Talk about making a memory.
Bon Jovi triumphantly kicked off a three-night-stand at the Air Canada Centre last night that continues tomorrow night before wrapping up with a record-setting fifth
night at the hockey hangar on Thursday, as the veteran New Jersey rockers played two earlier shows from their so-called Lost Highway tour at the ACC in early December.
And apparently they want to make that fifth and final night special, randomly giving away prizes to concertgoers ranging from a trip for two to see the band in London,
England to a jersey signed by all of the members.
Just to keep things interesting, Bon Jovi -- who are actually breaking their own earlier four-night record at the ACC that tied with U2, the Spice Girls and The Police
-- returned to Canada with a new multi-million-dollar stage that featured four state-of-the-art flat screen video screens that dropped down from above and later fanned out like venetian
blinds during Captain Crash and the Beauty Queen From Mars.
The group opened with the rollicking title track from their latest, country-tinged album Lost Highway, fleshed out by the presence of a female fiddler, before delving
into the first '80s-era crowdpleaser of the night, You Give Love a Bad Name, that spawned an audience singalong.
"I've decided I'm just going to make this Canada week in Toronto," said lead singer Jon Bon Jovi to huge cheers while strumming an acoustic guitar before launching into
I Get a Crush.
As has been their way for the last 25 years, much of Bon Jovi's appeal in a live setting comes from the interplay between the charismatic lead singer and his songwriting
partner and guitarist Richie Sambora.
Last night, the two didn't disappoint, sometimes sharing a microphone (even on a small stage on the floor for the ballad I'll Be There For You), and often smiling at one
another, with Sambora eventually going it alone to sing lead on These Days.
And a special mention should be made, too, of drummer Tico Torres, reportedly in severe pain, wearing a back brace and on medication, but refusing to cancel last night's
"God bless Tico," said Jon, who explained his condition as the two-hour-and-30-minute show came to a close.
Some genuine song surprises included an abbreviated cover of Bob Dylan's Knockin' On Heaven's Door, which led into one of the set's highlights, Blaze Of Glory, with
opening act Chris Daughtry trading verses with Jon, and Sambora delivering a standout solo after he traded in a sharp looking purple coat for a black hat.
Jon also paid tribute to Leonard Cohen, who he called "Canada's greatest songwriter," and commemorated his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last night in
New York City with a cover of Hallelujah during the encore. Toronto also got a major shoutout in the final song of the night, I Love This Town, with a video montage of the city's sights and
sports teams, including the Maple Leafs.
"Your friendship and support doesn't go unnoticed," said the singer, recalling the first time the band played to about 50 people at the El Mocambo.
Of the new material, We Got It Going On, a collaboration with the band's "country cousins, Big & Rich," and the slower ballads (You Want to) Make a Memory and 'Till
We Ain't Strangers Anymore, the latter two featuring Jon alone on that small stage on the floor, fit in the best alongside such classic arena rock anthems as It's My Life, Bad Medicine (with
a snippet of Shout), Keep the Faith, Livin' On a Prayer, and Wanted Dead Or Alive.
Air Canada Centre