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Jon Bon Jovi lifts otherwise disappointing show in San Jose 4 March 2006
San Jose show review


MANY OF Bon Jovi's older songs haven't aged well, and the band's new material is pretty bad.
But the group features Jon Bon Jovi as its lead singer and that's all it really needs to be a fairly entertaining live band.

Bon Jovi, the man, proved once again Monday night at the HP Pavilion in San Jose that he's a master front man, one who borrows significantly from many of the all-time greats (including Bruce Springsteen, Steven Tyler and Mick Jagger) and translates it to the pop-metal arena.

He's the reason this show worked at all. It certainly wasn't because of the tracks featured from last year's "Have a Nice Day," the band's first album since 2002's "Bounce." In fact, some of those songs, notably the title track and "Who Says You Can't Go Home," made this critic want to cover his ears and not because the music was too loud.

Jon Bon Jovi just plain works hard for your money, in a way that fellow New Jersey homeboy Springsteen would certainly appreciate.

It started with the very first song, "Last Man Standing," as the lights went up and the husky-voiced singer appeared standing on a small elevated platform at the very back of the arena floor, while the rest of the band plugged away from the stage.

Dressed in a black military-style jacket and, of course, those tight faded jeans, Jon Bon Jovi was making a statement: Every fan in the house, not just those in the front rows, deserves to feel like part of the show.

It was such a crafty move, and it was so fun to see him walk back to the main stage through a sea of outstretched hands, that one almost overlooked the fact that it was a pretty ho-hum number to open the show.

But the concert wasn't ho-hum for long as the singer reached the stage and immediately gave the crowd a shot of adrenaline with the great rocker "You Give Love a Bad Name," one of several key numbers from 1986's blockbuster "Slippery When Wet."

From there, musically speaking, things quickly went downhill fast. The version of the new album's "Complicated" sounded like an oversimplified cross between glossy Loverboy and overwrought Third Eye Blind not a good thing. The over-the-top love paean "Born to Be My Baby," from 1988's lackluster home-state tribute "New Jersey," sounded like a John Mellencamp tune played on the wrong speed also not a good thing.


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