Several of us ganged up on Bon Jovi Tuesday night.
This show seemed like a good chance for a heavy custard guy like myself to cut my teeth on some heavy metal. But I needed help. I recruited my brother Dave (who knows all about rock) and my nephew Jody (who knows all about Bon Jovi) to help out.To begin with, Jon Bon Jovi has a lot in common with Goldilocks. Hard-core headbangers find his music "too soft," easy listeners find it "too hard"; but the overflow crowd at the Salt Palace seemed to find it just right. And two out of three members of that crowd were girls between the ages of 12 and 15. David Cassidy courted them in the '60s. Journey took over in the '70s. Now the '80s belong to Bon Jovi.
The rap against most hard rock shows is they tend to be loud. This one was. Even the singer remarked at one point "Is this loud, or what?" Rock concerts also tend to be manic and draw out strong passions. This one did all that.
The fact a video was being filmed by MTV just added to pressure cooker atmosphere. And from the opening chords, it was circus time.
Jon Bon Jovi came up through the floor in his Superman shirt and literally hit the ground running. And from the first note to the last he showed more energy than any gymnast. (He even did some Sugar Ray Leonard shadow-boxing at one point.)
My brother Dave remembered the '60s. The antics and outfits hadn't changed, he pointed out, but the technology was now mind boggling. It's all FM mikes and guitars. No speakers, no wires, no bad lighting. Thanks to a long runway the singer was able to use the whole arena as his stage. The video cameras and fans jumping on stage to sing added to the carnival.
Bon Jovi did his hits, of course. He opened with "Lay Your Hands on Me" (and repeated later for the MTV crew). Then finished up with a single that just went to No. 1, "I'll Be There for You."
Yes, and he sang "Bad Medicine."
Touching moment of the night came in a Jon Bon Jovi heart-to-heart with the crowd.
"It's hard when other people are making a million bucks and you're still playing in your garage," he told the audience. "But now every day's like Christmas. Hang on to your dreams."
There were a couple of costume changes during the night - much of it for the benefit of the MTV cameras. To bring things home, in fact, the group changed back to outfits worn earlier to do a reprise of a number.
Skid Row, an earthy group, opened the show with straight gritty rock and roll. The band's job was to pump up the crowd for the main act.
They did their job.