A juggernaut of pop-rock, Bon Jovi’s brand of copper-bottomed anthems reaches across generations. Unlike many bands of their ilk, the ’80s New Jersey icons are still a force to be reckoned with. They’re still selling tickets to sellout crowds that seem to get younger every time they play a stadium or arena. They’re one of the most popular rock acts of all time, and judging by the throngs that packed into Blossom Music Center on a hot summer night, they are here to stay.
Bon Jovi opened with a rousing take on the latest single, “Beautiful Drug,” followed by the anthemic “Do What You Can,” from their recent album 2020. These new hits showed off a more melodic side of the band and Jon’s effective lower range. Nonetheless, the old-school classics were what people came to hear.
Among those classics was the band’s opening track, “Always.” Jon’s famous smile spread across the crowd and the energy in the room exploded. The band plowed through the hit list, including smashes from their heyday (“You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Wanted Dead or Alive,” “Livin’ on a Prayer”) and recent songs that have become concert staples (“This House is Not for Sale,” “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?”).
It’s worth noting that Jon didn’t really need to sing all of those hits. The rest of the band was in top form. Phil X does a great job filling in for longtime guitarist Richie Sambora, bassist Hugh McDonald is an anchor to the whole thing and Tico Torres can smash a drum kit with ease. Keyboardist David Bryan is also a force to be reckoned with and his signature synth sound can be heard from a mile away.
Bon Jovi rounded out the set with two acoustic songs. Jon sounded fine singing “Who Says You Can’t Go Back” but he definitely missed the upper voice that Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles brought to their country crossover version of the song. He also sounded good during the anthemic “American Reckoning,” which he wrote about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on his hometown of Sayreville, NJ.
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