I saw Bon Jovi three years ago at the same venue with the standing areas set up almost in the same way. The difference is that this time our beloved guitarist Richie Sambora wasn’t present, and the band was supporting an album I didn’t like very much.
Supporting the band was Kid Rock, an artist that I’m not very familiar with, but what I did know is that his music spans a variety of genres, including rock, rap and country; and he even performed a DJ solo. I was impressed with what I heard, and I’m keen to check out more of his stuff, because most of his set sounded like good ol’ rock n roll.
Bon Jovi surely played Melbourne one of the longest gigs it’s ever seen with 26 songs and that included the occasional medley and extended jam. There was something for every fan, old and new, from their breakout Slippery When Wet record to this year’s lame What About Now. The title track from the new album was the only one off that record that I liked. My least favourite part of the night was ‘Because We Can’, which is the name of the tour. It’s the lamest single the band has ever written. I thought it was the “Lost Highway” tour at one point, because they played five songs off that record, which is fine by me because that was the last great Bon Jovi album, but there were tons of hits that they missed.
Jon Bon Jovi struggled to hold an extended note at times, most evident with ‘You Want To Make A Memory’ and the poor man’s ‘Hallelujah’, ‘Amen’, but he is a 51 year old man. Something that clearly isn’t gone is his passion and charisma and he knew how to work a crowd.
One of the nicest surprises was the stripped down version of ‘Someday I’ll be Saturday Night’. Drummer Tico Torres and keyboardist David Bryan got to step out off their usual instruments and hit some tambourines and play with an accordion. This continued into ‘Diamond Ring’, one of my favourites from These Days.
‘Captain Crash and the Beauty Queen From Mars’ is…well I have no idea what that song is about. It’s a strange inclusion into the set, and at this point in the set I was thinking that the show was ‘good but not great’.
It was late in the set when things really started to pick up. ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead’ and ‘Bad Medicine’ have a ‘70s-‘80s jukebox feel to them, and the middle of these songs were interrupted to incorporate snippets of cover songs, such as ‘Start Me Up’, ‘Shout’, and a personal highlight, ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’. It was great, because rock n roll is great.
The band came back from the encore and then it hit me: they were about to play ‘Dry County’. That was the song I wanted to hear, and Sambora’s replacement Phil X did a great job of that sacred solo. After that nine minute epic wrapped up I was I’m not sure if the crowd was politely listening or were indifferent to this special song, but if it was the latter than I’m officially mad at them
I could go home happy after hearing ‘Dry County’, but there was more good stuff to come! There was the Bon Jovi national anthem ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’, where the crowd sang the entire first verse. Next was ‘Have A Nice Day’, a fan favourite, and the underrated ‘I Love This Town’. A pleasant surprise was ‘These Days’, and what was not a surprise, but was very exciting nonetheless was, of course, ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’. Having the entire crowd sing that song to the top of their voices was one of the greatest live moments I’ve seen from any band, and there’s no better song to end with.
A few songs could have been swapped out for something better, but there was plenty to like here, especially later in the set. Fans got their value for money as the show went for over two and a half hours. Let’s just hope that next time the band writes a better album to play off; if not they better just play a ‘best of’ set.
SETLIST (Best performances in bold)
That’s What the Water Made Me
You Give Love a Bad Name
Raise Your Hands
Whole Lot of Leavin’
It’s My Life
Because We Can
What About Now
We Got It Goin’ On
Keep the Faith
Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night
(You Want to) Make a Memory
Captain Crash & the Beauty Queen From Mars
Born to Be My Baby
We Weren’t Born to Follow
Who Says You Can’t Go Home
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (w/ Start Me Up, Wipe Out, You Shook Me All Night Long snippets)
Bad Medicine (w/ Shout snippet)
Wanted Dead or Alive
Have a Nice Day
I Love This Town
Livin’ on a Prayer