Having seen Bon Jovi only once back in 2001 – he tours the USA and South America but skips Mexico, damn it!– I resolved to catch him this year in the opposite side of the Atlantic. I moved to Ireland months before they hit the road, so I just waited confidently.
Am I cursed? Guess what European country Bon Jovi did not visit now? Exactly! No dates scheduled for Ireland! Astonished, I later found that every show in the UK was sold out! Well, almost every show: I was lucky enough to get one ticket for the Manchester gig, yet it was the furthest seat, behind the very last row! There I was in my secluded spot, detached from the bulk of the audience, crammed between the wall and the roof. But my location made no difference. Bon Jovi made his fans yell, dance, sing, jump and shiver.
Living On A Prayer, followed by You Give Love A Bad Name, erupted pure 80's vibe. The 40,000 attendants were carried away in a musical roller coaster for two hours and a half. As usual, the set-list was conceived as to gratify whims: I'd Die For You, Captain Crash And The Beauty Queen From Mars, Blaze Of Glory and Dry County were mingled with the staples (Born To Be My Baby, I'll Be There For You, In These Arms, It's My Life) and several cuts from the new album Lost Highway: the title track, Whole Lot Of Leaving, We Got It Going On, Any Other Day, I Love This Town (the latter three strung together as the first encore).
The peaks of the show, no doubt, were: Always, wherein Bon screamed his lungs out; Sleep When I'm Dead – introduced by Tico Torres's mischievous drumming –, blended into Twist And Shout; and Diamond Ring, with Bon and Richie Sambora alone on stage!
More favorites (Have A Nice Day, Bad Medicine), were played to an exhilarated crowd. Not relenting after 20 odd songs, the band returned for Saturday Night, closing with Dead Or Alive. Although the magic ride was over, the spell was not broken. We clapped till our hands were sore and left the venue with a swollen heart.
Bon Jovi gave a definite lesson, not to musicians in particular, but to any entertainer. Two decades ago he climbed his way to the top, and retains his position high above any of his peers because of his intensity and sincerity. As his anthem goes: "an angel's smile is what you sell, you promise me heaven" ... and he sent us straight!