Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bon Jovi The Circle Tour - Live In Sydney 19 December 2010

Who: Bon Jovi
What: The Circle Tour
When: 19 December 2010, Sunday
Where: Sydney Football Stadium

I've waited so long to watch Bon Jovi in concert, kicking myself for missing their These Days Tour in Singapore on 8 May 1995, the last time they visited our shores. Back then, I was just getting into English music and the Cross Road album was one of the first CDs I ever owned.

And so it happened that Bon Jovi were going on a massive tour in Australia last December. And since I was there for U2 already, it presented the perfect opportunity to catch them in concert too. Sydney was to be their last stop in Australia, and also for the year, having been on the road since 11 February last year, where they kicked off their tour in Honolulu. They were also to play three nights in Sydney, to 100,000 fans in all.

It was a wet evening, pouring heavily as we made our way to the Sydney Football Stadium. After alighting the bus, we followed the throng of people towards Gate K, huddled together under our umbrellas. We stopped by the merchandise booth, and saw that they were making big bucks out of selling disposable ponchos, which were going for A$5 I think.

We entered the stadium and were glad to find that our seats were sheltered from the rain. We were rather far from the stage, but we didn't expect much as we had only bought the cheapest seats (having already splurged quite a bit on the U2 ticket). After taking a few obligatory snapshots, I went to get some food and merchandise.

At 7:45pm , I was about to munch on my fries when the screen behind the stage started showing some images and the sound came on. I thought it was the opening act coming on, but after about one minute later, it revealed the silhouette of four guys, like The Circle album cover, and we realised it was Bon Jovi themselves! Didn't expect them to come on so early!

They kicked off the concert with Raise Your Hands, from their 1986 Slippery When Wet album. I wasn't familiar with the song, and it didn't matter. We got on our feet, and stayed there pretty much for the entire concert. Then it was time for one of their classic tunes, You Give Love A Bad Name. I remember my BMT sergeant loved this song, and while we were marching along, he would suddenly shout out "Shot through the heart and you're to blame", and we would have to reply in unison "You give love a bad name". Anyway, I digress...

It was super cool to sing along with 34,000 other people, together with the strains of Richie Sambora's signature guitar sounds and solos. Unlike the U2 concert, the sound system was superb and we could hear the band and Jon Bon Jovi's vocals clearly. It was like a dream come true, to finally witness Bon Jovi live.

They played songs from their extensive catalogue, ranging from their some of the earliest hits to their newest ones from the just-released Greatest Hits album - No Apologies and What Do You Got? As always, it was the classics that received the most rapturous response. The crowd went wild Richie played the opening notes of Blaze Of Glory, and Bad Medicine was pretty wild too. Their more recent hit It's My Life also got one of the best reactions and fists were seen pumping the air during the chorus.

One of the most poignant moments came when Jon appeared solo in the middle of the catwalk and sang a passionate version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, accompanied by keyboardist David Bryan and later by the rest of the band. Jon stood there alone in the rain, with a solo spotlight shining on him as he poured his heart out. That was one of my favourite moments from the concert.

The band later joined him on the catwalk and in the rain for an acoustic segment, before returning to the stage for the final songs of the evening. After a blistering version of Keep The Faith, the band retreated backstage for a short toilet break, as the rest if us chanted for more. They returned for the encore, performing Dry County, Wanted Dead Or Alive and Livin' On A Prayer, the song everyone wanted to hear. Once again, it was surreal listening to Livin' On A Prayer live, with Richie on the talk box. It was their signature anthem, and no doubt one of their best songs ever.

As they prepared to end the gig, the audience clamoured for more once again. And they relented, but Jon said that they had only seven more minutes before they really had to end the gig because of noise regulations, and they launched into These Days. Even though I love that song, it was a little of a letdown because it wasn't their biggest hit, and not everyone in the audience was familiar with it.

And I was really upset that they didn't play four of my favourite tunes - Always, In These Arms, Bed Of Roses and I'll Be There For You. Any one of these songs for encore would have been bliss for me. In the end, it wasn't to be. But I left the concert feeling very happy and fulfilled. It also gives me a reason to catch them another time, with the hope that they will perform those songs. They owe me!

They left the stage for good at 10:20pm, so it was a 2.5 hour concert. They gave their all that night, and I believe every night. And that's the reason why they're still at the top of their game after 27 years. Respect.

It was one of my best concerts ever, and I would really encourage everyone to go watch them if there's the chance. Rumour has it that they will be staging a concert in Singapore this year very soon. I know I'll be there again, this time in the Standing section! In the meantime, here are my pictures from the Sydney concert, enjoy...

A rainbow arches across the sky

The band come on at 7:45pm sharp

Raise your hands!

The moon appears briefly during a respite from the rain

Shelters had to be erected to shield the band from the rain

Hail Richie!

The jukebox segment

Jon gets all emotional during Hallelujah

Jon soaks up the atmosphere

Attempting to capture how heavy the rain was falling

Acoustic segment

It's Jon's signature pose!

34,000 fans can't be wrong

Wanted Dead Or Alive

Farewell Sydney!

These Days

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