Last Night: Bon Jovi At Toyota Center

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Photos by Groovehouse
Bon Jovi
Toyota Center
May 17, 2011

Keep the faith with Bon Jovi and their hordes of Houston fans in our slideshow.

It's no easy feat to emerge relatively unscathed from the ruins of the '80s metal boom. Bon Jovi's more glam-oriented contemporaries can no longer hope to fill the big arenas (though we understand you can catch Whitesnake and Warrant at Coushatta this weekend), and while Jon and the boys certainly exploited the spandex and Aqua Net trappings of that era to their full advantage, you could tell they craved something that eluded their peers: Legitimacy.

Because when you get down the nuts and bolts of it, Bon Jovi's appeal has always rested on their ability to match power chord to cliché. Look at some of those song titles: "The More Things Change?" "Have a Nice Day?" "Keep the Faith?" You wonder sometimes if JBJ eats a lot of fortune cookies.

But what can't be denied is the man's ability to work a crowd. There is a dearth of rock and roll showmen here in the new millennium, but even at 49 years of age, the formerly leonine lead singer pranced, cajoled, and posed his way into the audience's heart at Toyota Center last night.

Put another way, he saw 20,000 faces, and he rocked them all.

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The band came out to an animated opening sequence that looked like TRON as directed by Michael Bay, and they didn't open especially strong. "Lost Highway" is one of those songs that makes people think of the New Jersey band as "Sprinsgteen lite," with its talk of "dashboard Jesuses" and "half a tank of gas." But from there the band kicked into "You Give Love a Bad Name," and the crowd was Jon's from then on.

When we say JBJ is a poser, we mean it in the best possible - literal - way. He's honed his stage presence over three decades of performances into a well-oiled fist pumping, foot stomping machine, and the audience licked it up. To quote another, more flamboyant rock group.

"Born to Be My Baby" was next, followed by another relative clunker, "We Weren't Born to Follow" from their most recent release, the poorly received Circle. The quasi-motivational visuals on the otherwise impressive video system didn't help, as the color palette was obviously meant to remind us of those Obama "Hope" ads. It's cool, because we know JBJ's an Obama guy, Aftermath just wasn't sure Oprah Winfrey belongs in the same stratum as Winston Churchill.

For "Runaway," JBJ said he was taking us back in his time machine to the Summit ("I was there once!"), and we must admit, for those three minutes he could have led 20,000 people burning and looting their way through downtown Houston. Pray he never uses his powers for evil.

Location Info

Venue

Map

Toyota Center

1510 Polk, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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12 comments
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Tensasparish
Tensasparish

You're just another fly-by-night critic who wrote this review to pick a fight with Bon Jovi and Jovi fans, get in line, while you wait, take a number and hold it between your sticky buns. 

Tensasparish
Tensasparish

You're just another fly-by-night critic who wrote this review to pick a fight with Bon Jovi and Jovi fans, get in line, while you wait, take a number and hold it between your sticky buns. 

E Street Band
E Street Band

If Jon depends so heavily on Ritchie then he should have done the honorable thing and waited till Ritchie could be part of the show. Instead he showed that while he may be a decent showman, he is at heart a shallow money hungry  corporate shill who's worried about his paycheck more than his fans or brothers. The only comparison to Bruce is that they are from the same state.

Sandy P
Sandy P

It had nothing to do with Jon's paycheck.  There are hundreds of people who work on the tour - stage setup, lighting personal, stage crew etc.  Those people count on the work to support themselves and their family.  Cancelling the tour would be a hardship to them.  Richie did what he needed to do and Jon did what he needed to do.  Don't think for a moment Bruce Springsteen wouldn't have done the same under these trying circumstances.  It was the only honorable thing to do.

Carla
Carla

Don't twist people's words just to bash Jon Bon Jovi. First, it's Richie without a T, second, he relies enough, but he's 'heavily' proven that he can carry a show regardless of Richie's last minute reneg on a contract, and finally, sticking "brotherhood" into something way more complicated than that is absolutely unfair. 

E Street Band
E Street Band

Lot of heart you have, the guy (the only reason to see the band) is in Rehab trying to straighten himself out and your comment is that he reneged on a contract. If people wanted to spend 129$ (or more) plus fees for a Jon Bon Jovi solo show with hired musicians (al la Roger Waters recent wall show) that's fine. But it was bill as the BAND Bon Jovi. There was even a picture of Ritchie on the screen entering the Toyota Center. A band that has been around that long is a brotherhood. You stick by your brothers in thick and thin. It's not that complicated. You are an artist in a group or you are a money grubbing whore. Jon did a complete money grab by not postponing or offering refunds. 

Brian
Brian

Actually Bon Jovi usually play 2.5-hour shows, with out 26-27 songs (though they really should dig into their catalogue more, but that's another argument.) They've just been mailing it in, setlist-wise, since Richie ended up in rehab.

Serpephone
Serpephone

Critics will NEVER appreciate Bon Jovi...

I don't care--I've been teased about my love for the band since I added "Bon Jovi" to my list of things I love in my high school yearbook in the grunge-band era of the 90s...

WHATEVER!

Carla
Carla

 Completely agree with JillianneK. Next time you get assigned to review a band, maybe YOU should dig deeper. Bon  Jovi's best is its most unknown. Jon is for some reason (probably the decades of critical bashing) insecure about it all, and one of his biggest mistakes is not releasing some of his/their best stuff as singles. But that it can support a 3 hour show, there is absolutely no question. His idol from the Garden state is not missing a sizeable chunk of his band when he does his marathons.

Julie
Julie

I've seen Bon Jovi pull off several 3+ hour shows with ease. They're struggling without Richie Sambora - understandably. Jon's not used to doing it without his right hand man.

JillianneK
JillianneK

"it'll never happen because the band's material won't support it, and his audience probably wouldn't stand for it." I beg to differ. Bon Jovi has a catalog that could easily support a 3 hour show. And given how well JBJ can hold a crowd in the palm of his hand, I doubt he'd have any problem keeping them around. I'm a big fan and my only complaint is how  predictable the setlists have become. I'd definitely stick around for three hours or more if they'd dig deeper in the catalog.  

Pigzero
Pigzero

Apparently you didn't stay for the encore.....they sang Saturday Night,Wanted and Livin on a Prayer 

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