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Bon Jovi -- sans Sambora -- rocks MetLife Stadium 16 September 2013
The Star-Ledger article

Source: The Star-Ledger -

Well, sure, he was missed. Jon Bon Jovi without Richie Sambora is like the Lone Ranger without Tonto. Despite rumors to the contrary, guitarist Sambora, who jumped ship earlier this year for reasons that still haven't been clarified, wasn't present at Bon Jovi's homecoming show at MetLife Stadium on Thursday night. Whatever is going on between the two most famous figures in one of New Jersey's most famous rock bands has not yet been resolved.

Bon Jovi rolls on nonetheless — in the drizzle, on an unseasonably damp night, hoodie weather in late July, playing its hard rock hits and power ballads like nothing has changed. The two-and-three-quarters-hour show, which wrapped up just before midnight, might have been a tick below the average Bon Jovi concert in quality. Mostly, it was the same hardworking, meat-and-potatoes rock show that the Central Jersey group has been playing for the past two decades at least.

If you're a Bon Jovi fan and you're considering skipping the Because We Can tour out of loyalty to Sambora, you should probably give in to temptation and get that ticket. Eventually they're going to kiss and make up, right? They'll both forgive you when they do.

Sambora's shoes were filled by a pair of guitarists: Shore six-string ace and frequent Bon Jovi collaborator Bobby Bandiera and session man Phil X. Both tore off serviceable leads. Neither attempted to mimic Sambora's style — Phil X's legato phrasing was more reminiscent of lyrical Slash, and the talented, fiery Bandiera just sounded like his bad self.

Sambora's distinctive support vocals, which have been a critical ingredient in Bon Jovi's music for years, turned out to be harder to approximate than his guitar playing. Synth player David Bryan did his best.

The silver lining to Sambora's absence was that the other two supporting members of Bon Jovi got more chances to shine. Drummer Tico Torres was rock solid as always, and Bryan, who is now as well known for his Tony awards for the "Memphis" score as he is for his role in Bon Jovi, had his parts and his showmanship pushed to the fore.


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