The Star-Ledger article
|A man down at MetLife Stadium, Bon Jovi perseveres
Images of Jon Bon Jovi’s beloved Jersey Shore rolled on a windshield big enough to stretch across MetLife Stadium. The front of the model vintage car was the stage — Bon Jovi sang in the grill, just above a vanity plate (Jersey, of course) — and the massive trunk was topped by a video monitor.
As one of the Garden State’s proudest hometown rock bands played "Who Says You Can’t Go Home," 55,000 ticketholders were shown happy sights from Sea Bright, Wildwood and other towns bruised by Hurricane Sandy. This was a cruise through a Shore resurgent, and the grinning, leonine Jon Bon Jovi, who recently donated a million dollars to restoration efforts, was in the driver’s seat.
Yet his familiar partner wasn’t riding shotgun. Richie Sambora, Bon Jovi’s lead guitarist and onstage foil, jumped the Because We Can Tour in April for reasons that still haven’t been clarified. As Jon Bon Jovi has increasingly sought to represent himself as a philanthropist, family man and pillar of the community, Sambora has remained the group’s main link to hard rock, blues and general rock ’n’ roll wildness. The frontman didn’t directly address Sambora’s absence, but did thank fans for their patience; he sounded like a harried dad apologizing for the recalcitrance of his children.
With Sambora missing, Jon Bon Jovi is free to continue an ongoing project of his: repositioning his group. He has long since shed the trappings of his delirious hair-metal past; these days, he seems intent on forgoing the heavy stuff in favor of heartland rock and romantic ballads. "What About Now," the latest Bon Jovi album, is a reach for significance, with many songs addressing the emotional consequences of economic malaise and the plight of the modern blue-collar worker. At a Thursday night concert that ran 2¾ hours (the band will be back at the Stadium tonight), Bon Jovi played three earnest songs from the album, including lead single "Because We Can," a story of grown-up romance in hard times.
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