When you think music and New Jersey, one name comes quickly to mind: Bruce Springsteen.
Yet few people inside or outside New Jersey are making better music or rocking out more these days than local boys Bon Jovi. The only 80s hair band to not only survive but thrive in the new millennium, Bon Jovi showed a continuing maturity and veteran stage presence as they brought their “Bounce” tour to Continental Airlines Arena on Monday.
The show, the second stop on the tour, opened with three huge satellite dishes rotating onstage as the band – lead singer Jon Bon Jovi, guitarist Richie Sambora, keyboardist David Bryan, drummer Tico Torres and bassist Hugh McDonald, rose from beneath the floor on a hydraulic platform, bathed in flashing blue, red and purple lights. The spotlight then grabbed Sambora, clad in a floor-length red Sgt. Pepper jacket as he ripped into the opening chords of “Bounce,” with 18,000 fans roaring in response.
Jon Bon Jovi, clad in tight-fitting black leather pants and shirt, did his own one-legged bounce during the shout-it-out chorus, his famous mop of hair flopping up and down to the beat. The satellite dishes rotated downward and became three circular video screens where huge images of the band were shown.
Then it was on to “You Give Love A Bad Name,” with Jon and Richie stalking the front of the stage during the famous guitar riff just like they did in the memorable 1986 video. Jon slapped hands, high-fived fans and got generally pawed by adoring females on the side of the stage during “Livin’ On A Prayer.”
“Undivided,” the ode to 9/11 and the best track on “Bounce,” began mournfully with Bryan playing a funereal dirge on the synthesizer before the band tore into the aggressive, defiant tribute to America coming together after the terrorist attacks. Jon Bon Jovi lives in Middletown, N.J., which lost 37 residents in the World Trade Center attack. He flashed visible anger as he snarled out the lyrics, “That was our mothers, those were our children, that was our fathers, that was each of us.”
Later, he assumed his familiar role as romantic crooner on “My Funny Valentine,” eyes shut tight, cooing in his lowest register as the girls shrieked like they used to for Sinatra in a different era.
The band was tight and energetic throughout the 24-song show, which lasted more than 2 1/2 hours, and was anchored by Torres’ no-frills drumming and McDonald’s booming bass lines. Sambora took over lead vocals from Jon on “I’ll Be There For You,” and Bryan ably filled in on the high harmonies, breathing new life into an old chestnut from the 1989 “New Jersey” tour.