Bon Jovi, Kid Rock deliver fun times in Foxboro

A review of Bon Jovi, Kid Rock at Gillette Stadium on July 24, 2010

, Editor-in-Chief
“If you’re not having fun up here, you must be dead,” cracked Jon Bon Jovi halfway through the band’s set at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night. And fun is just what the veteran New Jersey rockers delivered to the sold out crowd of over 51,000.

For the band’s third headlining gig at the home of the Patriots, Bon Jovi opened with “Blood on Blood” off 1988’s New Jersey. The song of loyalty and friendship was a perfect fit and quickly got the crowd going. From there, they moved onto their new single, “We Weren’t Born To Follow”, as Jon propelled the crowd to their raise their hands to the inspiring tune while a video of famous leaders was projected on stage. It was the first of only three songs played off the band’s new album, The Circle, as the band stuck mostly to the fan favorites. From the arena rock anthems of old (“You Give Love A Bad Name”), to the power ballads (“Bed Of Roses”), to the straight up rock revivals (“It’s My Life”), and on to the their more recent country-fied hits (“Lost Highway”), Bon Jovi delivered from all parts of their hit-laden catalouge.

It wasn’t all perfect as there were a couple of duds sprinkled into the band’s set, most notably “We Got It Going On.” But for the most part, Jon, guitarist Richie Sambora, drummer Tico Torres and keyboardist David Bryan (with touring members Hugh McDonald on bass and Bobby Bandiera on guitar) came together to form a well-oiled rock machine. Midway through the band’s main set, Bon Jovi rocked through fan favorite “Bad Medicine” before breaking it down as Jon looked for some fun jukebox music from his bandmates. Bryan answered the call by kicking into Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock & Roll” and soon opener Kid Rock (and some of his crew) joined the band on stage for the clear highlight of the night. After Kid Rock departed, Bon Jovi got the crowd jumping with another classic in “Shout” before returning with ease to “Bad Medicine” for another few choruses.

The band changed it up with Sambora delivering “Lay Your Hands On Me” while Jon took a break. The vocals were a little rough but it was a welcome change compared to his more usual rendition of “I’ll Be There For You.” Jon would return at the top of the stage’s massive catwalk that jetted out from both sides of the stage and into crowd to form a circle, to deliver a solo acoustic rendition of “Bed Of Roses”. It was disappointing not to see the frontman use the catwalk more often but understandable given his recent calf injury. And despite remaining more stationary than normal, Jovi still had the crowd in the palm of his hand all night. Sambora joined Jon on the catwalk as the two men through an acoustic rendition of “I’ll Be There For You” before Torres (with a tambourine) and Bryan (with an accordion) also made their way out to the walkway for a unique take on “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night.”

Bon Jovi returned to the main stage for back-to-back renditions of new tunes, the sweeping U2-esque “When We Were Beautiful” and the more gritty blue-collar anthem “Working Man”. Both would have been better placed earlier in the night but the crowd was back in force for “Have A Nice Day” and “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” before the band closed out the main set with “Keep the Faith” (complete with unnecessary cheesy graphics of fireworks combined over the band’s live video feed on the stage screens).

With the crowd roaring for more, Bon Jovi returned to start a four-song encore with a sing-along of “Always”, which only grew even loader as the band followed with their best song, “Wanted Dead Or Alive”. “I Love This Town” served as the bridge to the band’s biggest hit, karaoke staple and set-closer “Living On A Prayer”.

Bon Jovi will always be a well-polished arena rock staple but  one of only a few bands that can make the step up to stadiums with ease. Of course, over the past decade, they have made it easier by making some wise choices when selecting their opening acts. This year, they enlisted Detroit’s Kid Rock and he executed the task of getting the crowd going early with perfection. Rock opened his hour-long set with “Rock ‘N Roll Jesus”, the title track of his last album released in 2008. “You Never Met A Motherfucker Quite Like Me” followed before a surprisingly early rendition of “All Summer Long” as Kid Rock made great use of the stage and catwalk. Even more surprising was the multitude of cover songs that were included in his set: Sly & The Family Stone’s “Everyday People”, Jamey Johnson’s “In Color” (a song he called one of the best released in the past couple of years before singing it from his piano), and Waylon Jennings’ “Good ‘ol Boys”.

Kid Rock is all about fusing a variety of genres together, from rock and rap to country and blues and seemingly everything in-between, all while being a cocky showman. It’s why some love him, others hate him and many more appreciate him after catching one of his live performances. Towards the end of his set, Kid Rock took time to show off many of those talents during an extended jam session with his Twisted Brown Trucker band. He started at the turntables, scratching away while also making a glass of Jim Beam for himself, then onto the guitar and finally drums as he sang along to Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever”. Excessive? Yes. Entertaining? Very much so. He closed the set with two of his heavier rock hits, “So Hott” and his 1999 breakthrough hit “Bawitdaba”.

The show began with a 30-minute set from local standouts Mission Hill, who won the opportunity to rock for the early arrivals at Gillette through a contest on OurStage. The band took full advantage of the opportunity by showcasing a few of their own songs including “Crazy” and “It’s Only Love” as well as covers of “All Along the Watchtower” and “Feel Like Makin’ Love”. With a polished pop-rock sound with elements of Bon Jovi included, it’s safe to say the band won over a bunch of new fans on Saturday. Be sure to check out one of their upcoming club shows, which includes a Thursday night residency at Hennessy’s Hooley House in September.

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