News Segment


November 29, 2005

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) – New Jersey’s population dipped considerably Monday night, as 20,000 screaming fans packed Madison Square Garden in New York to jump, sing and dance along to the anthemic bombast and power balladry of Bon Jovi at the first of two sold-out nights.

As his bandmates took the stage in front of an enormous video screen, singer Jon Bon Jovi appeared on a small stage near the soundboard clutching an acoustic guitar, opening with “Last Man Standing” from the new album, “Have a Nice Day” (Island).

Rushing through the crowd flanked by security, the vocalist returned to the main stage to belt out the opening lines from “You Give Love a Bad Name.” From then on, it was anthems, ballads and hit after hit. Bon Jovi, guitarist Richie Sambora, keyboardist Dave Bryan, bassist Hugh McDonald and drummer Tico Torres were in excellent form all evening.

It hardly seems like 20 years since Bon Jovi first conquered the pop charts. Somewhere in a mansion in Jersey, locked away for eternity, there’s a collective portrait of the group withering away in decrepitude. Lyrically, the band hasn’t matured beyond defiant teen angst, pathos and sexual frustration, but Bon Jovi’s songs are epic. Never in the history of the Garden has “Whoa-oh!” been shouted so often and with such rapturous enthusiasm. The band might not be as socially relevant as Springsteen or U2, but its songs are so deliriously contagious that even the most self-conscious, socially awkward middle-aged white man could not keep still.

The crowd was completely locked in through the big choruses and slick riffs of “Runaway,” “Born to Be My Baby,” “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “It’s My Life,” “Always,” “Blaze of Glory” and the excellent new song, “Story of My Life.” Toward the end of the set, they led the audience through the Young Rascals’ “Good Lovin’,” then keyed up the opening to “Bad Medicine.” Jon Bon Jovi could have phoned in the entire performance, but he made great use of the stage, running about making goofy faces at the crowd.

The band closed with “Wanted Dead or Alive” and waved goodbye. The applause was well-earned: frivolous, well-coifed and still able to fit into tight jeans after all these years, Bon Jovi still knows how to rock.

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