Together and with The Power of We, we can start a revolution. One Soul at a time... ~Jon Bon Jovi *** There's a Story on every street corner, my friend. All you have to do is open your eyes... ~Richie Sambora

Review: Bon Jovi @ Amway Center, Orlando, FL

Monday, May 16, 2011

Concert review: Bon Jovi at Amway Center

When it comes to rock ‘n’ roll icons from New Jersey, Jon Bon Jovi obviously isn’t the Boss.

Yet a little of the Bruce Springsteen work ethic was evident in the singer’s generous performance with the band that bears his name on Sunday at Amway Center. Maybe it’s just something in that New Jersey water.

For almost 2-1/2 hours, the band used its loaded six-strings to execute an old-school arena rock showcase. There were some special effects, but the biggest weapon was the guys on stage – and the songs.

“Get up outta your seats!” Bon Jovi commanded after the spirited opener “Lost Highway.” “If you wanna see some magic, get up outta your seats!”

The band made it easy to obey by launching into “You Give Love a Bad Name,” an arena-rock anthem that stands the test of time. It set the tone for a show that rarely stopped to take a breath, much less sit down.

Only Springsteen, and a few others, push toward the three-hour mark in an era when the average flavor-of-the-month heads for the bus after an obligatory 75 minutes.

Bon Jovi approaches its work with too much heart for that.

Yeah, there are cheesy, boiler-plate sentiments at the root of many of these songs, but the hard-charging delivery on Sunday made it work in “We Weren’t Born to Follow,” “Born to Be My Baby” and others.

“I got 20,000 seats in my time machine!” Bon Jovi exclaimed in a very Springsteen-esque way, before launching into his seminal hit “Runaway.”

He might have needed most of them. In addition to a marathon performance, Sunday’s show also featured another rarity: a packed house, including the seats directly behind the massive stage.

One of the band members, of course, didn’t make it.

Richie Sambora isn’t on the tour, after reportedly checking into rehab about a week before the band’s recent set at Jazz Fest in New Orleans. His substitute, session guitarist and ex-Triumph member Phil “Phil X” Xenidis, filled in capably – especially with his frenetic solo in “Bad Medicine.”

Not everything was magic. The ponderous “Work for the Working Man,” for instance, showed that this band is better off leaving the social commentary to others. And a low-energy stretch of ballads, including “Bed of Roses,” lasted too long – unless you were one of the fans next to the runway where the singer performed them on amid the crowd on the floor.

Even some of the rockers – “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” and “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” – started to sound the same. Although the lesser songs lacked the killer punch of “Wanted Dead or Alive” or “Livin’ on a Prayer,” there were way more peaks than valleys.

Musically, the band’s core unit – featuring drummer Tico Torres and keyboardist David Bryan — work together as a high-powered, finely tuned machine. And the newcomer on guitar, Xenidis, found a few other moments to shine, offering inventive melodic leads that helped elevate the slower songs.

Behind the band, the music was embellished by special effects on giant video screens that stretched the length of the stage.

“How are we doing so far, ok?” Bon Jovi asked at several points.


Way better than that, dude. When a band works this hard, it gives arena-rock a good name.

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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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