"Nostalgia fuels crowd at Bon Jovi's sold-out show"
The knee-jerk response to Bon Jovi's massive comeback is a resounding: Why? The new Bon Jovi sounds just like the old Bon Jovi, which never sounded like a band that would endure half a minute past it's defining decade. By what twist of pop-culture fate did this '80s hair-metal band manage to resurrect it's fist-pumping, overjelled self and become the first act to sell out the Tweeter Center this season?
Never underestimate the power of nostalgia, especially for feel-good anthems that blared from a million car radios as their drivers raced through their mildly misspent youths. The packed crowd at the Tweeter Center last night was so enthusiastic they stood through the ballads - the rock 'n' roll litmus test for true devotion.
The band walked out in gang formation, as if returning to the Jersey street corner where it all began. And so it went with the music, new and old mixing seamlessly in the refracted glow of frontman Jon Bon Jovi's feathered locks and painted-on jeans. One song bled into the next, occasionally identified by a hook that's become imprinted on the collective unconscious. The feeling was one of sinking deeper and deeper in a time warp, which this concert was from the lighter-waving beginning (''One Wild Night'') to the raucous end (a loud, stiff cover of ''Twist & Shout'').
The notable exception was guitarist Richie Sambora's performance of ''Stranger in this Town,'' the title track from his solo CD. The sweetly melodic blues, and Sambora's nimble, naturally soulful singing, was a breath of air in a show that rarely veered from the connect-the-dots rockers and paint-by-numbers ballads that are Bon Jovi's stock-in-trade. Sambora, the proverbial Perry to Bon Jovi's strutting and pouting Tyler, was given plenty of time in the spotlight; his pristine, searing solos were the work of a seasoned pro whose dues are paid up.
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