For several decades, as concert venues grew larger and performers adapted to connect with listeners sometimes seemingly miles away, Jon Bon Jovi was an unrivaled master of the stage. With a smile as bright as his teeth, the blond frontman worked the crowd with a twinkle in his eye and a rock-and-roll energy that still drives fans to fill arenas with a pulsing sound.
After a lengthy hiatus, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted band reunited last fall with their 15th album, 2020. The tour to support that release is now underway, and a stop at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center was the first of eight shows.
As the band rolled through their jukebox of hits, it was clear that the crowd loved every note. The opening song, a stomping version of ‘Always’, was a great indicator of the response. The screams were deafening.
Throughout the set, the audience sang along to songs like ‘Bad Medicine’ and ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’. The band plowed through the hits, often with gang vocals, and while some of them may have lost their relevance in recent years, they remain solid hooks that are easy to sing-along with.
One of the big draws for this tour is the fact that Jon Bon Jovi’s voice still sounds strong and energetic. The band members – drummer Tico Torres, bassist Hugh McDonald and guitarist Phil X – play well together and have a good dynamic on stage. During the show, Bon Jovi showcased their versatility by covering both their classic anthems and newer material.
The show included a nice balance of songs from the band’s most recent album, ‘Beautiful Drug’ and some oldies but ones that still resonated like ‘Bed of Roses’ and ‘Army of One’. The symphonic ballad ‘Limitless’ also proved effective in showing the band’s ability to shift gears between high-energy anthems and slower, emotional ballads.
With the absence of pyrotechnics and other stage enhancements that are so typical of modern pop and rock concerts, the night felt very much like a live performance. That’s a testament to the quality of the music and the enduring appeal of the band’s brand of rock and roll.