People like likable.
  • People like likable.
Yesterday was a big day for Bon Jovi. They kicked off their Circle World Tour—circle as in, that's the name of their new record, and circle as in, we are all in this together and we should hold hands in a circle (JBJ has been campaigning for social causes and lefty candidates since 2000, and the new record is an Issues Record)—with two solid hours of soft hard rock at what JBJ called "Key West Arena," they stood in solidarity as shredder Richie Sambora insisted on wearing feathers, and they learned from a neon yellow sign held up by someone in the cheap seats that "I AM NAMED JOVI SAMBORA." Jovi Sambora, that is a serious condition you have.

My cameras battery died before they took the stage, but I couldnt have beaten this anyway. RIGHT?
  • My camera's battery died before they took the stage, but I couldn't have beaten this anyway. RIGHT?
It was a great concert, frankly. People love a Bon Jovi, and for good reason. Jon, who'll be 48 next month, is still a nice guy with the face and body of a heartbreaker. He's earnest and deeply likable. He also has a lovably awkward way with his own butt and legs. (The top half of his body, including his head and his eternally lustrous hair, is fairly spectacular and moves properly.) The rest of the band is out of central casting: the poodle keyboardist (remember him?!), the tough-guy sunglassed drummer, and then Richie, the sorta bad boy who was married to Heather Locklear and dated Denise Richards and has trouble with the booze.

"I want to thank you very much for your friendship," Jon announced to the crowd of, what, about 17,000? He was so comfortable onstage, and so excited and grateful to be back arena-rocking it. At one point he actually asked the audience, during the encore, if any people remaining in their seats would "do me the honor of standing up?" (He's on a roll; last week he was on "30 Rock." He also checked out a homeless shelter as a model for his own foundation's charity work while he was in Seattle, which I wrote about here.) And his voice is as melodious-yet-husky as ever. He sang his heart out this kickoff night (I worried about tonight!).

There were songs from the new record, songs from the very first record in 1984 ("that's like showing somebody your baby pictures," Jon said after "Roulette" and "Shot Through the Heart"), songs from "New Jersey" (Richie sang "Homebound Train" for the first time in concert, and he was great and gruff and bluesy), and, of course, what everybody was hoping for—songs from "Slippery When Wet."

Thing is, the guys didn't seem tired or washed up at all.

There were two major highlights: Jon doing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"—if there's one major difference between Bon Jovi now and Bon Jovi then, it's that they're more musical now; they actually seem musically capable of more, despite older throats and fingers and whatnot—and the final number, which, of course, was "Livin' on a Prayer."

The beauty of that song, aside from the beauty of the song WHICH IS CONSIDERABLE (I have strong, strong feelings on this subject), is that it demonstrates that this band's seeming newfound social activism on behalf of working and poor people isn't actually new—Tommy had his six string in hock way back in the day, somewhere not far from where these guys are from in New Jersey.

So if you're debating going tonight, do it. There are still tickets left from what I can gather over at the Bon Jovi web site. You'll get ridiculous Bolshevik graphics and cheesy montages and heartfelt cliches, and it will all be just great. Unless somebody gets named Jovi Sambora.

If you want to see a photo and a set list, check out Ernest Jasmin's coverage here or a slew of photos of the concert at Back Beat Seattle.