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February 25, 2006

Loyal Bon Jovi fans have hair-raising nice day

The hair may be smaller, but the bravado was as towering as ever.

Bon Jovi visited the Pepsi Center on Thursday night ostensibly to support its 2005 album "Have a Nice Day." But does this legendary pop metal act really need a reason to tour? Its fan base was secured nearly two decades ago with singalong hits such as "Livin' on a Prayer" and "You Give Love a Bad Name," both from Bon Jovi's third record, "Slippery When Wet."

For anyone who has been living in a cave since the mid-1980s, the album sold nearly 9 million copies and launched the band into superstardom. So what if Bon Jovi aped other, better pop metal acts like Van Halen? Their MTV-friendly image of glittery manes and subtle eyeliner fit perfectly with the cultural milieu of the time.

One might think the audience would be comprised mostly of people who lost their virginity to Bon Jovi songs - mid-to-late thirtysomethings who rocked the band's hits in their Fiero convertibles and pickup trucks on prom night. But the capacity crowd was diverse in nearly every way but ethnicity (99 percent white).

The diminutive Jon Bon Jovi (born Jon Bongiovi) appeared on the opposite side of the arena atop a spotlit platform, clad in tight black pants and a black leather jacket, his coifed hair as magnificent as ever. After the opening song he made his way through the crowd to the stage, which was backed by colorful, eye-catching LCD displays and blinding strobes, a cross between a carnival ride and the inside of a spaceship hangar.

Guitarist Richie Sambora looked as calm as ever, his wide black hat and diamond crucifix necklace swaying gently as he picked away at his Gibson. The rest of the band, seven members in all, were as musically tight as they were comfortable, occasionally adding backing vocals over the drums and copious keyboard accompaniment.

Jon Bon Jovi knew how to work the crowd, inciting numerous fist-pumping, hand-clapping singalongs to "Livin' on a Prayer," "I'll Be There for You" and "Bad Medicine." He wasn't afraid to go into the audience either (with bodyguards, of course), strapping on his black acoustic guitar and striding into various aisles.

The fans up front toted signs reading "Who Says You Can't Go Home With Me?" and "It's Alright," referencing song lyrics in adoration of their New Jersey-bred idols.

By the end of the show the fans were frothing at the mouth and screaming for more encores. If one can say anything objective about Bon Jovi, it's that they sound exactly the same as they did 20 years ago. Whether that's good or bad is a matter of taste.

By John Wenzel
Denver Post Staff Writer

Posted by riesambo at February 25, 2006 11:07 AM