Bon Jovi (with Daughtry) concert review

Bon Jovi (with Daughtry)

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How many arena acts are left – acts that still put out relevant music that builds on their pre-existing work, as opposed to simply living off the greatest-hits thing? The Stones have made records over the last 20 years, not much of it distinguished. Aerosmith has produced some decent material. Van Halen spends more time not together than actually as a band, so they are out of the equation. Springsteen does a lot of pet projects and doesn’t do the arena thing all that often anymore. Bon Jovi has released records recently that continue to chart and rock arenas as hard as the bona fide hits that made them into stars. They have all the elements that make them worth every penny: A charismatic pretty boy lead singer with a million-dollar smile and a voice that has gotten better with age, a guitar slinger with a bluesy feel and the perfect voice to harmonize with the lead vocalist and melodic, hook-laden hits that make you want to sing along and get your lighter out.

The band hit the stage at 8:40 PM and proceeded to blow through 25 songs (including encores) and left the fans screaming for more at 11:01 PM. The boys from New Jersey know how to put on a show and appease their fans with all the hits while still working in plenty of material from their latest record, the country-flavored Lost Highway (Red Rocker's Review). The country boogie of “We Got It Going On” fits well (strangely) with arena rockers like “Bad Medicine” and “Keep the Faith.” “Lost Highway” flows wonderfully into “You Give Love a Bad Name.” Jon Bon Jovi really sings the hell out of the material; never does it feel like he’s holding back on the audience. The ballads, like “Bed of Roses” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” are soulful and sincere. Tico Torres is the engine that keeps the machine rolling; his drumming fills the arena effortlessly. Most importantly, the boys look like they’re having a gas. When Jon introduces “Runaway” from 1982 by counting the years down and bringing everyone back to the year that he brought the demo into a Jersey radio station and demanded it be played, the fans are in the palm of his hand. “The rest is history,” he coyly adds, before launching into the 26-year-old hit. The band plays the material with enthusiasm and joy. Violinist and backing vocalist Lorenza Ponce is an excellent complement to the live sound. The band looks as if they are having the time of their lives and are glad you could come along for the ride. With twinkles in their eyes and mischievous smiles, they gladly add a couple of verses of the Isley Brother’s “Shout” to their own “Bad Medicine” and use Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” as an intro to “Blaze Of Glory.”

Daughtry opened with a solid 40-minute set in which he followed the opening act code of conduct by eliciting cheers with several “Chicago” shout outs and asking the crowd how they felt about Bon Jovi. The ex-Idol’s powerful voice sounded large enough to fill the United Center, especially on the set-closing “Home.” He seemed to be battling his voice a bit by gargling and drinking a lot of water between songs, but he soldiered through. At this performance, however, he didn’t appear onstage with the headliner for “Wanted Dead or Alive.” They did just fine on their own.

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