I love Jon Bon Jovi. I love his music, his work with the Soul Foundation, and I love how hard he works at his concerts to make every single person feel like he has come to perform just for them: not easy when you have up to 100,000 fans in front of you. I can go into iTunes and start from any track and play up to five or six albums without a break – and never get fed up of hearing any of them.
I discovered Bon Jovi in the middle of the 1980s. I don’t remember when or where I first heard it but I knew ‘Slippery When Wet’ was an important album and I played it a lot in between ‘Bat out of Hell’ and Elvis Presley’s Greatest Hits in my bedsit, then my flat and then my own first house.
Since then Jon Bon Jovi has pretty much written the songtrack to my life: I took my husband to see the ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead’ tour at Milton Keynes Bowl in 19th September 1993. They were supported by Billy Idol, who was rubbish, the Little Angels and Manic Street Preachers – they were both ace. I dragged my husband to the front on the left hand edge of the stage because I had seen a video where Jon runs right across from one side edge of the stage to the other, and for some reason believed he would do it again that day. He did: and I was rewarded with eye contact in response to my screaming ‘Jon Jon’ hysterically and very loudly as he approached our corner.
The ‘These Days’ tour hit England in May 1995. It was a hot summer and we went to the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield on the 28th June. It is mainly memorable for my strapless bra dropping off when I unhooked it jumping up and down like a maniac.
‘Crush’ was the last gig played at the old Wembly Stadium in 2000, and “due to popular demand” was extended into ‘One Wild Night’. I wasn’t keen on the album and even less on going to Wembly. Missing this was a reflection on how life can grind you down and you can lose sight of what’s important.
One of the best concerts ever was also one of my worst memories. At Old Trafford on 28th June 2003 the encores included ‘In these Arms’. Jon cracked a joke about David Beckham – the audience loved it. It was the summer my husband and I split up.
My children have been brought on Bon Jovi songs – my daughter actually learned all the lyrics to ‘Saturday Night’ just to be able to say ‘shit’ legitimately – she was 3. She still amuses me when she walks into a room and can join in with what ever track is playing. When my son began to learn to play the guitar, after the opening riff of ‘Smoke on the Water’ he swiftly moved on to some of Richie’s solos. I was pretty impressed when he came into the sitting room one evening whilst a Bon Jovi concert was on the television declaring ‘I can play this’ … and he did, and most of the rest of the concert as well.
G M’s first concert was at the City of Manchester on 4th June 2006, the ‘Have a Nice Day’ tour. We had amazing seats and I made it all the more memorable for him when Jon said he liked ladies in stilettos: I jumped up and waved one of mine in the air, shouting, ‘I’m here for you !’
Two years later we were back at the Manchester City ground on the 22nd June 2008 with E as well this time. This time the seats were close to the edge of the stage, but we had to move: the sound was being blocked out by the scaffolding. Jon become a dot in the distance but the sound was amazing. This was the summer one of GM’s friend’s father told him he had met Pete Waterman through work: Waterman had told him there was no money in pop music anymore. That year Bon Jovi sold 57, 235 tickets for Manchester gig – the tour sold 2,026,671 tickets and grossed $189,106,454. (Only the Newark gig sold less than 100% of the tickets – at 99% but with 138,322 tickets sold and the gross revenue at $16,379,070 Jon probably didn’t notice the empty seats.)
Jon described Manchester Cricket Ground 23th June 2011 like “taking a shower with 100,000 of his closest friends”. I was one of them. Neither GM or E complained about the pouring rain. Jon had his knee strapped up and hobbled around on stage – and worked his bollocks off. It was also memorable because it was the first concert I had stood up for since Milton Keynes. Everyone was smoking like mad and dropping cigarette ends on to the plastic ground sheet. It was covered in thousands of little holes by the time we left. It was also memorable as E’s first real taste of rock toilet culture: lads using public open air urinals!
Bon Jovi “What About Now” Album: 5 new songs
0:00 / 25:57
At this moment there are the latest tour ticket receipts from Ticketmaster on the fridge. Manchester Etihad Stadium – Saturday 8th June- ‘Because We Can’ – class !!! When the tour was announced neither child asked ‘if’ we were going. It was a ‘given’. It’s what we do – because we can. Have a nice day.
