Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Jersey Shore on Lower Broadway?

I can remember in the early '80s watching the latest "Hair Band" to hit the MTV play list.  A band fronted by it's namesake sounding alot like every other band of that era.  They had a catchy song "Runaway" which featured good vocals, harmony's, & a staccato keyboard hook.  They really didn't stand out but then who could with the likes of A Flock of Seagulls & Twisted Sister!  Jersey band Bon Jovi looked & sounded like a dozen others on MTV.  I lost track & interest in Bon Jovi until 1986 when they released their third album "Slippery when Wet" which caught my attention & apparently the attention of millions of CD buying fans.  The rest as they say "is rock & roll history"! 

Bon Jovi's April 21st visit to Nashville would be my first chance to see & hear them in person.  It was time to see for myself what these guys were all about.  I gotta tell you I was impressed.  Not only was JBJ's voice as good as it has ever been, then band was tight & precise.  The stage show while "high-tech" complete with rotating LCD screens but did not take the audience's focus away from the music.  JBJ's stage presence captivated the crowd with tightly choreographed movements but not over the top.  I got the impression that he really "liked" singing their hits for the millionth time.  The band churned out 23 songs & the crowd responded to every on of them.  I will admit there were a few that I was not familiar with but I must say I liked them all.  Especially the one's which featured the screaming guitar playing of Richie Sambora.  Hey you gotta like a guy that was married to one of the hottest chicks on the planet (Heather Locklear)!  Richie is often overlooked when you talk about great guitar players.  His love of the guitar is apparent in his mannerisms & respect for the 6 & 12 string.  He played a variety of  guitars, Les Paul, Telecaster, Martin, Ovation, & some I could not make out. He played them all with the same passion & emotion.  He also did a great job on vocals taking the lead on "Lay Your Hands on Me" & various other backing vocals & harmonies.  Tico Torres made playing the drums look effortlessly.  I don't think he even broke a sweat.  Make no mistake about it, Tico's drums contribute just as much as Richie's guitar does to the Bon Jovi sound.  Rounding out the band was David Bryan on keyboards,  Bobby Bandiera on guitar, & Hugh McDonald on bass.  There was also a chick playing the Fiddle but I don't know who she was.  As I said, JBJ's vocals were "spot on" but so was his guitar work  Banging mostly on a Martin acoustic JBJ is no stranger to the guitar.  His rhythm guitar filled the voids & made for a nice full sound. 

One thing JBJ knows how to do is connect with his audience.  I'm not talking about running around from one end of the stage to the other, although he was active, his eye contact, pearly white smile, & emotional investment let you know he was there to sing for you!  He also gave thanks several times to the fans for supporting them & even thanked them for attending the concert on a work night!  It was refreshing to hear an artist that actually knew what night of the week it was much less thank us for paying to see them.  Very classy guy & band.
Here is the set list:
Blood on Blood
We Weren't Born to Follow (New to me but I really liked it & so did the crowd)
You Give Love a Bad Name (The place went crazy)
Whole Lot of Leavin'
Born to Be My Baby (This tune still rocks)
Lost Highway
When We Were Beautiful
Superman Tonight (great song, excellent vocals)
We Got It Goin' On (fun tune)
Bad Medicine w/ Roadhouse Blues [The Doors cover] / Shout! [Isley Brothers cover]  (Awesome)
It's My Life (I forgot how good this song was)
Lay Your Hands on Me [Richie Sambora on lead vocals] (Richie did well on this, he has a great voice)
Hallelujah [Leonard Cohen cover]
I'll Be There For You
Something for the Pain [acoustic]
Someday I'll Be Saturday Night [acoustic] (nice tune)
Keep the Faith (lots of rocked! Nice guitar work Richie)
Work for the Working Man (good tune)
Who Says You Can't Go Home (I kept waiting on Sugarland to join in!)
Love's the Only Rule
Runaway (as good as the first time I heard it)
Wanted Dead or Alive (superb guitar work & vocals)
Livin' on a Prayer (one of my favs)

All in all a great evening of entertainment. Bon Jovi gives 110% & the audience give 120 % back! I enjoyed the evening & have a stronger appreciation for what Bon Jovi has accomplished throughout their career. I even bought a fricken T-Shirt! Sadly they had no DoRags! I think they are missing out on a great marketing opportunity. My only dissapointment was they did not play my favorite Bon Jovi tune "Dry County"! But one thing is for sure, the boyz from Jersey can rock & roll with the best of them! Thanks Bon Jovi for Rockin Lower Broadway!

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