(Palace of Auburn Hills, MI - July 7th, 2008)
Jon Bon Jovi spent from 1983 to 1988 establishing his hard rock band Bon Jovi as one of the most popular in the Western world with multi-platinum albums such as 'Slippery When Wet' and 'New Jersey.' Since then - amazingly a full 25 years in total - Bon Jovi the band has sold over 120 million albums worldwide, including 34 million in the United States alone.
Tonight at the sold-out Palace of Auburn Hills in MI, even before the band come out the stage is noticeably devoid of bells and whistles. Dark in look, bleak in appearance for sure, but as the lights go down and Jon Bon Jovi arises from beneath the stage to join his fellow band members, suddenly the multiple stage lights dazzle and the back video screens illuminate to reveal four images of Jon singing the nights opener, 'Lost Highway.'
His band mates, including guitarist Ritchie Sambora, keyboardist David Bryan, and drummer Tico Torres are on fire from the moment they feel the warm spotlight hit them. But, and considering Bon Jovi's vast catalog of hits, it was surprising to hear so many covers spliced into their own songs! But more on that later.
Bon Jovi, performing a majority of their songs from their earlier albums, next sang 'Born To Be My Baby' (the second of five singles from the New Jersey album). "Is everyone having fun tonight?", Jon asks, smiling thru the lyrics, swaggering across the stage, he's definitely in the mood tonight. "Detroit on a Monday night. I gotta know. Are you with me out there?" And as the crowd responds with a rapid amount of noise, Bon Jovi bring us 'You Give Love A Bad Name.'
A lazy-day 'Summertime' (from the 'Lost Highway' CD) is next, complete with clouds and shooting stars punctuating the video screens, it's a flashback to those laid back '60s dayz for sure. "Once upon a time, back in 1983 we recorded this ...", Jon states as the band crank out a rip-roaring version of 'Runaway.' Indeed, Bon Jovi performed a majority of their songs from their earlier albums. And throughout the night not only did the audience provided additional background vocals with each and every song on their set list, but also after their conclusions they received a large ovation - that varied in degrees, if truth be told.
But then comes a segment of the night I just can't wrap my head around as they brought forth covers of both 'Twist & Shout' (Beatles) and 'Start Me Up' (Stones) - the latter complete with Jagger swagger and lip pouts! As Sambora puts on a black cowboy hat (which remained on his head for the rest of the night), Jon thanx everyone and then allows a croaky Sambora to sing an extended version of 'I'll Be There For You.' 'Any Other Day' is then sung - which barely drifts across the minds of the semi-static audience - before Jon announces that he's "happy to be back in Motown" and 'We Got It Going On' is brought to the fore.
Claiming it was time to "crank up the volume," 'It's My Life' is next up, before the bass guitar quickly introduces a passionate 'Keep The Faith.' Sambora again is allowed to step up to the mic - asking for forgiveness for this sinus infected vocals - and sings (off key for the most part) 'These Days.' Although the violin / guitar solo jam at the end with Lorenza Ponce was definitely a major highlight.
The final major highlight of the night happened when a freshly attired Jon appeared out of nowhere on a tiny platform for two songs somewhere close to mid-arena on the floor. An amazing experience for us all, let alone the girls whose seats he was now directly in front of, this overly intimate setting proved to be the perfect moment for Jon to perform '(You Want To) Make A Memory' (from 'Lost Highway') and the beloved classic 'Bed of Roses.'
With all the solo dances and kisses finally done with those lucky ladies, he walked back to the main stage and blasted out 'Have A Nice Day' - complete with red smiley face direct from their album cover high above. 'Who Says You Can't Go Home,' 'Bad Medicine,' and as the back stage rises to form one large video screen, Jon vocally winds everyone up before crashing through the '60s dance classic, 'Shout.' With it ending with Jon looking like an extra from 'Footloose' (re: his pose and his now wind-swept, fluffed up hair and red face), Bon Jovi bring the set to a close by sweeping back into 'Bad Medicine' one last time.
Quickly coming back with the encore songs 'Wanted Dead Or Alive' - culminating with Sambora and Jon front stage with guitar salute in full victory pose - they finally bring the night to a close with the hugely popular, 'Livin' On A Prayer.' "Thank you, Detroit. I hope we see you again soon. Goodnight" are the last words from Jon's mouth as he waves goodbye for one last time before heading back under the stage.
So, if you enjoy Bon Joviís music and have not seen them perform live, I would encourage you to see them live. Because you will not be disappointed. All Jon's fellow musicians - inclusive of those in the touring band - proved equally entertaining as they culled the Bon Jovi catalog together. Providing a very entertaining experience for fans of any age, between the music, the audience participation, and the storytelling this was a show to be seen.
Review by: Russell A. Trunk
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