Bon Jovi ‘bounces’ First Union Center

By Ryan Mulloy and Leanne Pantone
March 20, 2003

Damon Winter/Dallas Morning News/KRT

With a single glance at the crowd in the First Union Center on Friday, March 7, the success of Bon Jovi’s career was hardly just “livin’ on a prayer.” The crowd was filled with fans from the early days of 1983’s “Bon Jovi,” the bands first release. But through the years, the band has picked up another following of younger fans listening to the same rock sound that has evolved over the last 20 years.

The stage was set with three satellite dishes in the background, the theme of the cover of last year’s “Bounce.” The satellites, facing stage left, turned to face the crowd to reveal a big screen showing of movies and clips of the band as they performed. At one point, during one of the band’s encore songs, “Bad Medicine,” the screens spun around to the sounds of Richie Sambora wailing at the guitar.

The show opened with “Bounce,” the title track of the CD and just one of the seven new songs the band played in concert. Like any classic opener, the song was merely just meant to get the crowd started for a long night with the band and it was quite successful. The song was joined through the show by “Everyday,” “Undivided,” “Misunderstood,” “Right Side of Wrong,” “Hook Me Up” and “The Distance,” all songs from the new effort.

At one point, the band dedicated “The Distance” to the soldiers dedicating their lives to the safety of the United States and serving in Iraq. During “Right Side of Wrong,” a video screen acting out the lyrics of the song played, with Jon Bon Jovi watching during a solo and acting shocked at the events of the video.

Twenty years after its release, the band visited an old classic when they relied on keyboardist David Bryan for their very first single, “Runaway.” The song, which had been slowed down during the 2000 tour, was played in its original bliss. Also surprising the crowd was an album track from “These Days” called “Diamond Ring.” The song, much like its accompanying CD, is very mellow and laid back with Bon Jovi and Sambora both playing guitar.

At 41, age may actually be catching up with Bon Jovi. During one of the bands signature songs, “Bed of Roses,” Bon Jovi forgot the lyrics to the last verse and returned to his mic stand laughing. Finding it embarrassing, Bon Jovi was quick to remark how at least he sings his own songs and later that “Justin Timberlake has nothing on me.” Making up for his forgetfulness, Bon Jovi added several verses to “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night.”

While the band came back for an encore, it was rather short, only including two hits, “Keep the Faith” and “Bad Medicine.” As the concert came to a close, it was odd the band didn’t come out for their standard second encore. Certain hits were left off of the playlist, including “Blaze of Glory” and “Lay Your Hands on Me.” Perhaps this is because Bon Jovi has always said that they do not intend to be a greatest hits band.

The shows also tend to close with covers of songs like “Shout,” “Twist and Shout,” “Tequilla” or “Rockin’ in the Free World,” but these were also overlooked. While these songs have appeared on previous shows on the tour, Bon Jovi is also noted for changing his set lists at the last minute.

The show, which went over two hours, was just another example of the dedication the band has to their music and the impact the enthusiasm of the crowd has on the band. Maybe a lack of hits is to hold of for their July 24 show at Veterans’ Stadium. Tickets have yet to go on sale, but you can bet the two of us will be the firsts in line.

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Ryan Mulloy and Leanne Pantone

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