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Bon Jovi Bounces Into Town To Rock, But Ignores the Ballads 4 March 2003
Chicago show newspaper review

Source: Chicago Sun-Times

Damn you New Jersey. If your citizens don't seek refuge in Florida first you spew them back onto the road time and time again: Bruce Springsteen, Frank Lautenberg and the boys of Bon Jovi.

Jon Bon Jovi, who has harmlessly rocked and crooned America's Aqua-Net generation for two decades, shook his booty into its 41st year Saturday at the United Center as the band's "Bounce" tour touched down in Chicago--a city, Bon Jovi told the crowd, that has been "good to Jersey boys."

And while the crowd was dotted with signs wishing Jon a happy birthday--he was born on March 2, 1961--there was no evidence that the big 4-1 would slow him down.

Spry? Forget spry. (Begin Jersey accent here) He was a freaking golden retriever out there (end accent). He bounded from end to end during a two-hour set and five-song encore that ranged from new material such as the radio-clinging "Misunderstood" to classics such as "Livin' on a Prayer" and "Runaway." The encore came complete with a Marilyn Monroe look-alike that popped out of a cake and sang happy birthday to Bon Jovi as the sold-out crowd followed suit.

While Jon was as youthful and as tight-panted as ever, the rest of the fellas looked as though they may have been knocked from their local barstools by a Michael Strahan sack. Richie Sambora, David Bryan and Tico Torres are a long way from their super-suave "New Jersey" days, but they still hold it down.

Guitarist and celebri-husband Sambora-Locklear laced the show with several solos, delighting the crowd with a loosely blues-tinged interpretation of "I'll Be There for You." Though any weaknesses in his singing were easily covered up by an arena stuffed with fans belting out the tune as if they were stuck on the Ike during rush hour.

And the ability of Torres and Bryan to carry the key-heavy drive of '80s rock songs was particularly evident in a show that was surprisingly and pleasantly light on power ballads.

There was, for example, no "Bed of Roses," which surely disappointed about a quarter of the crowd, who were young enough to have been conceived to the song. But for the most part, Saturday's show belonged to women like those in Section 112 who proudly rocked original "You Give Love a Bad Name" T-shirts and sang the first verse of "Wanted Dead or Alive" a cappella as Sambora and Bon Jovi sat back to watch what they had created.

Always supporters of the elaborate, this time out Bon Jovi's set was modeled after the art of the album "Bounce," with three gigantic satellite dishes that swung toward the crowd revealing television screens. There were no pyrotechnics, but lights, lasers and smoke machines were used to give the effect of pink swamp gas and green moths caught in the spotlight.

The screens were used to show vignettes that accompanied songs, like the hackneyed images of patriotism and self-sacrifice that accompanied "Undivided."


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