“Sorry I’m late,” said Jon Bon Jovi.
In a world where a show “promptly” starts at 8 p.m., but doesn’t really start until 9 p.m., he really was late – a week late.
A slight sickness held Bon Jovi up from performing back “home” at Madison Square Garden in front of a sold-out crowd. The illness only prevented him from performing for a week, and while at times his voice showed weakness, this was a powerfully memorable performance.
The weakness may not have been from the sickness, and could have just been the voice of an aging icon, but the few notes he couldn’t hit were outnumbered by the ones he could.
The show’s energy seemed to be built upon the patience of the crowd waiting for a full week. The fans in attendance were mostly standing and singing along. In fact, the energy of the crowd propelled Bon Jovi as a band to perform at a remarkable level.
For someone who was recently sick, Bon Jovi made it clear this wasn’t just two hours and 45 minutes of songs and speeches. This was 165 minutes of rock ‘n’ roll, with some speeches mixed in. The show’s energy pounded with the beginning of “This House is Not for Sale” and reached fever-high levels with “You Give Love a Bad Name” early in the set.
This classic rocker didn’t rely on classic technology either. The lights, and later projections, made the show unique in its presentation. After countless concerts, it was a completely original – and often obstructing for those behind the stage – way to use lighting to tell a story.
Speaking of telling a story, he did take some time halfway through the show to talk about the new album, “This House is Not for Sale,” the cover art that accompanied it and how houses became people. Music became stories and his words became something else for anyone who listened.
The show did slow down in rhythm, but not in emotion or power. This was a man speaking of his art, passion and motivation for writing his latest work. Prior to “New Year’s Day,” a song from the new album, Bon Jovi gave an ode to the theater, referencing Sting’s “Last Ship.”
The crowd was seated for this slower, lesser-known section, and the band noticed. They didn’t back down, but sent a message to the crowd. “From here on out, it’s the hits, hits and more hits!” Bon Jovi yelled to the roar of a now-standing crowd.
A rocking trio of “Have a Nice Day,” “Bad Medicine” and “Keep the Faith” closed out a 20-song main set to a standing, loudly-clapping crowd. He jumped into the crowd and instantly sent it into a frenzy.
The screams of the crowd, both young and old, made the stadium rock beneath spectators’ feet.
After a long break, he reappeared in a New York Rangers T-shirt to sing a four-song encore that ended with the passionately sung duo of “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.” The crowd even took over a verse for the front man as the band played.
For a show that was delayed by a week, it was a performance worth the wait. The band’s last concert at the venue was for “12.12.12: The Concert for Sandy Relief,” and the more than four-year wait, was worth the price of admission.
Four years from now those in attendance won’t remember the few notes he missed and instead remember that the April 13 concert with Bon Jovi at the Garden was an amazing show.