Photos by Rob Fuzesi
Bon Jovi released their 11th studio album, “The Circle,” this past November and are currently supporting the album with a massive 5½-month world tour. This is the largest tour they have gone on since the “New Jersey” tour, and by its conclusion they will have played 135 shows in 30 countries. I planned to catch one of the shows in Anaheim and the Staples show in Los Angeles. First was Anaheim…
Bon Jovi – Honda Center – 2/26/2010
After a long and tedious drive, I ran (literally) into the Honda Center just in time to see Bon Jovi play “Get Ready” for the first time in 25 years. I couldn’t believe my ears! It sounded just as good as it did in 1984. I actually thought it was the first song of their set, and was disappointed to find out later that I had missed “Blood on Blood,” “We Weren’t Born to Follow,” and “You Give Love a Bad Name.” I’ve seen Bon Jovi almost 25 times and this was the first time that I have EVER been late! I am getting there extra early for the Staples show. (I may even catch some of Dashboard Confessional.)
After “Get Ready,” Bon Jovi kicked into “Born to Be My Baby,” and I know every girl in there was wishing he was singing just to her. Before starting new song “When We Were Beautiful” Jon Bon Jovi said, “Let’s create a WE decade instead of a ME decade.” Then they played another new song, which they have a video for, called “Superman.” The video screens accompanied the song; showing powerful images of people who have volunteered to help others.
Somewhere along their journey, Bon Jovi figured out the perfect formula for a live show, and it worked. Jon has stage presence, moves, and ability like no other. He makes sure that every single person, from the front to the back, enjoys their Bon Jovi experience. Mr. Bluesman Richie Sambora demonstrates his aptitude and soulfulness and always wows fans when he pulls out his double-neck guitar. Drummer Tico Torres holds down the beat and keeps everyone grounded. It’s always amazing to watch the ambidextrous David Bryan play multiple keyboards at once, and bass player Hugh McDonald has been able to fill Alec John Such’s shoes (although he is still missed) since 1994. Touring guitarist Bobby Banderia rounds out their live guitar sound nicely and contributes vocally as well.
During “We Got it Going On” Jon turned his attention to the fans seated behind the stage and strutted his stuff just for them. I remember reading a long time ago that when Jon used to go to shows as a kid, all he could afford were the cheap seats in the back. To this day, he still acknowledges people in those seats and hasn’t forgotten where he came from.
When Jon asked the crowd if there was a doctor in the house, we all knew what was coming next…. “Bad Medicine!” Midway through the song, Bobby Bandiera joined Jon on vocals to mix in Robert Palmer’s “Bad Case of Loving You.” This was a fun addition that fit in perfectly
Bon Jovi kept the excitement going with “It’s My Life,” and then left the stage so Richie could sing lead vocals for “Homebound Train.” Richie did an amazing job, and added some extra leads and solos throughout the song.
After Richie’s performance, the lights faded and we were in for a surprise. Jon “popped up” in the middle of a walkway that divided the pit section from the rest of the floor and poured his heart out with an emotional rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” accompanied only with David Bryan on the keyboards. As Jon sang, he acknowledged and shook hands with fans lucky enough to be right there. After “Hallelujah,” the rest of the band came back to the stage, while Jon remained on the walkway, and they performed “Bed of Roses.”
Then, it was time for yet another surprise. Richie, Tico and Dave ALL joined. (Hugh and Bobby remained onstage.) Jon and Richie were on acoustic guitars, (Richie used a double-neck for a while.) Dave was on the accordion, and Tico had a wooden box/drum set up. At this point, I really didn’t know what to expect. From the walkway they performed “Something for the Pain” and “Someday I’ll be Saturday Night,” which are two of my favorite Bon Jovi songs. It was amazing to see this personal performance.
The entire band returned to the stage for “Keep the Faith” and Jon shook his maracas to the beat. (He also shook something else that the female fans loved throughout the entire night.) After “Faith,” it was back to “The Circle” for “Working Man,” “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” from “Have a Nice Day,” (which won a CMT award for the Best Collaborative Video in 2006) and then Bon Jovi closed their set with another new song titled “Love’s the Only Rule.” It’s a beautiful song, with a positive message, and a great way for Jon and the band to exit the stage before the encore.
Of course, we knew it wasn’t over yet. Anticipation grew as fans waited, and wondered what they would come back with. They re-entered the stage with another new song called “Thorn in My Side.” Then Jon asked the audience to please rise for their National Anthem, “Wanted Dead or Alive.” I looked around and was proud I could hardly find a seated fan in Bon Jovi’s house. After an amazing set, it was time for the last song of the night. The band started playing “Livin’ on a Prayer,” but instead of singing, Jon asked us to take over. We did a really good job too! All the lights were on, and everyone sang along for the entire first verse. Jon was impressed with how good we sounded, and joined in with us for the rest of the song. After the famous Bon Jovi bow, they took their time thanking us and waving goodbye to everyone. Then they were gone….
I’m really looking forward to the Staples show. I heard that they played “Only Lonely” at one of the Hawaii shows. Maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll throw in another rarity here too.
Bon Jovi – Staples Center – 3/4/2010
My next Bon Jovi experience took place at Staples Center in Los Angeles. This was their fourth consecutive SOLD OUT show on the tour, and they were presented a plaque to acknowledge this accomplishment. As I was walking in, I was stopped by a team of reporters doing a story on Bon Jovi for Live Daily. I was happy to participate, and answered questions about Bon Jovi, how many times I’ve seen them, how far I’ve traveled for them, etc…It was fun to be able to do this, and I really hope I get to see it.
This time I got to the show early, but not early enough for Dashboard confessional. (I don’t know anything about them anyways.) The most important part is that I was there, ready and waiting for Bon Jovi. As they entered the stage, images of Hope, Love, Joy, Optimism, Fear, Etc…were shown on the screen. Just like Anaheim, they started their set with “Blood on Blood,” but they mixed things up a bit from there, going straight into “Born to Be My Baby.”
Their set was similar to Anaheim, but different. We got a couple extra songs at this show: “Whole Lot of Leavin’” and “Lost Highway.” And instead of Jon singing “Bed of Roses” from the walkway alone, he invited Richie to join him for “I’ll Be There for You.” I really missed this song in Anaheim, and was glad to hear it at this show.
My seats were even further away this time, but I still loved watching the acoustic versions of “Pain” and “Saturday Night.” One thing I don’t understand is why doesn’t anyone seem to know “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night?” This is such an amazing song with great lyrics. At both shows, I felt like I was the only one standing and singing along to every word.
Like Anaheim, the band exited the stage after finishing “Love’s the Only Rule.” However, they threw in an extra song for the encore, and came back to the stage rocking “Runaway.” We didn’t get “Only Lonely,” but this was very cool, and unexpected. Although I have to admit, Jon didn’t hit the high notes on this one. (He didn’t even try.) The rest of the encore was the same, with Bon Jovi ending their set with “Thorn in my Side,” “Wanted,” and “Prayer.”
One of the many things I love about Bon Jovi is that every show is different, and they aren’t afraid to take a chance. There are many bands that put out new CD’s and then when they tour, they are afraid to play anything from it. What’s the point of making a new CD then? Bon Jovi isn’t afraid, and always mixes things up. I only wish I could go to more than two of the 135 shows on this tour.