March 10, 2008

Shot Through The Heart

On March 5th, I was lucky enough to get a ticket to Bon Jovi's Lost Highway Tour in Pittsburgh, and I'm so glad that I did! They really put on a great show, and of the 30-some big-scale concerts I've seen, it was definitely one of the best! They were so full of energy, as was the crowd, and their set list didn't fail to disappoint. They played mainly fast/audience-participation friendly songs; my favorites included "You Give Love A Bad Name," "Raise Your Hands," "It's My Life," "Have A Nice Day," and of course, "Livin' On A Prayer." And everyone's favorite "4th place" American Idol, Chris Daughtry, opened the show with his band [the biggest-selling rock band of 2007, Daughtry]. They were awesome as well! So, if you have a chance to experience this tour, please do so!

Here's a review from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

Jon Bon Jovi never needed the same caliber of song as elder arena rockers like Springsteen, Seger or Petty. He had that great hair and a million-dollar smile.

Twenty-five years into his career, he still does, as demonstrated Wednesday night in the first of two shows in 10 days at the Mellon Arena. Bon Jovi, in black leather jacket and black jeans, delivered all the chills and thrills of an arena spectacle while sparing everyone the burden of having to think. Message boards will not be lighting up today with folks complaining that he got "all heavy on us."

The purity of Bon Jovi is oversized, not-overly-original rock songs about love and faith with sing-song choruses and wanky, time-tested licks from Richie Sambora. They hit the stage with the title track to "Lost Highway," a fiddle slicing through the heartland rocker. What's up with both Jersey boys trying to sound like John Mellencamp these days?

With hits to spare, they quickly time-warped back to two blockbusters: the anthemic "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Runaway," complete with the rinky-dink New Wave keyboards. From there they jumped in and out of hair-metal hits ("Bad Medicine," "Livin' on a Prayer"), faux-cowboy songs ("Blaze of Glory" and "Wanted Dead or Alive") and latter departures ("(You Want To) Make a Memory").

There was such palpable love flowing between Bon Jovi and screaming fans of all ages, you had to assume that if he had time, he would have sat down and bought each and every one of them a beer (a Coke for the teenagers). By contrast, even Springsteen, the ultimate Everyman, kind of seems like he has somewhere else to be.

For the ballad "Bed of Roses," the star, having changed into a blood-red shirt, was on a small stage in the crowd, and if he wasn't singing to the few nearby fans with genuine love, then he's a better actor than anyone thought. It was about as touching as concert shtick can get.

At 46, Bon Jovi doesn't reach for those shrill notes like he once did, and that's a plus. He was in strong voice and his energy never lagged, from "Lost Highway" to the finale of "I Love This Town." Adding to the party vibe, he even tossed bits of "Shout" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash" into the middle of the set.

Sambora got his moment in the spotlight on the soaring "I'll Be There for You," coming off like Stevie Ray Vaughan meets Celine Dion.

Standing to the side of the stage was Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes," apparently doing an investigative piece on how far you can get on good looks, hooks and charm.

Opening the show was Daughtry of "American Idol" fame. People like to slag on the Idols, but Daughtry is an authentic take-off of bands like Nickelback and Three Doors Down. His backing musicians are grungy and muscular, just like him, and he played the tormented rocker to perfection on songs like "It's Not Over" and the monster hit "Home."

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