"This is going to be the best aerobic workout you get all year long," shouts Bon Jovi. Well, maybe the charismatic frontman of one of the '80s biggest blue-collar acts -- now seeing a resurgence in popularity thanks to the multi-platinum album Crush -- is getting an aerobic workout, hopping from leg to leg, fists pumping the air, arms flying open for hugs (or are they Christ poses?). Everyone else in the capacity house is shoulder to shoulder with no room to move.
Is it the extended VH1 "Behind the Music" intro played on the video backdrop that has the crowd crying out? Probably not. Is it the video cameras panning the audience that incite their shouts? Maybe. Or is it Bon Jovi's tight tarnished gold leather pants that has the audience all worked up? As my friend leaned over to tell me, "Make sure you mention he's still got a great ass." The ladies have spoken.
Actually, the entire band still looks good, and it seems like every one of them is wearing at least one metallic piece of clothing (which is, on stage, the sign of a rock star; though, when worn by someone in the audience, it's the sign of a sad, sad man). They may be pushing 40 and had a bit of a slump in the mid-'90s, but Bon Jovi are rock stars. You can tell by the four Marshall amps on stage (though only two are on), the two bass amps, the double bass drums. That's assuming, of course, you couldn't tell by the opening video tracking the band as it struts through the tunnels of the building, emerging to voluminous adoration.
Without a word, seconds after appearing, the band launch into "One Wild Night" off of Crush. They're not too loud, considering the amount of sound reinforcement they're sporting, and the sound is crisp and well mixed. For a second, I worry: Will we be treated to a night solely meant to promote new songs? Of course not. The band know better, and suddenly it's 1986 again: "You Give Love a Bad Name," and the guy two rows behind me in the Def Leppard shirt doesn't seem out of place. Much.
Bon Jovi continue with "It's My Life," the anthemic first single off Crush. It's easily one of Bon Jovi's best and reprises the robotic talkbox wails that made the opening to "Livin' on a Prayer" (soon to follow) so memorable. The crowd knows almost every word and screams for each of Richie Sambora's guitar solos. And that's a lot of screaming. During "Born to be My Baby," a boyfriend to my left slips a security guard a president to let his girl run up front. She's rewarded later by appearing bouncing on the video screen.
A few words are staggered here and there, but for the most part Bon Jovi play crowd-pleasing album cuts the way the crowd knows and wants them. The band drops in bits of the Rolling Stones and at one point, like a big scary version of Animal House, play a snippet of the Isley Brothers' "Shout."
Well, you're saying, so far I'm not mad I missed it. They didn't play my favorite song. Wrong, they played your favorite song as well. They played "Bad Medicine," "Blaze of Glory" and "Wanted Dead or Alive." They played "Lay Your Hands on Me," "Keep the Faith" and "Just Older." They played even more and, through it all, somehow their hair stayed in place. Amazing.
Jon Bon Jovi is seen by some as an actor now, but if it was all an act, it did what acting is meant to do: Entertain thoroughly.
ooooohhhh, I'm so excited!! I can't wait to see them together!
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