The Bon Jovi Tour Starts Friday at CHI Health Center Omaha

bon jovi tour

The promise of a Bon Jovi concert is loud guitars, leather jackets and songs you know by heart. And that was delivered to CHI Health Center Omaha on Friday as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band began its latest tour.

The show was a resounding success with many of their fans in attendance at the arena, and it was a joy to watch Jon Bon Jovi work the crowd with his twinkle in his eye. He and his mates, including bassist Hugh McDonald and drummer Tico Torres, were all in fine form, giving the concert a sense of youthful energy.

It’s the first time Bon Jovi has played a full set in the United States since 2019, and it’s a testament to their commitment to their loyal fan base. The group, which has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, has a reputation as one of the best arena performers in the world.

Their newest album, What About Now, combines their signature mix of anthemic choruses and heart-tugging lyrics with country-inflected patriotism and slick pop appeal, a blend that has kept them at the top of the charts for more than three decades. Their new material is a welcome addition to the band’s classic catalog, and it’s a good sign that the rest of the band feels a growing sense of freedom as a group.

As the band’s guitarist Richie Sambora recently told me, “It’s a new chapter for Bon Jovi.” He and the other members of the rock group are not necessarily following the worn-down path of rockers-turned-reality-show stars like Bret Michaels, Gene Simmons or Dee Snider, but they certainly have an audience that’s willing to pay the price to see them.

There was an excellent balance of recent and older material, from the rocking “Limitless” to the more soft-rocking “Beautiful Drug” to the country-influenced “What About Now,” which showcased Sambora’s ability to meld his guitar style with Bon Jovi’s. It’s the same band that played the CHI Health Center in 2011 and they looked ready to take on the road again.

But there’s a glaring problem with the band’s latest tour. Lead singer Jon Bon Jovi’s voice has taken a hit.

He hasn’t been able to belt out the vocals he used to, especially on the hits. The heft that made those anthems sing like hymns is gone, and it’s a shame because his voice is still capable of more than most rockers can muster.

That said, he was a bit more effective on the newer tunes, and he showed up at the front of the stage more often than he did back in 2011. He had a good time playing his accordion with his bandmates, and the harmonies were solid.

He also sounded a little tired at times, as he did during the acoustic break in the middle of the set. And while the other musicians did a great job, there was just something about his performance that didn’t feel entirely natural.