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Bon Jovi Sells Out At Philly Arena 9 March 2003
80s pop-rockers survive to become touring institution

Source: The News Journal

Politicians, ugly buildings and pop-rock bands all eventually get respect if they're around long enough.

Bon Jovi, rock 'n' roll's newest "institution," played a sold-out two-hour-plus concert to fans of all ages Friday night at the First Union Center. Bon Jovi, a band that mysteriously survived the pop-metal death knell of the early '90s, played a set heavy on their sing-along arena hits as well as seven songs from "Bounce," the band's latest release.

Bon Jovi deserves credit for choosing to tour to promote an album rather than releasing an album as an excuse to tour. With 93 million albums sold worldwide, Bon Jovi has been forthright about their desire to hit the 100 million mark.

The night led off with the title track from "Bounce," an up-tempo number with a shouted chorus similar to Ricky Martin's "She Bangs." As a dancer, Jon Bon Jovi came across more like a cheerleader than like Mick Jagger as he bounced and skipped about the stage like a shadow-boxing aerobics instructor, waving his fists and pointing to the crowd.

Bon Jovi followed with three songs from their 1986 breakthrough record "Slippery When Wet," bookending "Wild in the Streets" with their former No. 1 singles "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Livin' on a Prayer." By giving pride of place to such old-school staples, Bon Jovi displayed no fear of losing an audience they'd won over from the start. Later highlights included an audience-sung first verse on "Wanted Dead or Alive" and the band's pull-out-all-the-stops comeback single from 2000, "It's My Life."

Jon Bon Jovi dedicated "The Distance" from "Bounce" to the armed forces, and provided unintentional comic relief when he forgot the words to the third verse of "Bed of Roses."

"How embarrassing is that?" he joked. "At least you know one thing, I'm singing the words."

Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora seemed curiously restrained in their singing on some of the band's biggest hits. Jon Bon Jovi delivered a flat "Runaway," which culminated in a "big rock show" instrumental rather than the vocal crescendo of the recorded version. As on the hits from "Slippery," he relied on the audience as a vocal member of the group, not so much leading the faithful in song but allowing the faithful to save his voice for the summer's outdoor arena dates.


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