But for a slight limp in his step, this could have been any Bret Michaels show. Instead, it was the performance that for a time he feared would never be, a high-energy comeback from a brain hemorrhage and small warning stroke.
"I've got a little bitty hitch in my left giddy up, but I think we'll be all right," Michaels, 47, told the 1,400 fans Friday night at the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi, Miss. "It's an awesome feeling, I'm glad to be here."
And the audience responded in kind, cheering him through '80s Poison hits that included "Talk Dirty to Me" and "Unskinny Bop" and the power ballad "Every Rose Has Its Thorn."
Also on hand were cameras for his upcoming VH1 reality show Bret Michaels: Life as I know it.
Donna Galloway was the first fan in line for the concert at 8 a.m. – the third time she watched Michaels perform at the Hard Rock and a fan since the beginning.
"I just want to see how Bret's doing," she said. "I'm worried about his health more than the concert, but I've always loved him."
Michaels appeared to show no serious effects of his health problems or his recent busy schedule that included winning Celebrity Apprentice and performing on the American Idol finale. In fact, it was his drummer Chuck Fanslau who found the show "exhausting."
"We had a month and a half off of work so it wears us out," he says, "but it's exhilarating at the same time."
Reporting by LAUREN ZIMMERMAN and LAUREN TULLOS