Bon Jovi + The Enemy @ Aston Villa Football Ground – Sunday 9th June, 2013.


Review by Vee de Barre

It feels a bit like clockwork. Bon Jovi release another album. Several months later, they tour the UK, packing out stadiums up and down the country. Put on a solid performance. Move onto the next stadium. Record an album. Do another tour. So far, so predictable. Until the news came that Richie Sambora was out of the tour. Phil X would be replacing him. Now we have something interesting. Someone new to shake things up. Could he fill Richie’s shoes? Or maybe bring his own pair?

Support comes in the form of The Enemy. I’ll state right now: I only managed to catch the final song. In a huge stadium, they seemed dwarfed, even awkward. Yet they managed to spark good interest from the crowd. Certainly not one to write off based on a performance in such a huge arena.

ZZ230513BONJOVI-4020329Let’s be very honest with ourselves here. Bon Jovi’s recent musical efforts have been dire. And that is putting it politely. There is an audible ‘oh no’ when Jovi’s 3 hour – yes, 3 hour – set starts with a track from their recent album, What About Now. ‘That’s What the Water Made Me’ is one of the standard issue pop/rock songs that Jon and crew churn out and is instantly forgettable. Luckily for us, he soon abandons any pretence of promoting the album and launches into a series of greatest hits that pleases the crowd, and gets people singing along.

The stage itself is done like a big blue Cadillac. It’s quite effective, the audience taken on a ride through the ups and downs of Bon Jovi – the downs generally coming when they stray into newer material. However, much of the later stuff has been reduced to just one song. That draws no complaints from me. Except, that is, the inclusion of ‘Captain Crash’ from 2000’s Crush. It is the weakest song on the set list, and the fact that Jovi insist on playing it at most of their concerts shows a rare misstep for the usually polished Jon.

Polished. Everything about Bon Jovi is polished. From Jon’s glaringly white teeth, right down to the performance. There are no errors, no slip ups. Someone harsher than myself would possibly also add ‘no personality’. Jon and the band have done this sort of thing a million times. Phil X fits in like he has been in the band for years. He stands there, and he does his job, just as Jon would want. And Jon’s call, asking the audience ‘are you with me tonight?’ is as clichéd as his demand to ‘hear you scream.’ Try not to look for a line of female fans, queuing to offer to let Jon hear them scream, and doing as he requests in ‘giving it’ to him.

Yet, despite everything, Bon Jovi are brilliant at what they do. They deliver great, solid performances, and no one goes home disappointed. The second encore sees Jon asking what the audience want to hear. Perhaps it’s inevitable that they demand one of the band’s biggest hits – ‘Always.’

It is so very, very easy to be cynical about Bon Jovi. Yet it is hard not to get caught up, when the band plays ‘Bed of Roses.’ Hearing an entire arena singing that song, and seeing grown men linked together and swaying, is electric. No matter what new material Jovi come out with, their performances don’t leave anyone disappointed.

‘I’ve seen a million faces, and I’ve rocked them all.’ Yes. Yes, you have.



1. That’s What the Water Made Me
2. You Give Love a Bad Name
3. Born to be My Baby
4. Raise Your Hands
5. Lost Highway
6. Runaway
7. It’s My Life
8. Because We Can
9. What About Now
10. We’ve Got It Going On
11. Keep the Faith
12. Amen
13. Bed of Roses
14. Captain Crash
15. We Weren’t Born to Follow
16. Who Says You Can’t Go Home
17. Rockin’ All Over the World
18. Bad Medicine
19. Old Time Rock and Roll
20. Bad Medicine [reprise]

Encore 1:
21. Dry County
22. Wanted Dead or Alive
23. In These Arms
24. Livin’ On A Prayer

Encore 2:
25. Always
26. Blood on Blood


  1. you’ve missed ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead’, ‘Have A Nice Day’ and ‘Happy Now’ from the set list

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