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Crowd In A.C. Boardwalk Hall Jumps To Time-tested Rock Music of Bon Jovi 24 February 2003
Atlantic City review


ATLANTIC CITY - After the homecoming Bon Jovi received Sunday at Boardwalk Hall, maybe the band won't wait another 20 years to come back to town.

The New Jersey-bred rock group, led by singer Jon Bon Jovi and guitarist Richie Sambora, played its first show in the city in its storied 20-year existence. By the reaction of the sold-out crowd of approximately 12,000, it was worth the wait.

"This is really the first year we've seen concerts of this magnitude here on a regular basis," said Steve Bonanni, 41, of Brigantine. "It's great to see acts like Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen being booked here."

On tour to promote its latest album "Bounce," Bon Jovi had the crowd in a frenzy from the start.

Opening with the title track from its latest album, it followed with older fan favorites "You Give Love a Bad Name," "Wild in the Streets" and the scorching "Livin' on a Prayer," which like many other songs turned into a sing-along.

The band performed in front of three large satellite receivers that served double duty, reminding the crowd of its "Bounce" album cover as well as serving as three giant video screens.

The show also featured some pretty amazing lights and a laser show.

By the end of the night, the band played a great mix of its hits, including "Wanted Dead or Alive," "Runaway," "Born to Be My Baby" and "I'll Be There For You."

The band also performed songs from its comeback album "Crush," which spawned the huge hit "It's My Life," which went over extremely well Sunday.

The band also played a bunch of songs off its latest release that were warmly received despite the album's less-than-stellar sales.

"Everyday," for which the band received a Best Pop Performance Grammy nomination, was one of the night's highlights. That Grammy award went to the band No Doubt on Sunday night.

Dressed in a blue tank top and tight black pants, Jon Bon Jovi, despite being 40 years old, posed for his fans like the poster boy he used to be.

Still trim, still boyish in looks and voice, and certainly still energetic, Jon Bon Jovi had the female contingent of the crowd swooning as they screamed at the movie and television star like he was a member of the Beatles.

Although the band has been around for 20 years, the main reason Atlantic City never hosted Bon Jovi before was because there wasn't a venue big enough to hold them.

With the newly remodeled Boardwalk Hall, it seemed like a natural fit, much like Springsteen, for Bon Jovi to finally debut in Atlantic City.

"We've been around for how long?" Jon Bon Jovi asked. "Well, this is the first time we played Atlantic City, and you have a reputation to uphold."

The band seemed to enjoy the warm reception from the Atlantic City crowd.

Sambora, dressed in a Sgt. Pepper's-like jacket and a cowboy hat, laid down some killer riffs and proved that Bon Jovi is certainly more than a one-man band.

The fans lucky enough to get tickets for the show (it sold out in less than a day) were living evidence of why Bon Jovi remains relevant today while other '80s hair bands have all but fallen from the face of the earth.

"I think they lasted as long as they have because they are smart enough to change with the times," said Patti Strong, 52, of Syracuse, N.Y. "They never lost their roots, and people relate to them. When you think about New Jersey, you think about Springsteen and Bon Jovi."

"They keep it real," added Jeeneine Speicher, 33, of Bayville. "They perform from the heart, and that's why they're still here."

Keeping it real is one of the reasons the band has sold nearly 100 million records worldwide and continues to sell out its live shows around the world, including the long-awaited one Sunday in Atlantic City.

"I was stunned they were coming here," Strong said. "It's a small place for them to play, but after I thought about it, it makes sense. They wanted the people down here to be able to see what they're all about."

Area businesses, including Planet Hollywood in Caesars Atlantic City, were thrilled about the arrival of Bon Jovi as well as the Alan Jackson concert on Saturday for obvious reasons.


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