I went to Louisville last night to see one of my favorite bands live for the first time. After standing in a long line to get into the KFC Yum Center and an equally long one for a souvenir T-shirt, my dad and I settled into our seats in the upper deck. Kentucky is not known for its love of '80s arena rock, so I expected only about half the seats in the arena would be full. I seriously underestimated the lure of Bon Jovi; the place was nearly sold out. Every age bracket was represented, from elementary school kids with their parents to the elderly.
The show ended up starting at 8:00 PM instead of 7:30 as printed on the tickets. Not sure why as neither Jon nor anyone else from the band explained the delay. There was no opening act, so Bon Jovi came right out and opened the show with their perennial favorite "You Give Love a Bad Name." A spectacular light display accompanied them, swirling their trademark heart-and-dagger logo into the crowd.
They played a few tracks from their new album What About Now: "Because We Can," "That's What the Water Made Me," and "What About Now." They also played some songs from what was, in my opinion, an ill-advised foray into expanding their sound to country. But mostly they stuck to their hits. In fact, their setlist included every song I posted this week with the exception of "Let It Rock". There were little surprises, like when they paused "Bad Medicine" to sing the entirety of "Old Time Rock and Roll" (weird since it's not even their song) and jumped back into the end of "Bad Medicine." The concert lasted about 3 hours and there were a total of 7 (!!!) encores.
I've been to my share of classic rock concerts in my life: Elton John, Billy Joel, Cheap Trick, Def Leppard, and Poison. Bon Jovi absolutely blew me away. Jon Bon Jovi is far and away the most energetic, upbeat performer I've ever seen. He barely stopped moving the entire show. Even when he was standing at the microphone, he was tapping his heels, clapping, or doing jazz hands. Jon's enthusiasm is contagious. The majority of the audience remained standing through the concert, dancing and shouting out the lyrics. More than once, Jon either stopped singing entirely to conduct the audience or yelled, "Help me out now!" so we would sing louder.
On a side note, few men Jon's age could (or should) attempt to wear black leather pants, but he manages to pull off the look. Women in the audience (myself included) went wild every time he started shaking his leather-clad behind.
Jon has quite the sense of humor and played around with the crowd. The band appeared on last night's American Idol, which Jon referenced by saying, "The real me is right here in Louisville. Stunt Me is in Los Angeles with all the crazy people." When Jon started to play the opening chords of "Wanted Dead Or Alive," the audience went wild, their hit having been given a new life thanks to the movie Rock of Ages. He grinned roguishly and asked, "You guys know this one, right?"
One of the reasons I've always been such a big Bon Jovi fan is because a lot of their songs have deep meanings. This becomes even more clear once you see them performed live. Jon sings every note from the heart, which caused me to tear up during "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night" and "Blood On Blood." He also makes the upbeat songs even more fun than they already are.
I left the arena with ringing ears, a sore throat, and a huge smile on my face. Bon Jovi is definitely giving their audience their money's worth. If there is any way it is humanly possible for you to catch this tour, I highly recommend you do it. You won't regret it.