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Jon Bon Jovi: The man and his band on the road 3 June 2006
The Independent article

Source: The Independent

To his critics, he's just an over-coiffed mediocrity. To his fans, he's a living rock god. To himself, he's just a kid from New Jersey who got very, very lucky. But one thing's for certain: Jon Bon Jovi's latest world tour is the quintessential rock'n'roll experience. Ed Caesar joins the man and his band on the road

You can tell who's in the band. They're the middle-aged guys acting like teenagers. Take guitarist Richie Sambora - full-length tracksuit, cap on back to front - high-fiving with the crew. Or Dave Bryan, hair falling in ludicrous blond curls, playing with the "strings" function on his synthesiser at ear-puncturing volume. Or Tico Torres, battering his drumkit like his dad just gave him his 15th birthday present. The only one not joining in is the serious-looking character up front.

It's Friday night in the Landeshaupstadt arena, Düsseldorf. The stadium, which tomorrow night will host 55,000 screaming fans, is deserted. Well, nearly. There's the band, of course, hundreds of roadies, uniformly massive and goateed like pro wrestlers, and the odd meddling journalist. But the sound fills the arena to bursting.

On stage, the boys are running a sound check. Mostly, that means making sure their instruments still sound very, very loud on the cliff-like banks of speakers. They fine-tune some new numbers while the crew scuttle around them, taping things down, fixing things up and carrying spare guitars. You know the rehearsal is going well because it's punctuated by regular whoops from Richie.

"That's it my brother...! Yeah, you got it going on...!"

Outside the stadium's service entrance, a fleet of black Mercedes waits, ready to spirit the band and a dozen members of the immediate entourage back to their Cologne hotel. And, in the production office, by Fortuna Düsseldorf football club's home dressing rooms, laptop-toting managers and producers are tweaking the operational details for tomorrow's opening-night extravaganza. One anxious facilitator approaches with a missive from Mr Bon Jovi.

"Jon wants to do this now."

If Bon Jovi is a business (and 100 million album sales is very definitely a business) then there is no doubting who is the CEO. Despite the vastness of the travelling team (the European leg of the Have a Nice Day world tour employs more than 130 managers, road staff, chiropractors, cocktail-shakers, lighting designers and flight attendants) they all share one verbal characteristic: they say the word "Jon" more than is natural, and with more reverence than might be thought seemly. And, over the coming weeks, not one of the employees of Bon Jovi Inc. will utter one negative word about their boss. Indeed, despite the bonhomie, the songwriting collaborations, and public declarations to the opposite, Jon Bon Jovi is Bon Jovi.

As the door to his dressing room is opened, there's a palpable shift in atmosphere outside, where half a dozen trusted deputies are stationed. Jon is short, but not tiny (think Michael Owen, not Tom Thumb), wearing a T-shirt tight enough for his tanned, muscular arms to get a good show. The hair, once the standing joke of the rock world, is more respectable in its 44th year than it was in its 21st - blond (artificially), a touch feathered, and shoulder length. The glare off his teeth could solve the world energy crisis. (He later admits, with a pinch of understatement, that he has "a close relationship" with his dentist.)


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