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Review: Bon Jovi @ State College, PA - Bryce Jordan Center 2-9-11

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Crowd roars approval as Bon Jovi kicks off tour


Just as the sellout crowd became engulfed in Bon Jovi’s 80s-rich anthems, lead singer Jon Bon Jovi brought them back to reality for a second. He told the crowd that his four children back home had strep throat, and he tried his best not to catch it — so much for rock star cowboys.

John Bon Jovi performs at the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday, February 9, 2011. The show kicked off the Bon Jovi Live 2011 tour. CDT/Christopher Weddle
A buzz tremored around State College all week. Eighties giants Bon Jovi were kicking off a 33-show North American tour, and it all started at University Park. The more than 15,000 that filled the Bryce Jordan Center Wednesday night took a break from the 11-degree frigidness outside and experienced the pageantry of a classic arena rock carnival.

The BJC opened up extra seats behind the stage due to high demand and every fan from the expensive seats circling the stage to those touching the ceiling sang along. Large, moveable high definition screens formed shapes and displayed a wide variety of scenes, sequences and song lyrics on and around the stage. Bon Jovi glinted his pearly whites between tunes and the fans screamed just as they have been over the past two decades.

“Not a day goes by that I’m not grateful,” he said. “To be doing this for 26 years.”

Not every song received the same treatment from the crowd, but the lead singer twisted, waved his hands and danced with the same energy nonetheless. With radio staples mixed seamlessly with relatively less-known tracks, the audience didn’t know whether to stand up or sit down, awkwardly rising and falling between songs.

Bon Jovi chatted with the roaring crowd after every third or fourth song. “This is one big frat party and we’re all in the same fraternity,” he said. After that, the band dropped into a heavy version Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman.”

The first big crowd reaction came ironically during “Lay Your Hands on Me,” a song guitarist Richie Sambora sings. With a retrospective of songs, it’s hard not to notice that a lot of the band’s tunes sound strikingly similar, from Sambora’s talk box to Bon Jovi’s prevailing vocals. But another thing each song has in common is that they are all crowd pleasers.

The loudest roar came during a break in songs when Bon Jovi stood stoically and smiled at the crowd. He thanked the adoring fans profusely and talked about the challenges of living in the United States. He touched on the economy, the housing market and the divorce rate, among others. With his words the theme of the show — perhaps the whole tour — came into fruition.

The bulk of the band’s setlist showcased songs about overcoming obstacles and living life to the fullest, including “We Weren’t Born to Follow,” “Whole Lot of Leavin’ ” and “It’s My Life.”

The evening concluded with super hits “Living on a Prayer” and “Wanted Dead or Alive” during the band’s encore. After the show, the energetic crowd filed back out into the cold reality after almost two hours of sweating to one of the most popular acts in the past 25 years.

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I am and always have been a Bon Jovi fan. This blog is just my obsession taken a step further, my imagination in high gear if you will. I love to read and decided to see what would happen when I took that love of the written word and ramped it up a bit.

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