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It All Sounds Familiar, and That’s Just Fine 14 July 2008
New York Times Central Park review

Source: New York Times

Arms waved overhead, hands clapped, fists pumped and thousands of voices shared choruses when Bon Jovi played a free concert on Saturday night on the Great Lawn of Central Park.

“I want them to hear it all the way to Jersey,” the lead singer, Jon Bon Jovi, declared. Actually, it seemed as if a good part of New Jersey was already in the park, primed for the multimillion-selling band that came out of Sayreville, N.J.

The Bon Jovi concert started a week of baseball-themed incursions by suburban pop hitmakers to New York City’s landmarks. Many of the 67,500 tickets to the show on Saturday night were distributed at local ballparks. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s office estimated the 48,500 people filled the park’s Great Lawn, where the stage was set up, and many others heard the band from elsewhere in the park.

Major League Baseball presented the concert to promote the All-Star Game that takes place Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. Then, on Wednesday and Friday, Long Island’s favorite son, Billy Joel, is to play the last two rock concerts at the Mets’ home field, Shea Stadium. (Both the Mets and Yankees will play at new stadiums next year.)

For Bon Jovi, the Great Lawn was just another big arena for the songs that have kept the band on the radio since the mid-1980s. Bon Jovi plays consummate arena rock: It’s satisfying precisely because it’s predictable. Mr. Bon Jovi flashed a smile that’s still boyish and let the breeze blow his shirt open as he strutted across the stage before a sleek, high-tech backdrop — strings of lights that doubled as a video screen. The guitarist Richie Sambora brandished his instruments through solos that spiraled dependably from fast runs up to wailing high-note climaxes. For interludes in their songs, Bon Jovi switched to venerable frat-party material, “Twist and Shout” and “Shout.”


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