Something was missing at the Bon Jovi concert on Friday night, but it certainly wasn't fan enthusiasm.
The set list was balanced by playing 8 songs from the 80s, 4 from the 90s, 8 from the 2000s, 3 brand new tracks, and one full cover. Over twenty songs were performed, including a medley of "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" (Bon Jovi original), "Dancing in the Street" (Martha & The Vandellas), and "Start Me Up" (Rolling Stones), as well as closing out the entire show with a post-encore rendition of the Isley Brothers "Twist & Shout." All but three of the twelve albums produced by the 80s rock outfit were represented. The album that got the most attention was not the album that has sold 28 million copies worldwide, Slippery When Wet. It wasn't the 18 million-selling New Jersey, or the 12 million-selling Keep the Faith. Believe it or not, it was Lost Highway, the Nashville-infused album from 2007, which sold only 4 million copies. A total of five songs were played from that record.
Our seats were not great by any stretch. For this tour, the group has opted to not only sell tickets to the seats in front of the stage, but also all the seats behind the stage. This concept is fine when played in the round, but there were moments in the show where production was obstructing site lines for our section of the MTS Centre. I believe had we sat in a more conventional spot, the sound would have been a bit better.
The production itself was high quality. They used an interesting pillar-style back drop that would come and go with occasional images projected onto it. There was very much a less-is-more approach. The band let the music do most of the work, an easy feat with a catalogue this legendary.
Jon was very enthusiastic in his performance, and his professionalism really stood out. You can tell he runs the ship like a business, and business is good. He doesn't hit the high notes like he used to, so some of the more classic tracks are played in a slightly different key. In the spots where a really high note would be around the corner, Jon would let the audience take over.
As I mentioned before, something was missing. There has been a bit of media buzz over the sudden absence of guitarist Richie Sambora. Phil X did a fine job filling in on the chunkier riffing songs, but he lacked the bluesy tone that Sambora used to separate himself from all the others of his era. The biggest hole he left, though was the harmonies that Jon and Richie share. Phil and the rest of the band are fine back-up singers, but Sambora is a good lead vocalist in his own right.
As I said before, this is a professional group. They put on a professional show. They know their audience and do everything they can to give an honest performance. If you get a chance to see Bon Jovi, even if you've already seen them on a previous tour, I would still recommend checking out the "Because We Can" tour.