June 8th 2013 Because We Can Tour
Pretty excited. Normally worried about the journey- traffic jams and breakdowns. I imagine the entire world of disasters is out there waiting for me. But this time, because this is the third trip to the Etihad, I know we can park at the stadium and the best time to arrive to park close to the entrance is around 6. We sailed past all the ‘Concert Parking’ signs and conmen waving us up back streets up to 3 miles from the stadium. They really are despicable people: all the first timers will get caught and on the way home we will pass hundreds of people still hobbling back to the cars up to 50 minutes away from the Etihad. I feel so sorry for them.
I love the Etihad. The walkway up to the stadium is a huge bridge over the Manchester Canal and tram line. It’s like a grown-up’s fairground without the rides inside – there’s a party atmosphere, and despite thousands of people of all shapes and sizes the dozens of security men wander around and chat helpfully ensuring everyone feels like they are in their local park. We see four policemen the whole evening.
And then you take in the sheer number of people in the ground – tens of thousands of them. Fat, balding middle-aged men; trios of women of all ages, shapes and sizes; pairs of teenage, geeky lads. Young professional couples. Hardened leather-clad rockers. They are all here.
It’s low chattiness and very calm. It’s sunny. The picnic in the park atmosphere continues. And then POW !!!! A chord – lights flash – the band, like ants appear on stage – and then the roar !!! Jon is pounding out the first lines of the evening and it’s loud ! The bass vibrates the water bottle in your hand and you can feel the vibes on your chest! This is what you can’t get from a CD no matter how loud your stereo. This is stadium rock. And there is nothing like it.
He’s got three hours to fill – and no RIchie Sambora to string out songs with ten minute guitar solos. No problem. Cleverly, anything with a serious lead guitar is left out of the set list and Jon takes the opportunity to run out an extensive back catalogue – beginning with ‘Runaway’. The two geeky 16 years olds know all the words. Slightly scary.
50 year old women are up and dancing and clapping – average dress size 16 – 20. Enough hair dye to rinse the sea. Enough flab to drown whales. A few blonde dolly-birds in stilletoes and tiny tight tops wobble on their heels. Grey-haired men who spend most of their time in front of televisions with their tea on their lap are standing up and kind of waving their arms around. Every now and then a pair of fat hands at the end of even fatter arms nearly meet in the air over their heads – this is the closest they have come to a work-out since the last Bon Jovi gig. They too know all the lyrics.
And on it goes – hit after hit – anthem after anthem. Two hours and Jon does ‘his cover’ – Robbie’s ‘Let Me Entertain You’ – the crowd love the cheek – and love him more than ever.
Into the third hour it does start to get scary. No way is He getting out of Manchester without ‘Tommy and GIna’ – everyone knows that. The ‘fresh’ set list has so far worked and no-one has bothered about RIchie. And then the talkbox goes on the stand-in lead guitarist’s mic stand. The die-hards instantly recognise it for what it is: “Wo wo wo wo Tommy used to work on the docks … ” The crowd goes mental …. And join in – Jon is temporarily redundant … And then the bravest man alive steps forward and takes a deep breath as he pysches himself for the best known and best loved solo of the whole she-bang … And absolutely dies on his feet … oh my God … Richie ! You bastard !!! Get your act together !! Where are you ?
‘You Give Love a Bad Name’ and ‘Bad Medicine’ are worse. To give the guy – and the crowd – credit, the second solo of ‘Bad Medicine’ wasn’t too bad and the fans gave him a hearty round of applause – but even he must have known it was for effort not attainment.
And then Jon hits ‘Always’ and all is forgiven in an instant, and we move on with the encore, finishing with ‘Saturday Night’. A triumph. Best one ever (we say this every time). Richie who ?
Richie who indeed. I spend all of Sunday morning listening to Youtube live performances of Richie’s classics to wash out the ‘noise’ and ineptitude of even one of the best stand-ins available – “You’d better be back for the next one, Babe, because I’m not doing that without you again.” Jon is the heart and head of Bon Jovi – but Richie is the soul and there is simply no getting away from it. Apparently they did ‘Bed of Roses’ and ‘Dry County’ at Birmingham – glad I missed that …