Bon Jovi – MGM Garden Grand Arena
Las Vegas, NV – March 19th, 2011
Written by Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
Bon Jovi has one crazy tour ahead of them! Between now and the end of July, they will have literally, toured all over the world! (Almost) Last March they played three dates in the Los Angeles area in support of their latest CD “The Circle.” I decided three shows on this tour wasn’t enough for me, and I had to get in one more!
I was lucky enough to score a last minute ticket on Craigslist to this SOLD-OUT show, and I was Vegas bound! I love when Bon Jovi plays Vegas, because they not only take over the Arena they are playing; they take over the entire town! When I arrived at MGM Casino, they were playing “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” over the speakers, and… they continued to play Bon Jovi songs throughout the entire night! Everywhere I looked I saw Bon Jovi fans, Bon Jovi shirts, and….fake mullets? (I could do without those!)
Bon Jovi hit the stage with “Livin’ On a Prayer,” which lead right into “You give Love a Bad Name,” Born to be my Baby,” and ‘Circle’ single “We Weren’t Born to Follow.” Bon Jovi truly are on top of their game. They know how to work a crowd, and they make sure that every fan, from the front to the back, is out of their seat, and having a rockin’ good time. After “Follow,” they slowed things down a bit, and took us back to 1991 for “Blaze of Glory.”
One thing that I love about Bon Jovi, is that they have been able to bridge the gap between fans of not two, but three generations. Their music truly is universal, and stands the test of time. I’m such a ‘die-hard’ fan, that I always want Bon Jovi to play something different, or obscure… Not a hit. I also love when Jon changes the songs up a bit when they perform live. They did just that! They interjected the Stones “Start Me Up” in the middle of “I’ll sleep when I’m Dead,” and they also performed Rod Stewart’s “Hot Legs” during “Bad Medicine.”
One surprise was when Jon stepped away from the mic, and Richie Sambora took over the vocals for “Lay Your Hands on Me.” I’ve seen Richie sing “I’ll Be There for You,” and “Wanted,” before, so this was another nice change-up and gave “Hands” a different, blues-ier vibe.
When the time was right, Jon “appeared” on a walkway/ramp that ran thru the audience, and poured his heart and soul into “You Want to Make a Memory,” and “Bed of Roses.” All the meanwhile, giving lucky fans a once in a lifetime opportunity by singing directly to them, looking into their eyes, and touching their hands….What I wouldn’t give to be right there!
After “Bed of Roses, the rest of the boys, minus bass player Hugh McDonald (I call him Huey.) and touring guitarist Bobby Bandiera joined Jon for the world-famous ballad, “I’ll Be There for You.” Keyboardist David Bryan was playing an accordion, and Tico was on a Cajun Drum (which is basically a wooden box that you can sit on and play.) Together they played one of the more obscure songs from ‘New Jersey,’ the really fun “Love for Sale,” and then ended their up-and-personal crowd performance with a “slowed-down” rendition of “Someday I’ll be Saturday Night.” I LOVE this song, and even though they were doing the acoustic version, I found myself (like always) screaming all the words like they are on the CD. Funny that most people don’t seem to know this one; it is definitely one of the best. Right after that, the band left the ramp, and made it back to the stage for “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” and “I’ll sleep when I’m Dead.”
Bon Jovi closed out the set with Jon shaking his maracas (and his behind) to “Keep the Faith.” However, they were back in a flash for the encore! They opened with “DRY COUNTY,” from the “Keep the Faith” CD, which was totally awesome. Richie played an AMAZING guitar solo, where even Jon was watching and clapping as he tore it up. This melodically, soulful and touching ballad was the perfect way to start the encore. When Richie grabbed his double-neck, I knew it was time for the ‘Bon Jovi National Anthem,’ (even though Jon didn’t say that this time) “Wanted Dead or Alive!” Next they performed “I Love This Town.” I always like seeing them play this song in Vegas, because they really do LOVE Vegas. (L.A….Not so much.)
I actually expected the set to end there, but then they gave us a FOURTH song during their already amazing encore, another one of my favorite Jovi songs, “In These Arms.” It was kind of funny though, I’m so used to seeing Dave (Bryan) sing this song live, I forgot how it sounds when Jon does it. And believe me, it was NICE!
After the famous Bon Jovi Bow, I made my way to the soundstage to try and score the setlist. It was gone, but I did get a sheet that listed their soundcheck, and set times, so that’s somethin’! Overall, it was a great night, and I am lucky to have had another AMAZING Bon Jovi experience!!!