The Star-Ledger article
|Jon Bon Jovi sings for a favorite charity at Starland Ballroom
"You did a good deed," Jon Bon Jovi told the sold-out house at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, at the conclusion of his ninety-minute concert.
He'd led his seventeen(!) piece group through rock classics ("Start Me Up," "So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star") and pop-soul favorites ("Glad All Over" by the Dave Clark Five, Wilson Pickett's "634-5789"), made room onstage for Southside Johnny for a few numbers, and vacated the premises for a fifteen-minute stretch while his band of Friends took center stage.
He did some of his own material, too. Sixteen songs into the show, Bon Jovi gave the crowd what it wanted the most, playing "Wanted, Dead or Alive," "You Give Love a Bad Name," "Who Says You Can't Go Home," and "We Weren't Born to Follow," the lead single from "The Circle" LP. Later, he'd encore with an acoustic -- and considerably defamiliarized -- version of "Living on a Prayer," his signature song.
The show -- not quite a Bon Jovi concert, and not quite a blithe classic pop revue -- was held to benefit the Parker Family Health Center, a clinic in Red Bank. The Center provides primary care, immunization, mammograms, diabetes treatments, and other services for Monmouth County residents (the Parker Family clinic counts 85,000) who are underinsured or uninsured. Bon Jovi spoke about the importance of the Parker Family Health Center between songs, and discussed his own continuing commitment to its operation. He talked about the clinic without rock star bluster; he was conversational, and, at times, emotional.
That gravity colored his performances. He opened the show with a slow acoustic rendition of the Beatles' "Help," turned "Lonely" (a song from the "Lost Highway" sessions) into a plaintive entreaty, and, most remarkably, stripped the usual triumphalism from "Livin' On a Prayer." Instead of soaring to the high chorus, he altered the melody, kept his voice low, and allowed his six-voice choir to sing the hook. On Thursday night, Gina and Tommy weren't just defiant rock and rollers: They were broke kids lost in the system, maybe a little frightened, too -- people, Bon Jovi implied, who might need the services of the Parker Family Health Clinic. This reimagining stripped some of the exhilaration from the song, but it demonstrated its flexibility. "Livin' on a Prayer" is more than just an arena-rock shoutalong.
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