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December 15, 2005

Bon Jovi rocks the Pepsi

ALBANY -- Bon Jovi's show at the Pepsi Arena Monday night had every element of a great concert -- the sound was perfect, the songs were awesome, the fans were way into it and the band, well, it IS Bon Jovi after all.

Even after 23 years, singer Jon Bon Jovi knows what it takes to make every fan feel special. He proved that in a performance that included a mix of new and old songs and a few surprises.

'The weekend ain't over in this building,' Bon Jovi said to the thousands of screaming fans.

Out in support of 'Have a Nice Day,' the band is incorporating a lot of new material for this tour, but the fans knew every word of every song. From the first notes of 'Last Man Standing,' the crowd was on its feet, singing along.

When a band can get those in the upper level (the notorious 'sitters' during most shows) standing throughout, you know they are going to rock the house. The energy coming from Jon and the boys (which included special guest musicians Jeff Kazee and Bobby Bandiera from Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes) flowed throughout the arena for almost 2½ hours.

And Bon Jovi doesn't need an elaborate stage set or wild antics to put on a good show. It was just the band and a giant screen as they rocked through favorites such as 'You Give Love a Bad Name' (which produced deafening screams from fans), 'I'll Sleep When I'm Dead,' 'Runaway' (just about everyone sang this one), 'Bounce' and 'It's My Life.' New stuff included 'Complicated,' Novocaine' and 'Story of My Life.'

Interspersed were lots of unexpected moments, like the amazing acoustic version of 'I'll Be There For You' that featured Jon and guitarist Richie Sambora center stage singing their hearts out, the acoustic version of Tom Petty's 'I Won't Back Down,' which led into the explosive title track to the new CD, 'Have a Nice Day' and the giant therapy session during 'Who Says You Can't Go Home' as fans chanted 'it's all right' over and over.

But the best part of the night was when Jon headed into the crowd and set up a mic stand in the middle of sections 119 and 120 as he jammed on 'Blaze of Glory.' Fans, especially the women in the crowd, clamored to get as close as possible. As he headed back to the stage, he performed 'Bed of Roses,' singing to individual women. You could see them melt as he got close, touched them and flashed his perfect smile.

Even with the night growing late, Bon Jovi wasn't done. They burst into the high-energy trio of 'Bad Medicine,' which in the past has been their encore song, 'Raise Your Hands' and 'Living on a Prayer.' Jon looked like a conductor as he waved his hands while the crowd sang along.

After a very short break (not more than a few minutes), they came back with 'Welcome to Wherever You Are,' 'Born to Be My Baby' and 'Treat Her Right,' which featured Jon shaking his backside and the women going nuts -- again.

But that wasn't the end. They said their goodnights, but Jon said, 'Let them stay,' and the encore continued.

Jon gave the crowd a Christmas present with a romping version of 'Run, Run Rudolph' and fulfilled a fan's request by playing 'Blood on Blood,' a song they usually never play live. Bon Jovi wrapped up the night with 'Wanted Dead or Alive,' with the crowd and Sambora taking over vocals.

Opening act, local band Wetwerks, which won the spot as openers, put on an impressive 30-minute performance and received a nice reception as fans streamed into the arena.

In the end, fans could be overheard saying the show was 'awesome,' 'the best I've ever seen,' with smiles plastered across their faces -- and no, not the smirky red smiley ones.

Posted by riesambo at December 15, 2005 09:54 AM