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March 06, 2008

Concert Report: Bon Jovi thrills fans with a big show

Jon Bon Jovi, right, introduces Richie Sambora during last night's sold out concert at Mellon Arena.

Jon Bon Jovi never needed the same caliber of song as elder arena- rockers like Springsteen, Seger or Petty. He had that great hair and a million dollar smile.

Twenty-five years into his career, he still does, as demonstrated last night in the first of two shows he will play at the Mellon Arena this month. Bon Jovi delivered all the thrills and excitement of an arena spectacle while sparing everyone the burden of having to think about a thing.

The purity of Bon Jovi is over-sized, unoriginal rock songs about love and faith with sing-song choruses and time-tested licks from Richie Sambora. They ran through two hours of hits, from the early "Runaway" and "You Give Love a Bad Name" to faux-cowboys songs like "Blaze of Glory" and "Wanted Dead or Alive," to recent breakthroughs like "(You Want To) Make a Memory."

There was so much love flowing between Bon Jovi and his screaming, singing fans, you had to assume that if he had time, he would have sat down and bought each and every person a beer. That's the kind of guy he is.

For the ballad "Bed of Roses", he was on a small stage in the crowd, and if he wasn't singing to the few nearby fans with genuine love, then he's a better actor than anyone gave him credit for being. It was about as touching as concert shtick can get.

Bon Jovi doesn't reach for the high notes like he once did, but he was in strong voice and his energy never lagged, from the opening of "Lost Highway" to the finale of "I Love This Town." Adding to the party vibe, he even tossed bits of "Shout" and "Jumpin' Jack Flash" into the middle of the set.

Opening the show was Chris Daughtry of "American Idol" fame. People like to slag on the Idols, but Daughtry is an authentic take-off of bands like Nickelback and Three Doors Down. His backing musicians are grungy and muscular, just like him, and he played the tormented rocker to perfection.

For a full review of the show, see Friday's Post-Gazette.

Posted by riesambo at March 6, 2008 10:49 PM