See, I'm a Bon Jovi fan. Have been ever since I was a kid -- "Runaway" was released in 1982, when I was 9, and I've been hooked on rock keyboard riffs ever since. When Slippery When Wet came out, I was one of the first in line at house of the "Tape Guy" down the block -- the guy who worked for the record company and had piles and piles of tapes and vinyl in his garage that he would sell to the neighborhood kids for a couple of bucks. That's also how I picked up 7800 Degrees Farenheit, but by the time New Jersey came out, I had a bit more cash and the Tape Guy had moved out ...
So when I heard Bon Jovi was coming to Chicago, and playing at Soldier Field, I wanted to be there. I have, burned in my brain, the image from the video for "Wanted Dead or Alive" that shows Bon Jovi on stage from behind, when the floodlights light up the crowd just as he says "I've seen a million faces/and I've rocked them all." I wanted to experience that moment for myself, 20 years later, since my parents wouldn't let me go to the Slippery concert at the Rosemont Horizon ...
Call me a sap, call me a dork, I don't care. It was an awesome concert. The band played non-stop for 2-1/2 hours, basically wearing down the crowd until they brought down the house after three encores with "Blood on Blood" and "Keep the Faith." Jon Bon Jovi is a consummate showman, still with a good voice, and even the Sun-Times says that we got our money's worth. Richie Sambora looked a bit scary (although it didn't seem to bother the screaming women just behind me, every time he came on the giant screen), David Bryan's hair has suffered for way too long, and Tico Torres was incredible. Most of all, Bon Jovi himself just looked to be having fun, literally as if the past 24 years just haven't happened.
Unfortunately, most of the crowd played along with the charade. Except that where Bon Jovi (who is now 44) hasn't seemed to age, and is in amazing shape, his fans have. And although they've gotten older, they haven't moved on. It was a big-hair, big-shoulders, mullet love fest, and at one point it occured to me (as they pumped AC/DC through the speakers to warm up the crowd): I listen to the same music they do. What does that say about me?
I guess maybe it's just a guilty pleasure for me. I'm a nostalgic at heart, and Bon Jovi's lyrics and themes are pure pop schmaltz. (As Kim pointed out, not once -- all night -- did we hear a swear word from the band. The most risque moment was during "Have a Nice Day" when bad-boy Sambora flipped off the crowd during every chorus.) I just hope that one day I don't wake up looking like Mrs. Doubtfire!
Strangest moment: During the super-sappy ballad "Always," a fight broke out on the level just above us. It was a surreal moment as beer and blood went flying and security all had to swarm. Of course, the woman coming back from the beer line had no idea as she tried to get to her seat ...
Goofiest outfit: In a cold-weather night of goofy, 80s-era clothing, one guy took the cake: mullet, goatee, wifebeater shirt, and cotton sweatshorts! It was like a really bad, bad gym class horror flick.
I'm your biggest fan: We had a heck of a time hearing the first few songs, as the two guys behind us kept shouting at Richie Sambora: "Homewrecker!" Then, any time he and Bon Jovi got near each other, "Quit being gay!" Eventually they settled down, and it occured to me: these guys knew EVERY WORD to EVERY SONG, and they shouted like little schoolgirls after each one! They were so into it, at one point one of them was hand-waving and simultaneously whacked Kim and I on the head!
Oh, and "Wanted?" They held off until the first encore, and started it with an audience sing-along. But it was cool. And the floodlights were in full effect.
ONLY 145 DAYS TO NATZ!!