Review by Angelina Pelova
These days, when downloads have taken over the music market and many bands choose to play it safe by performing at festivals rather than touring, there aren’t too many bands that can pull off arena gigs, let alone worldwide stadium tours. Bon Jovi is one of those few bands. “Those huge shows, tens of thousands of people all together as one, that’s what we do”, says Jon Bon Jovi whose band took the UK by storm this month with their first tour here since 2013.
Bon Jovi rocked Wembley 13 years after their last gig, Liverpool Anfield Stadium saw their first concert since 1986, and Ricoh Arena Coventry – first gig since 2008. They stopped by as part of their gigantic “This House Is Not For Sale” world tour. The UK was privileged to host three massive concerts, as opposed to other European countries where the band staged one performance only. After the UK, the tour continues in Germany and farther across Europe.
To say that the Coventry concert was a huge success would be an understatement. This was one of those experiences you can never forget, which was facilitated greatly by the event organisers. They did a brilliant job in helping everything go smoothly, with all nitty-gritty details ironed out (car parking, all the necessary facilities, queuing): none of them caused stress or major delays. Getting in was such a seamless process that it was hard to believe there was a massive concert starting soon. It wasn’t until the end of the show when the endless streams of people leaving the arena and queues of cars indicated that something significant was going on at Ricoh.
The arena gathered friendly crowds of fans across all ages, and the usual eclectic mix of all sort of rock t-shirts saw people exchanging smiles and thumbs up. The atmosphere in expectation of the start of the show was happy and warm, which was a great place to be. During the whole concert, the unison between band and crowd was fantastic. Younger generation fans demonstrated that Bon Jovi’s legacy lives on, singing along their recent releases, which older generation fans (such as the writer of this review) may not have necessarily been very familiar with. It was evident that this is a band with a long history and at the same time reassuring that their old classics (dating back to the first album of 1984) were appreciated by fans of all ages.
Although the tour is in support of the Bon Jovi’s latest album, the setlist did not place any special emphasis on it, with only three out of 20 songs featured. The band was ready with a repertoire consisting of around 95 to choose from, and they were free to change them up as desired on any night. The onset of the Coventry gig could not have been any better, with three of their bombastic hits: ‘You Give Love a Bad Name’, ‘Raise Your Hands’ (both from the album “Slippery When Wet”) and ‘Born to Be My Baby’ (from “New Jersey”). The selection of songs was perfect, mixing up old favourites with more recent songs, all of them performed with endless energy and perfect synchronisation between the band members.
For someone not familiar with the recent changes in the band crew, it would not have been evident that any of them are (relatively) new members, namely lead guitarist Phil X, and multi-instrumentalist Everett Bradley. Together, they all delivered the well-known Bon Jovi’s signature sound, their performance being as close to the original lineup as it has ever been. Jon’s words could not be truer: “We’ve become a new, rejuvenated Bon Jovi. A refreshed line up that kills every night. We sound better than ever and we’re enjoying every minute. We are out there as a band, feeding off each other and the fans, having the time of our lives all over again.”
The originals, David Bryan and Tico Torres, true legends, somehow showed no signs of aging. Jon, the heart of the show, was bursting with energy, although his words in ‘God Bless This Mess’ sounded a bit sad: “My voice is shot, I’m going grey, my muscles all ache”… Yet, he delivered a first class performance. Sign of a great talent: an intense long tour like this must be extremely hard to pull off, unless you have a body and vocal cords of steel. He was amazingly warm and interactive with the audience; none of his stage behaviour showed signs of big-headedness, so it comes as no surprise that the crowd appeared to adore him.
In April last year, Bon Jovi got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This tour celebrates their success and fans’ appreciation, focusing on the music that made them a massive band with over 130 million record sales.
The only thing slightly clouding the otherwise perfect night was the absence of one of Bon Jovi’s original members, Richie Sambora. The pang of missing him was clear when ‘Wanted Dead of Alive’ started… But hey, life goes on, the band has survived its upheavals and hard times, coming out stronger than ever.
Huge words of appreciation must also be said about the visual effects and lighting show. The stage was an absolute pleasure to watch, and also a very interesting one. It was obvious that a lot of thought, effort and professionalism was employed into the visual side of the show. This was one of the many reasons why the twenty songs seemed to have been sang in a heartbeat, and the gig was over before you knew it. A night to remember for everyone who dedicated their time to this unforgettable show.
1. You Give Love a Bad Name
2. Raise Your Hands
3. Born to Be My Baby
4. This House Is Not for Sale
5. Roller Coaster
6. Lost Highway
7. We Weren’t Born to Follow
8. We Got It Goin’ On
9. Have a Nice Day
10. Keep the Faith
11. I’ll Be There for You
12. It’s My Life
13. God Bless This Mess
14. Wanted Dead or Alive
15. Lay Your Hands on Me
16. Captain Crash & the Beauty Queen From Mars
17. I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
18. Bad Medicine
2. Livin’ on a Prayer