Bon Jovi rocks the Garden

A review of Bon Jovi at the TD Banknorth Garden on July 5, 2008

, Staff Writer

From the shores of New Jersey to the coastline of Massachusetts, Bon Jovi kicked off the weekend in Beantown with a phenomenal show at the TD Banknorth Garden on Thursday night. With only three dates left on their year-long Lost Highway Tour (this was stop #95!), the boys showed no signs of slowing down. In fact, they turned out one of the best performances the Hub has seen this year.&

With a fantastic set list that even impressed Boston Music Spotlight’s C.O.O. (see review from Mohegan Sun), the forty something quartet from Sayreville, New Jersey took the audience on a 2+ hour journey through their ‘jukebox of hits’.& &

After opening the show with the title track from Lost Highway, the band took us on a stroll back in time to the 80’s with "Born to Be My Baby" from their 1988 album New Jersey, "You Give Love a Bad Name", crowd favorite "Raise Your Hands" off 1986’s Slippery When Wet, and the band’s 1984 breakout hit "Runaway".

With the audience begging for more, the band played, "I Love This Town", which was accompanied by a video montage highlighting the recent success of Boston sports teams and a shout out from Jon Bon Jovi himself to the "Home of Champions!"& & &

Next up was an extended version of "I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead" from the 1992 disc Keep the Faith, complete with Jon showing his playful side, channeling Mick Jagger for a jam of the Rolling Stones hit "Start Me Up."& Bon Jovi literally had the audience, and himself, in stitches as he danced and swayed his hips – Mick would have been proud!

Bringing things back to present day, the band then played a string of songs from their 2007 album Lost Highway, including "Whole Lot of Leavin’, "Any Other Day" and "Summertime".&

Nearly an hour into the set, one would have expected things to slow down a bit, but the band demonstrated their stamina and actually picked things up for "We Got It Going On", and "It’s My Life", after which the crowd showed the band their appreciation with a deafening (think Garden level!) applause, that appeared to genuinely humble the seasoned front-man, who graciously flashed that million dollar smile and said "Forget New Jersey, let’s move to Boston".

After a touching exchange between Bon Jovi and lead guitarist Richie Sambora about life, love and friendship, Bon Jovi left the stage briefly and handed over lead vocal to his friend and birthday boy Sambora (who turned 49 on July 11th) for a soulful rendition of "I’ll Be There for You", a song that was written nearly two decades ago yet speaks volumes to the present day relationship that these men have developed both on and off stage.

Re-appearing on a secondary stage in the middle of the arena, Bon Jovi serenaded the audience with two romantic ballads, "(You Want) to Make a Memory" and "Always", and was literally mauled by the throngs of females fans as he tried to make it back to the main stage for "Have A Nice Day".

It was a nice day indeed. As the stage morphed into a giant monitor and sexy dancers flashed on the LCDs above, the band closed out the main set with "Bad Medicine", complete with a jam of "Shout". After a short break the band returned to the stage, where the Bon Jovi gushed that "one of the brightest days of my life, was the day I met Richie" and promptly sang (along with the capacity crowd) a heartfelt "Happy Birthday".

The duo then teamed up for the highlight of the evening, a full acoustic version of "Wanted Dead or Alive". Prior to singing the crowd favorite, the front man said that "he wanted to sing the song just like he and Richie had written it". Mission accomplished Jon, the version was incredibly intimate and literally made the audience feel as if we were back in 1986 in Richie’s Mom’s basement.&

Whether it was the fantastic set list, the elaborate stage show, the undeniable chemistry and genuine affection that the band mates have for one another, or Jon Bon Jovi’s sexy mega-watt smile, Bon Jovi has perfected a formula that has defined not only their success for the past 25 years, but serves to inspire the next generation of musicians.

Opening in support of Bon Jovi on the final leg of the tour, All American Rejects, capitalized on the rare opportunity to tour with a band that has inspired them. The Oklahoma natives tried out some new music from their yet to be released third studio album, including "Mona Lisa", and also played some fan favorites, closing out their thirty minute set with "It Ends Tonight" and "Move Along".& While their set was a bit short, they sounded great and did their job, warmed up the audience with a strong energetic performance.&

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