Review by Vanessa Monaghan
Photos: Aidan McCarthy
Another rainy night in Dublin in June must mean it’s time for an outdoor gig. This time, it’s the turn of New Jersey stalwarts Bon Jovi, for the first of a two night stand.
The Riptide Movement and Vintage Trouble had the honour of opening for the Jovi. I hadn’t heard of Vintage Trouble before. They are a Los Angeles band with a sound reminiscent of rock from the 1950′s, pure old school rock with a dash of soul.
From where myself and my companion for the evening were sitting, on the right quite close to the stage, their sound didn’t seem quite right. The snare drum echoed and it just wasn’t loud enough. That can be the case sometimes for opening acts but then the sound would be adjusted for the headline act.
The venue quickly fills up but weirdly there seems to be a huge empty space to the right of the stage. Perhaps this was for Golden Circle ticket holders but there was enough room for perhaps an extra 1000 people. While other parts of the pitch area were jammers, this empty area left a gap in the atmosphere on our side of the venue.
A light mist falls over the RDS as Bon Jovi come to the stage. Drummer Tico Torres is joined by David Bryan on keyboards. Hugh McDonald arrives on bass and Richie Sambora gets a cheer as he returns to the fold following his rehab stint. Hold on though, there’s an extra guitarist?
The biggest cheer though is for Jon Bongiovi as he comes to the stage wearing a red old guard’s jacket, which makes him stand out from the rest of the band. As the band start ‘Raise Your Hands’, Jon hops on one leg, which points to a leg brace on the other, following a fall last week.
That doesn’t stop him though as he encourages the audience to obey the song’s title. He puts on his shades as he’s facing the evening sun and goes straight into ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’, telling everyone to get out of their seats, ‘This is Dublin’. The crowd respond by singing every note.
There unfortunately seemed to be a dip in the show. ‘Born To Be My Baby’,'We Weren’t Born To Follow’ and ‘Just Older’ just didn’t have the impact to keep up with the previous atmosphere, which was disappointing. I’m not sure if it was the wind, the time of the evening, the sound just wasn’t good or loud enough.
Before ‘It’s My Life’, Jon addresses the crowd saying how he wasn’t going to speak much, ‘We’ve got two nights and 2000 songs to play’. This gets crowd into it again, proving that they were here for the hits. Sound issues were apparent though as the audience singing was louder than the full rock band. ‘Blaze of Glory’ which should be one of the big ‘guns’ (like the pun?) also fell flat with a lack of atmosphere and what seemed to be a problem with Jon’s vocals. He just couldn’t get the high notes. With three guitars playing on this the sound should have been huge but it wasn’t.
Yes, the band’s name is Bon Jovi and his name is Jon Bongiovi but there are times here when one wonders why he’s not just solo and playing with session musicians instead of the Bon Jovi band.
It takes ‘Bad Medicine’ to drag the audience back to the band. Anyone who has seen the band before will know that they always mix it up a bit, here they add ‘Gloria’, ‘I’ll Fade Away’ and ‘Pretty Woman’. This gets a bigger reaction than any of their own material so far.
During ‘Love is The Only Rule’ Jon walks on a circular ramp to the middle of the crowd and sings ‘When We Were Beautiful’ from there. The sound level seems to go up a little but this isn’t enough. The crowd are again louder than the band during ‘I’ll Be There For You’.
Somewhere along the way JBJ decides to be honest and say that he’s got a runny nose and his hands are frozen. Welcome to summer in Ireland, sir! This though, seems to be a turning point for the band. ‘Someday I’ll be Saturday Night’, has the best sound, overall musicianship and reaction of the night. The interaction has given the crowd an added edge and now knowing their beloved is sick, egg him on during ‘Have a Nice Day’ and ‘Keep The Faith’. A close up of our hero on the big screen shows him with sunken eyes and a nice red nose. Just when the band have the audience built up to a frenzy they leave the stage.
A couple of cold remedies later (allegedly) Bon Jovi return to the stage. They should have finished their main set earlier and then come back out. Whatever Jon took for his cold has some sort of miracle cure. This wasn’t the Bon Jovi we had seen earlier in the night. This was the kick ass Bon Jovi from the ‘These Days’ tour in 1996.
An immense version of ‘Dry County’ brought out the best in the band, great lyrics, great musicianship, great guitars from Richie and great delivery from JBJ. They are shown well deserved appreciation by the crowd. There are a few songs Bon Jovi will always have to play. ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ is one and continues where ‘Dry County’ left off. The change in the band is astonishing and they are at this point on fire. ‘These Days’ finishes off before the band take a bow at the front of the stage.
No, they can’t go anywhere before playing another couple. ‘Always’ comes first and has every single person in the RDS singing along at the top of their voices. That means there’s only one to finish; ‘Living On A Prayer’.
A little bit of feedback at the start doesn’t stop the band, who are now on a complete roll. Luckily there’s not a roof on the RDS, it would surely have been blown off. Classic Bon Jovi. As the band take their traditional bows, it’s weird to see six musicians in the lineup. Jon stays behind to take it in for just a few seconds more before signalling to his heart.
This is the Bon Jovi I wanted to see all night, grant it, it will be the Bon Jovi most people will remember about tonight. They left on a high with people smiling. What more could you want?