« Some recommendations for the new Gov | Main | Years fly by, but Bon Jovi never gets old »

November 14, 2005

Bon Jovi blazes brightly with the old stuff

The New Jersey rocker and his band sparkle like Diamond but focus too heavily on their new album.

Bon Jovi's new album is pretty good, but it's not that good.

New Jersey's second-favorite rock 'n' roll band got a little too cocky about its continued popularity at Friday night's Target Center concert. The group played more than half of its new album, "Have a Nice Day," as if it has all the artistic staying power of the last act to sell out the Minneapolis arena: U2.

If there's any other recent Target Center filler that Bon Jovi resembled most on Friday, it was Neil Diamond (who, by the way, didn't play any songs off his acclaimed new album). Frontman Jon Bon Jovi has Diamond's serious-showman qualities, from his perfectly shaped hair and tight pants to his dramatic hand gestures. Even his self-deprecating but still self-congratulatory humor seemed Diamond-like.

"I have no rhythm," he told the crowd. "I look good in jeans, but I have no rhythm."

Give Jon and the boys credit, though. While most other hairspray-lifted '80s bands are playing casinos or starring in VH1 reality shows, they sold out Friday's 14,000 seats quickly enough to add a date at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center for the second leg of their tour (Jan. 27).

Any question about why their 30- and 40-something fans keep coming back was answered Friday by their second song, "You Give Love a Bad Name." Its easily singable lyrics filled the arena like Bud Light fills a plastic cup.

If only there had been more moments like that during the first half of the two-hour, 15-minute show. Instead, the group stuck to bland, workmen-like new songs such as the show-opener "Last Man Standing" and the "Livin' on a Prayer" rehash, "Story of My Life." They also picked a few older songs that even some diehard fans might question, including the dreadful "Romeo Is Bleeding" soundtrack upchuck "Always."

The momentum finally changed when Jon stood bare chest to bare chest with guitarist Richie Sambora for "I'll Be There For You." After that, he walked to a mid-arena stage for "Blaze of Glory."

They did go down in a blaze of glory. "Bad Medicine" and "Livin' on a Prayer" arrived like golden chariots before the encores. Then, the melodrama of the big climax, "Wanted: Dead or Alive," was countered nicely by a fun cover of the Roy Head classic "Treat Her Right."

Friday's opening act was an interesting one: Little-known local band Scarlet Haze won the slot via a radio contest. The female-fronted metal quartet, which sounded like Evanescence, should get a big boost out of the set.

Well, maybe. A cell-phone text message that appeared on the Sprint big screen after the band's set said, "I'll see Crimson Haze wherever they perform."

Chris Riemenschneider

Posted by riesambo at November 14, 2005 06:31 AM