In life there are few events which compare to the anticipation created as an arena’s lights are drawn prior to a band’s descent upon it’s stage. In this case, make that a band who has sold in excess of 120 million units worldwide and holds the record for the most weeks a hard rock album placed at #1 on the Billboard 200 (Slippery When Wet). Add to that countless award-show victories including the Grammys, the People’s Choice Awards, My VH1 Music Awards and more recently the CMT Music Awards. Finally, throw into the mix a front man who is considered to be one of the sexiest men alive by women all over the world.
Bon Jovi brought their roving 'rock and roll church' to the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan on July 7 to once again ‘make a memory‘. The Lost Highway Tour returned to the Palace no doubt to capitalize on the band’s astounding record of selling out the arena ten times throughout their highly successful career helping confirm themselves as one of the top-grossing headline acts of today. A permanent banner descending from the tall rafters reminds the band of their loyal fan base and well-established roots in southern Michigan. With the 22,000 plus seats filled once again to capacity, on a Monday evening consequently, Jon, Ritchie and the boys blasted through the Bon Jovi catalogue and claimed the event as an extended weekend celebration.
The two-hour set opened with the album’s title track "Lost Highway". Though a follow-up to their country crossover hit of 2007’s "Who Says You Can’t Go Home" which now sits comfortably somewhere on Nashville’s Music Row, the energy of the song played live equalled the intensity and conviction of other ‘fist-shakers’ of the evening. Now in support of their tenth studio album of all original material, Bon Jovi managed to pull out the signature hits from past records along with some surprises such as the quirky "Caption Crash and the Beauty Queen from Mars" from 2002‘s "Bounce".
With the power writing team of Bon Jovi/Sambora it was a night of memorable melodies, flashy guitar riffs and an overall ‘feel-good’ event. Now 46 years young, Jon Bon Jovi still has the energy of a child with the stage as his playground. His passion and emotion for his craft is conveyed to the audience through more than just the typical hand swipes with the audience, but with magnanimous smiles and heart-felt glances which are certain to have one take the experience personally. Props also go out to guitarist Ritchie Sambora who in his own right helped create those legendary riffs as well as wailing solos which accompanied the familiar choruses. Though claiming to be suffering from a sinus infection his soulful rendition of "I’ll Be There For You" thrilled fans as the spotlight was turned over to a man whose presence and talent is often shadowed by his iconic colleague much like their home town New Jersey is to its globally-recognized neighbour Manhattan.
His second attempt at lead vocals on "These Days", another surprise to fans as well as to Ritchie himself as Jon asked if he still had one more in him, allowed Jon to disappear into the crowd to his mini stage propped halfway through the arena. Here he gave an even more intimate performance through the power-ballads "(You Want to) Make a Memory" and " Bed of Roses".
With their massive back catalogue of international hits, this all-American band still managed to pay tribute to their heroes the Rolling Stones and the Beatles with carefully placed interpretations of "Start Me Up" and "Twist and Shout".
Supported also by fellow band mates David Bryan on keyboards and Tico Torres on drums, the four core members of Bon Jovi are certain to go down in the history books as one of the greatest arena bands of all time. Though the mullet days are far removed the girl-heavy crowds will still flock to see this now cross-generational band perform the hits which they grew up on. With their ballads and foot-stompers now shifting genres, who knows what will be expected from the band as the tour winds down. One thing for sure however, Bon Jovi has definitely still "got it goin’ on"!