We live in hard times. And there’s no light in sight at the end of the proverbial tunnel, so to speak.
However, for the most part of last Saturday night, the evergreen Bon Jovi provided a much-needed shot in the arm for those who embrace the promise of living on a prayer. The boys from New Jersey, who last played in Malaysia 20 years ago, finally returned to our shores as part of their Asia tour.
The band regaled the 15,000-strong crowd with songs which not only embodied the band’s heartfelt, often tongue-in-cheek and always optimistic worldview, but also rocked with the usual energy and exuberance of their live performances.
Formed more than three decades ago, Jon Bon Jovi’s band is currently made up of the talented David Bryan on pianos and keyboards and the effervescent Tico Torres on drums. It was ably supported by six-stringers Phil X and Matt O’Ree and bassist Hugh McDonald. No Richie Sambora? No problem.
With an expansive 19-song setlist, the concert presented the tight-knit group the opportunity to rock and roll out its vast catalogue of gems such as Raise Your Hands, You Give Love A Bad Name, It’s My Life and Bad Medicine at the iconic Stadium Merdeka.
Right at a quarter to nine, the strains of Grammy-winning Who Says You Can’t Go Home kicked off the show on the clear, haze-free night.
The lean-looking Jon oozed oodles of charm as the crowd lapped up his enthusiastic gestures. His outstanding showmanship stood out the most during Raise Your Hands, a rebel-rousing, feel-good number that seemed to loosen up the crowd, who gyrated and sang along with … arms in the air.
Sure, he struggled a little with the higher notes, but the enthusiastic and supportive crowd couldn’t care less.
There was hardly any pause for breath after that, as the audience was then thrown into the fist-pumping, foundation-shaking It’s My Life.
The final moments of the show saw the band unleash its heavy-duty catalogue of classic hits, one after another, starting with the distinctive chimes of Wanted Dead Or Alive, which brought some sections of the audience to its feet.
Here, Jon’s captivating vocals was fortified as he strummed along with his trusty acoustic guitar.
Keep The Faith, the hit number from the titular album showcased good, old fashioned rock and roll, and a little rumba on the side as well. The six-string serve-and-volley of chugging and shredding, Torres’ catchy pounding, Bryan’s cool as you like tinkling on the ivories, and the front man’s maracas grooving … this number further lifted the crowd’s spirits to the stratosphere.
Then, before order could be restored, Bad Medicine roared in. Powered on by the pumped-up crowd, the massive singalong made Jon’s singing almost irrelevant, in a very good way.
No Livin’ On A Prayer? A Bon Jovi concert without this song would not even have made it halfway there, and the crowd had been baying out for Tommy and Gina’s anthemic tale of hope and staying strong in the face of adversity. And boy, did the boys from Jersey deliver.
Catchy and upbeat, at the same time providing a dose of comfort in the face of increasing uncertainties, this parting number caressed and cajoled the audience’s heartstrings, bringing a nostalgia-drenched night to an unforgettable end.