA’s National Goodwill Ambassador for 2012 and 2013. Though the interview was brief it was one of the most heartwarming things we have seen this year, without a doubt. It started off with Bret Michaels and his band making an entrance into the VIP area and bringing Bryson a few gifts of his own to remember the night by; a signature Bret Michaels hat, a shirt, and a bandana just to name a few. Photos were taken in a meet and greet fashion and then Bryson got the chance he was waiting for to ask a great list of questions. His questions were full of life, comical and yet were serious enough to be really great interview questions actually, for 13 years old he really does have a heart and mind of gold.

The real highlight was when Bret invited Bryson to sing “Nothin’ But a Good Time” later that evening during the band’s encore, the smile on Bryson’s face spread to everyone in the room when he heard this good news. Like I said before, rockstars like Bret Michaels are a rare breed because he really made Bryson’s day with all he did at this show. Bret took a few questions from the press in a brief Q and A following Bryson’s interview where he basically just explained that any chance he has to come out and not only put on a show but put on a show for a great cause was a great night in his books. They quickly departed following a few more pictures and it wasn’t even 15 minutes later that he and the band were taking the stage to kick off the real night of rock and roll that the crowd was waiting for.

The band did a quick warm up song as Bret was getting ready backstage but it didn’t last longer than a few minutes and the real concert began immediately following it with a life filled version of longtime Poison favorite, “Talk Dirty to Me.” The crowd was a very reasonable turn out for the event, though I fear that the weather might have stopped any chance of walk ups to the show. The crowd of about 1,400 would remain enthusiastic through out the set, singing along and feeding off Bret’s energy on stage

Bret Michaels and his band pulled out a great number of classic Poison hits early in the night including “Something to Believe In” and “Unskinny Bop.” The cover songs  that made an appearance were also a fun addition because it wouldn’t be true a rock n’ roll concert without a cranked up cover of “Sweet Home Alabama” to get things started early in the night. But then, things took a slight turn for the chaotic as the skies opened up and a downpour like no other began. The crowd was tough, the majority of them stuck it out in the pouring, cold rain until the bitter end but slowly people did begin to leave either out of frustration or just exhaustion. Bret Michaels himself even stepped out to the far part of the stage so he could join the crowd in the rain as he play “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn.” There was a lot of wet and soggy leather in the crowd but everyone who remained following the downpour had a smile on their face because they knew they were a part of a magical evening.

Bret Michaels was a perfect choice this event, no questions asked. He’s personality and lifestyle fits the MDA Ride For Life image and of course he puts on one great show, seriously he could have played all night and I don’t think anyone in the crowd would have cared (unless it rained some more). His solo band is great too, they play all the tracks as we expect them to be heard but bring their own flair and signature sounds when it is called for. It might not be Poison but if you close your eyes you could never tell the difference honestly.

Bret Michaels vocals were solid through out the night which is impressive because he moves around the stage like he isn’t a day past 30. I would imagine he still sounds as great as he did back in the 80’s and 90’s but I personally like to think that he was only started sounding this great in the past decade since he has started taking care of himself more. He is forced to maintain a strict lifestyle being a Type 1 Diabetic that ultimately keeps him in better shape and makes him a better performer, not to mention a great inspiration to anyone out there who is battling like he is. He jumped across the stage so many times that many rockstars even half his age couldn’t keep up with him in all honesty.

The night ended as inspiring as it began with Bryson Foster taking the stage to sing along side Bret Michaels for an epic finale on “Nothin’ But a Good Time.” The perfect ending to a great evening all for a cause. We cover a lot of shows in the Lehigh Valley and Pennsylvania but very rarely do we see one put together for such a great cause and executed so greatly. We hope Bret Michaels will return to the Valley soon and look forward to seeing if MDA can top this year’s great event. Bret Michaels has raised the bar for MDA and it is safe to say that everyone had a “good time” in the process.

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