A singin' and shakin' Bon Jovi delights 23,000 fans at dome
By: John Lamb
Nobody tells Jon Bon Jovi he can't go home, but the 23,000-some fans at the Fargodome will welcome him back here any time.
Two years after the New Jersey rocker and his band made their Fargodome debut, the quartet returned to a packed house of open arms.
The arms were open partially because the lead singer almost doubles as an aerobics instructor, strutting and dancing around the elliptical stage, throwing his hands up in the air or out to the crowd, and fans returned the gestures.
The group opened with "Blood on Blood" from 1988's "New Jersey" and played a good mix of old tunes and new numbers from last year's "The Circle" - though the crowd was more familiar with "You Give Love a Bad Name" than the new single "Superman Tonight."
And they didn't stop with their own catalog. During "Bad Medicine," the group launched into a chugging cover of The Doors' "Roadhouse Blues."
Jon Bon Jovi has taken a nod from his idols, particularly New Jersey's older favorite son, Bruce Springsteen. In addition to Springsteen's rock 'n' roll revival preaching, Bon Jovi adds motivational speaking.
He and guitarist/singer Richie Sambora don't just write arena-rock anthems, they write pearls of populist positivity, like "It's My Life" and "We Weren't Born to Follow." It wouldn't have been a surprise if they covered Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'."
Instead, the singer returned from a break in a fresh shirt - none of his shirts seem to button up - on the outer loop of the stage to sing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." It was a fine rendition, but this song is so overdone it's lost any resonance. For the sake of the song, retire it.
The other members joined the singer out front for an acoustic set of "Something for the Pain" and "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night."
Non-fans in attendance would have to admit Jon Bon Jovi is a top-notch entertainer, even if some of his stage posturing, particularly during "Work for the Working Man," seemed like something out of "Glee." But his stroll through the crowd at the end of the regular set to shake hands and hug one little girl was a genuine act of appreciation for his fans as was playing to the cheap seats behind the stage during the set.
He was also appreciative of the Fargodome staff, thanking them for decorating the backstage area before the encore song "I Love this Town." He dug deep for the group's first hit, '84's "Runaway," and added a cover of the Beatles "Twist and Shout" to the mix before shaking maracas to "Keep the Faith."
He and Sambora play off each other impressively, especially on "Who Says You Can't Go Home" and later in the second encore "Wanted Dead or Alive." He dedicated that song to the cowboys in the room, asking the crowd, "Haven't you had enough," but no one was tired during the 2-hour, 40-minute show which ended with "Livin' on a Prayer."
There was no doubt what fans came to see, and the singer acknowledged it early in the show explaining why he wouldn't do much talking.
"What you want me to do is sing and shake my ass," he said.