I am beginning a tradition of going to see a concert at the end of each year, and I think I can claim “tradition” now that I have attended my third.
Bon Jovi came to Wellington after heading down to Christchurch a few years ago, and they could not have chosen a better day to come and experience the glories of Wellington on a good day. Even Mr Bon Jovi himself remarked that the weather had surprised him – in a good way.
With an army of loud, screaming women dedicating themselves to worshiping the hands (and other assorted body parts) of the lead singer behind me, and one of those unbelievably entertaining guys who lose themselves totally to the music and dance and sing as if no one is watching, and of course my own companions, the crowd at the event was amazing. Even one strange guy who broke on to the field and did a bit of break dancing didn’t really dampen anyone’s enthusiasm. The warm up act… warmed up. And then the main act came out.
Bon Jovi are rock legends, but I have to admit that I was never the biggest fan beyond their bigger hits. I therefore felt a bit lost when the whole crowd went wild as the band played some of their more obscure (to me anyway) hits, but I knew a fair few and it has to be said that there is nothing quite like standing in a crowded stadium screaming out for people to lay their hands on them. Some people, particularly in my row, seemed to be unable to fully appreciate the music without a constant supply of food and alcohol and the resulting trips to the bathroom, one woman holding the record for asking us to move about 16 times, closely followed by a man sitting next to me with about 10 different asking occasions. None of which really detracted from the music.
I was a bit far away from the stage to notice any Fergie-like wardrobe malfunctions or follow the band members without the aid of the giant screenshow, but the music permeated every pore. Quick side steps into Roy Orbison territory and a Richie Sambora-sung number mixed things up from a straight “Bon Jovi Greatest Hits” collection. I think I may be going slightly deaf though, as whenever Jon Bon Jovi addressed the crowd to introduce the members of the band or pay tribute to the Pike River Miners, I could barely make out a word he said. I wanted to blame the sound system for distorting everything somewhat, but no one else seemed so afflicted. Luckily for me, none of the group’s hits are sung at low volume, so there was no trouble when it came to understanding what was going on in You Give Love a Bad Name.
It was a bit of a let down to almost be forced into an obligatory “encore” where you knew exactly what they were going to play as two of their biggest hits had been noticeably absent from their play list. I would like to say I would be interested to be at one concert where the band wanted to be called back to perform again but the crowd was happy to let them go, but I won’t say that as it might actually come true. At any rate, the disappointment I felt at the blatant manipulation couldn’t diminish the impact and enjoyment of the final two songs. And then they were gone.
There were no attempts by members of the crowd to attempt songs we had just heard as we all filed out of the stadium (unlike at the Police concert, where it became obvious most people didn’t really know a lot of the words), but there was definitely a sense of seeing a great concert – and that summer was actually here.
Verdict: I really enjoyed Bon Jovi, but I have to say it comes a way down my list, below the Police concert of a few years ago. The concert was full of great songs, great people, great performers and a great night, but it was missing a certain magic that truly made it memorable. 3.5 Blazes of Glory out of 5.