NY show revire by The Star-Ledger
Bon Jovi kicked off its Monday night concert at Madison Square Garden with "Last Man Standing," a song from its recent "Have a Nice Day" album that glorifies bands whose singers don't lip sync, and whose musicians "really play." Bands, in other words, like Bon Jovi.
"Keep your pseudo-punk hip-hop pop-rock junk, and your digital downloads," snarled frontman Jon Bon Jovi.
Rooted in both the Jersey Shore bar-band scene and the '80s pop-metal explosion -- and not particularly interested in expanding its artistic parameters beyond that -- these guys couldn't be less trendy these days. But as a concert act, they're still remarkably fresh. At Monday's two hour, 20-minute show, they strung together one buoyant hit after another, and the capacity crowd could not have been more enthusiastic.
"We have found some believers in the house now!" Jon roared, like a preacher, after a warmly received "Raise Your Hands."
Two members of Southside Johnny's Asbury Jukes -- guitarist Bobby Bandiera and keyboardist Jeff Kazee -- are joining the band on this tour, giving it a bigger, richer sound. Still, few songs strayed far from the original arrangements.
The few surprises were minor ones. A truncated version of the Young Rascals' "Good Lovin' " segued into "Bad Medicine," and a manic cover of Roy Head's "Treat Her Right" appeared as one of the encores. "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" became more dance-oriented, with a smoother groove than the original version. The band gave "Always," a big 1994 hit, an atmospheric, Europop spin, much like it did on its 2003 collection of re-recordings, "This Left Feels Right."
Songs from the "Have a Nice Day" album were, like much of the older material, catchy, but studded with clichés. "I've been there, done that, I ain't looking back, it's been a long, long road," Jon sang in "Who Says You Can't Go Home."
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