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MCI Center show review 4 February 2006
From Richmond Times-Dispatch

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch

WASHINGTON Jon Bon Jovi looked exhausted. Gray circles ringed his eyes, an occasional wan smile toward his adoring throng replaced his usual onstage aerobics, and, aside from some soft thank-yous, patter was nonexistent.

Band morale likely took a hit when, a few hours before Thursday's show, news broke that Heather Locklear, wife of guitarist Richie Sambora, had filed for divorce in Los Angeles.

But Sambora, who could have justifiably pawned the heavy lifting off on his bandmates, instead frequently carried Bon Jovi - filling in swallowed choruses, offering meaty solos and providing some visual flash in his leopard-print hat and red velvet jacket.

There was plenty of chest hair on display at Bon Jovi's sold-out MCI Center date (its second within two months), and initially Jon Bon Jovi played his favorite role of self-possessed rock star with typical panache.

Launching the two-hour show from the back of the arena with the new "Last Man Standing," a crunchy rocker bemoaning the dwindling state of such rock stars, Bon Jovi proved himself worthy of the title.

He's got the perfectly coiffed mane, the perfectly straight teeth and the effortless cool that still - 25 years into a career - make women squeal and persuade men to shell out $100 to soak up his aura.

But after a taut "You Give Love a Bad Name," which really can be retired, and the little-played "The Radio Saved My Life Tonight," Jon Bon Jovi began to visibly wither. Thanks to the mammoth, multimillion-dollar LED screen that amplified every trickle of sweat with startling clarity, there was no hiding the weariness on Bon Jovi's pallid face.

His sharp, nasal voice filtered crisply through the crowd of more than 15,000, and he delivered "Story of My Life," the strongest tune on the band's middling "Have a Nice Day" album, with heartfelt thoughtfulness. But there was little pep in his step when he slapped hands with the two pockets of fans onstage or meandered onto a side catwalk.

Now in its fourth month, this tour has kept the band at a frantic pace. Nights off are few, and, with most of the shows sold out, scaling back is not an option. It was somehow ironic, then, when Bon Jovi crooned the band's most meaningful song, "Just Older," which directly addresses the reality of not being a 22-year-old beer chugger anymore.


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