Punk rock kids, full-time students, middle-aged men, slightly underdressed and over-developed women and a few celebrities came out to the St. Pete Times Forum on Saturday to see Bon Jovi.
The group displayed its staying power in the rock scene, proving that two decades of touring have made them excellent entertainers.
After the Goo Goo Dolls warmed up the crowd, Bon Jovi played a two-and-a-half-hour set featuring hit songs from the past, such as 1983’s “Runaway” and tracks off the recently released album Bounce.
Jovi opened the show with the record’s title track , thus beginning a 41-year old display of bouncing, punching and hip wiggling. The crowd’s attention started to peak as the band went through “Livin’ on a Prayer.”
Following that hit song, off what is arguably the band’s greatest album, Slippery When Wet, the quartet went back to its newest album with the Sept. 11-influenced songs “Everyday” and “Undivided.” The latter was sung in front of large screens displaying images of Americana.
During the show, images were displayed on the screens and laser lights shined throughout the arena. The band had practically every fan on his or her feet or swaying in their chairs through each ballad and rock song.
Along with infectious hits, the group has developed a strong stage presence, with Jon Bon Jovi constantly dancing back and forth across the stage thrilling the female fans with his tight jeans and movie-star good looks.
In order to stay atop the charts for such a long time a band needs more than just a star lead singer. The group from New Jersey also boasts guitar player Richie Sambora, a star in his own right (and not just because his wife is Heather Locklear). Sambora electrified the Forum with his solo riffs and had the lead vocal on “I’ll be there for You.”
The group ended the set with “Born to Be My Baby” off the album New Jersey, but was not finished just yet. To start the first encore, Bon Jovi gave most of the crowd what it wanted when the band strummed “Blaze of Glory.”
After “Blood on Blood,” Jon Bon Jovi told the crowd that he “hated to do it but the crowd needs a doctor,” and the front man and company gave one of their most exciting performances of the night with “Bad Medicine.”
Following the hit song and an exclamation by the lead singer that “I’m to old for this s—,” he gave the ladies something to shout about with hip gyrations and the appearance that he was singing until he dropped by singing “Shout.”
After the crowd was riled up, the band slowed it down and played the mellow ballad “Never Say Goodbye,” which capped off a raucous night of good time rock ‘n’ roll.
Contact Bryan Fazio at firstname.lastname@example.org