Live Review: Raise Your Hands (Madrid, Spain)

By Fernando Neira (ElPais.com)

Madrid’s river Manzanares still flows along one side of the Vicente Calderón, but last night Bon Jovi convinced 45,000 Madrilenian fans that they were speeding along a dusty highway all the way to New Jersey. Bands don’t get any more American than Bon Jovi – just take the denim jacket with red and white stripes that their charismatic singer was wearing. Sorry football fans, that was not a nod to the Atlético de Madrid football team whose stadium was hosting the show. 

Fans of the American way of life were in for a treat with the reproduction of a 1959 Buick, a stunning scenic backdrop to the Because We Can tour, which disembarked in Madrid yesterday for their only Spanish show.

Bon Jovi have been a successful stadium rock band for thirty years and it seems like they have no intention of a make-over. It’s of little importance that their latest album, What About Now suffered a four-year delay and didn’t sway even the most favorable stars-and-stripes-loving media. So what if guitarist Richie Sambora has walked out and fans haven’t even had time to memorize his replacement’s name. As long as Jon looks good and nails two dozen pompous (and megalomaniac) choruses, the wheels will keep on turning. Even when the sound is as dismal as in the Calderón, where things only get better when you reluctantly give up and just try to ignore the atrocious echo. 

That’s What The Water Made Me got the show on the road as the fans welcomed the band with a cloud of red and yellow cards spelling out the word “Gracias” (Thank you). A tribute from the audience to thank the band for their charitable gesture; they renounced to their profits to have tickets go on sale from €18. We’re not saying Jon Bongiovi is out to be the next Mother Teresa, but an affordable gig went down a treat with the fans. 

The stadium first went into karaoke mode with You Give Love A Bad Name, but the third track, Raise Your Hands, summarized the essence of the band and verbalized the sextet’s ultimate desire: raise your hands, turn the skies into a mass of arms, and go hoarse as you sing along to choruses that all sound dangerously similar. 

They interspersed songs with the tricks of the trade of mass seduction: Jon flashes a sparkling smile, thanks the fans for thirty years of support, says he insisted on this concert “because I wanted to see Spanish girls,” drains cell phone batteries by performing several ballads in a row (Make A Memory, Bed of Roses) and, lest we forget this is an all American band, he strings together Can’t Go Home and a festive approximation to Rockin’ All Over The World, John Fogerty’s anthem. He then grabs a Spanish flag from the crowd for Bad Medicine and wears the Spanish football shirt for the encore. 

There you have it: we’re all happy patriots.