Bon Jovi – concert review
Bon Jovi Live (not to be confused with The Circle Tour)
2011.06.17 Helsinki, Olympic Stadium
by Nando the Commando

Bon Jovi came into town the other day on Friday June 17th. Suddenly I was swept back into my past driving a 1977 Toyota Tercel that had a yellow body, brown vinyl roof and fuzzy fake sheepskin seats. The only thing I was missing was a girl and some fuzzy dice. I had purchased these wheels from my older brother for a mere $500 and it was my main means of transport during my sophomore year at the University of Florida in Gainesville. In my tapedeck was Bon Jovi’s 4th album, New Jersey, as I drove the dorm guys down to the all-you-can-eat buffet at Wendy’s on 13th Street North. New Jersey was also playing when I drove myself to a nearby theater that was playing The Last Temptation of Christ. In my opinion, New Jersey was a pretty decent stadium rock album with a combination of anthems and ballads. I was never a huge Bon Jovi fan but my other older brother saw them open up for The Scorpions years earlier in 1984 at St. Petersburg’s Bayfront Center and he gave a positive review. So I figured I should check their latest album out. They were heavy on the MTV rotation. It was the autumn of 1988. Flash forward to Helsinki 2011 and the Bon Jovi Live Tour.

Bon Jovi has been around since 1983 which is very rare in the music industry full of one hit wonders and bands that break up because of drama or drugs or booze or Yoko Ono. So it was quite refreshing to see the same guys play a great concert in Helsinki that one evening. Theirs is a story of friendship that has lasted and music that keeps getting cranked out. Songs with stories of the American dream, love, relationships, blue collar work ethic, the struggles of the common man, faith, positivity, and in general, upbeat tunes that still inspire new generations. Bon Jovi is known for being a straight on stadium rock and roll band full of talented musicians and a lead man, Jon, who can easily have a career on the silver screen if he so desired. Jon is two inches (5 cm) taller than Tom Cruise but even if my lady and I were at midfield trying to catch a glimpse of the tiny performers onstage beyond the monster-sized screens, Jon’s presence was felt.

They kicked off their concert with Raise Your Hands after which Jon told the predominantly Finnish crowd that “This ain’t no television show! Get up on your feet! I don’t want to see anyone sitting!” Jon has been here before and he certainly knows that Finns sometimes need to be told what to do. So in answer to his kind request, the entire crowd sitting in the stands got up as the intro to You Give Love a Bad Name was blasting on the giant speaker. The rest of us on the field just found our own personal spaces to dance, shake a leg, scream or sing along.

After six songs into the gig Jon confessed, “Well good evening, Helsinki (applause & screams). It’s always good to be back in another sold out Olympic Stadium in your beautiful city (applause & screams). I gotta tell ya, last night the sun was shining, I was out on the water, me and the guys was having dinner, we were sitting around sipping some wine and just shooting the shit
saying “What a great summer night!” (applause & laughter). Tonight! I’m taking a shower with 40,000 of my closest friends,” Jon declared. “I’m gonna get myself in trouble, it’s early, turn it up!” Then the intro to It’s My Life kicked off.

Bon Jovi’s sound was pretty tight. All of the guys, Richie Sambora (guitar), Tico Torres (percussion), David Bryan (the curly-haired-perm keyboardist guy) and Jon were at their best. There were only a few occasions where Jon seemed a bit out of breath. Later on in the show it was clear he wasn’t moving around as much on stage as earlier. He even mentioned that he’d try to keep up with Richie as the duo began the acoustic intro to Wild is the Wind. The next day, an article in Ilta Sanomat mentioned that Jon hurt his knee during the concert. This could explain why Bon Jovi performed only 24 songs compared to 26 two days earlier in Oslo and 27 with 2 encores in Munich that was broadcast on the Net.

The highlight of the show for me was the jukebox sequence during Bad Medicine when The Doors’ Roadhouse Blues was played chased soon after by the Isley Brothers’ Shout. They were both a pleasant surprise. I asked a friend of mine about the show a few days afterwards, mentioning that the rain didn’t put a damper on the festivities since things are better Slippery When Wet
(wink wink). She proclaimed that she’d see Jon again rain or shine, it doesn’t matter the weather, he’s that gooooood! Apparently, she and many other female fans lost their voices screaming during the concert. I, for one, had a great time. If it makes my special lady smile then I’m all for it. I went into the concert without any expectations and I was very pleasantly surprised. Not my cup of tea, but worth the time, the money and the brief showers in order to witness one of the most easy going arena rock bands still touring today. They’ve “seen a million faces and they’ve rocked them all!”

Set List:
Raise Your Hands
You Give Love a Bad Name
Born to Be My Baby
We Weren’t Born to Follow
In These Arms
Lost Highway
It’s My Life
Runaway
We Got It Goin’ On
Captain Crash & The Beauty Queen From Mars
Bad Medicine / Roadhouse Blues / Shout
Love’s the Only Rule
When We Were Beautiful
Bed of Roses
I’ll Be There For You
Who Says You Can’t Go Home
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
No Apologies
Have a Nice Day
Keep the Faith

Encore:
Thorn in My Side
Wanted Dead or Alive
Wild Is The Wind
Livin’ on a Prayer

Links:
BonJovi.com
Bon Jovi (AllMusic.com)
Bon Jovi (Wikipedia)