Jon Dunham reviews Bon Jovi at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry
"It’s Sunday evening, you’re at a Bon Jovi concert, get up out of your seats."
And from that moment onwards, very few of the 37,000 capacity crowd at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena would have got back into them.
For those were the opening words of their leader Jon Bon Jovi as the New Jersey rock god and his colleagues embarked on a two-hour-plus set, which covered their near four decades of global success.
Despite plenty of change in recent years following the much-publicised departure of guitarist and Bon Jovi’s right-hand man Richie Sambora in 2013, the band’s return to these shores for a full tour after six years certainly seemed to go down a storm.
Their appearance in Coventry - the third time they have visited the venue - came just 48 hours removed from a sell-out show at Wembley Stadium and less than a week after the first of their three-date UK leg at Anfield in Liverpool.
But there were no signs of fatigue from the frontman as he bounced onto the stage and immediately got the party started with You Give Love A Bad Name.
Whether you were a hardened fan - and Bon Jovi have plenty of them - or watching them for the first time, such an opening set the stage for what was to come as a pleasant mix of all-out classics and songs from their most recent studio album This House Is Not For Sale followed.
The big crowd had been suitably warmed up by Welsh legends the Manic Street Preachers, who were terrific for their near-hour-long support set, and with Bon Jovi’s energy evident from the get-go, there was pretty much no let up until the lights came back on.
This band now find themselves as a seven-piece with Bon Jovi ably backed up by original members David Bryan on the keyboard and Tico Torres on the drums along with long-time bassist Hugh McDonald.
The newer members on the block are percussionist Everett Bradley, guitarist John Shanks and, most predominantly, guitarist Phil X.
Described as ‘the superhero’ when being introduced by Bon Jovi after he stepped in at short notice to cover Sambora’s absence six years ago, the Canadian is now firmly settled into his role.
The familiar solos on the likes of Slippery When Wet tracks Raise Your Hands and, in particular, Wanted Dead Or Alive were polished while he was given the licence to throw his own spin on other songs as well.
And when Phil X, Shanks, Bryan and Torres were given there few minutes to show their instrumental strength at the end of Keep The Faith the crowd couldn’t have been warmer in their appreciation.
But, as you’d expect, it was Bon Jovi himself who stole the show.
The voice might not be what it once was - that’s what 30-plus year of touring will do - but there was more than enough in the tank as he stretched things for the New Jersey ballad I’ll Be There For You while his adoring public backed him up.
Bon Jovi are every inch a stadium band. And even after all this time, their presence is still enough to put the bums in the seats and then get them out of them when it’s showtime.
And just to hammer home the point of longevity, the two-song encore took us back to 1983 and "where it all began" in the words of the frontman with a rousing rendition of their breakthrough track Runaway before the inevitable climax of Livin’ On A Prayer.
With the crowd screaming along, it left them thirsty for more. And you can bet there will be more, but it might just be another two or three years down the line.
If anything has been proven it is that Old Father Time doesn’t stop, and neither do Bon Jovi.
Bon Jovi played:
You Give Love A Bad Name
Raise Your Hands
Born To Be My Baby
This House Is Not For Sale
We Weren’t Born To Follow
We Got It Goin’ On
Have A Nice Day
Keep The Faith
I’ll Be There For You
It’s My Life
God Bless This Mess
Wanted Dead Or Alive
Lay Your Hands On Me
Captain Crash & The Beauty Queen From Mars
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
Livin’ On A Prayer
* Bon Jovi played the Ricoh Arena on Sunday June 34. Visit www.bonjovi.com/tour for future tour dates.