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July 21, 2006

Turning up the heat

Bon Jovi rocks sweltering Giants Stadium with hits old and new

Jon Bon Jovi began Tuesday's concert at Giants Stadium by daring the elements to mess with him.

Rain, thunder, lightning, sleet, snow, hail? Bring it, he said with a smile.

"Nothing scares me, baby," the Middletown resident told the crowd at the sold-out East Rutherford stadium. "I've come home and I'm a man on a mission."

The remark likely was prompted not only by the scalding triple-digit temperatures of the day, but also by the memory of his band's August 2003 date at the stadium, when the show went on despite torrential rain.

But even rock gods know when it's time to defer to Mother Nature.

At 9:40 p.m., a refreshing gust swept through the stadium, followed by plops of rain. By 10 p.m., the rain was steady, and nuggets of hail stung fans. Twenty minutes later, lightning zigzagged across the horizon.

It was time to call it a night.

The storm felled trees throughout North Jersey and made lights flicker in Central Jersey.

But up until then, Bon Jovi prowled the stage. Drenched in sweat, Bon Jovi and his equally soggy bandmates — Richie Sambora, lead guitar and vocals; David Bryan, keyboards and vocals; Tico Torres, drums; and Hugh McDonald, bass — presented the "Have a Nice Day" tour in the venue they consider their hometown club.

The band has been joined on this tour by two Jersey Shore music veterans: guitarist Bobby Bandiera and keyboardist Jeff Kazee. The two stellar musicians kept to the background for most of the show, but Bandiera did get a few minutes of focus on the big video screen, and he seemed at ease with the material and the extravaganza as a whole.

Bon Jovi and Sambora had fun with the Western-esque anthem "Wanted Dead or Alive." They seemed to intertwine, standing side by side with both guitars aimed at the crowd like guns. The audience played along, too, shouting out Sambora's vocal harmony: "Waaaanted!"

It was a good night for Sambora, who has had a tumultuous time recently, with the breakup of his marriage to Heather Locklear and his complicated romance with Denise Richards. Many of Sambora's relatives from Woodbridge attended Tuesday's show, and there were cheers as Sambora took on lead vocals for "I'll Be There for You."

Bon Jovi introduced Sambora with great fanfare, describing his old friend as "my bandmate, my brother, my right arm."

"I want to thank all of Richie's family for selling out Giants Stadium," Bon Jovi said.

Sambora did not address the crowd, except to laugh beneath his goofy, trademark hat.

The concert opened with a sturdy cover of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World" but stuck with pure Bon Jovi for the rest of the set list, ranging from the band's breakthrough single, "Runaway," to the current megahit, "Who Says You Can't Go Home," which has been used as a theme song in commercials for New Jersey tourism and has topped Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart via a duet with Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles.

Bon Jovi wraps up the "Have a Nice Day" tour July 29 at Giants Stadium.

Posted by riesambo at July 21, 2006 06:04 AM