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Saturday, 15 June 2013

Another Point Of View: Bon Jovi (Review By Paul)

Bon Jovi – Cardiff City Stadium June 12 2013

As a 17 year old, I stood in a crowd of 60,000 at Castle Donington and watched one of the leading lights in rock and specifically the genre of ‘hair metal, bring the 1987 Monsters of Rock Festival to a close with a cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s We’re an American Band. The day had been graced by such metal luminaries as Cinderella, WASP, Anthrax, Metallica and Dio and during the final song Jon Bon Jovi was joined on stage by Paul Stanley (Kiss), Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) and Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) who provided a very jovial finish to a great day. 26 years later, I arrived at my spiritual sporting home, the Cardiff City Stadium, in time to take my (cheap) seat as Bon Jovi took to the stage. Now, one thing is obvious. The path Bon Jovi has followed since 1987 is pretty different to the other bands who shared the stage at the MOR festival all those years ago. Opening with That’s What The Water Made Me, one of four tracks aired from their latest album, the band played two hours of radio friendly pop rock which was lapped up by the healthy crowd. First sing along of the night followed with You Give Love A Bad Name, which was quickly followed by Born To Be My Baby and full audience participation of Raise Your Hands
 The stage set was impressive with the front grill and bonnet of a 1959 Buick Electra, dazzling lighting and three large screens to allow those anywhere further than about a metre back the opportunity to see Jon’s Hollywood smile in all its glory. Bright? I’ve still got retina scorching. Whilst the crowd around us lapped up every word and the band seemed happy enough, there was one thing missing. The absence of Richie Sambora (perfectly adequately replaced musically by Phil X) massively reduced the on stage interaction and it appeared just a little bit flat. Original members David Bryan (keyboards) and Tico Torres (drums) did their best but Sambora has a presence which really helps. Jon Bon Jovi’s voice remains as good as it ever did, even if he has morphed into Cliff Richard physically (check out some of the pictures from the gig). Bon Jovi are very good at what they do. No band sells 130 million albums without having something. The problem is that, when you hear 15 tracks back to back they all kind of merge. Plenty of sing along moments during the set which included a seamless segue during Keep The Faith into Let Me Entertain You (sadly the Robbie Williams version and not the belter from Queen) which got many of the females in the crowd very excited (maybe because they actually recognised it?). This appropriately illustrated the audience that BJ now attract. Pink cowboy hats, best outfits on whilst clutching their pints; it was like being at rugby international or a Sterophonics gig. Attention waned during the slower part of the set before audience participation ramped up again for set closers I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead and Bad Medicine. At this point I have to say I’d seen enough and we exited before the six song encore. I’m not sorry I went as it’s rare to get tickets to see a stadium band for £12.50, but I’m glad I didn’t pay any more than that. They do what they do very well. No question about it. Their crowd annoy me more than anything else and I think that having members of the valley commandoes (female pink hat branch) collapsing before the band came on stage and sleeping through the entire gig may have clouded my judgment a little. I fear that Bruce Springsteen next month will attract a very similar audience. 6/10

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