1st in Melbourne and what a cracking first night of summer the weather gods delivered for Bon Jovi’s debut night of their Aussie run of the This House Is Not For Sale world tour. It’s been a big 2018 for all things Jovi with a well deserved induction into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame topping off a year where interest has peaked. Playing the MCG at first may have seemed a tad ambitious, but the 60,000 strong crowd justified the choice of a mega stadium for a mega band. When you aim to sell out the desert, well the MCG is just a logical step-up from Marvel Stadium on their last visit to Melbourne back in 2013.
Hitting the stage with the unfurling of a digital Aussie flag and the sound of screeching tyres via the massive video backdrop, the band launched into a latest album double shot with the album & tour title track THINFS and the anthemic Knockout. You Give Love A Bad Name got the crowds vocals chords nicely warmed up early on, which for many was possibly the only familiar song in a mid-tempo first half of the set largely dominated by songs from latter day and countryfied Jovi. A hot summers night with a 2+ hour set awaiting us all, no point in the band and crowd peaking too early, right?
With original members Jon, Tico Torres and David Bryan and long serving bass player Hugh McDonald now joined by Phil X & John Shanks on guitars and Everett Bradley (percussion) it’s a different dynamic up on stage these days, especially on songs like It’s My Life and Born To Be My Baby where tonight it’s the new boys bringing the energy and punch. Jon clad in heart and dagger leather jacket still looks every bit the iconic rockstar, even if his stage moves and vocal delivery is a little more battle worn here in 2018 after nearly 40 years of slaying cities and stadiums around the world.
Things really kicked up a notch both in volume and intensity with We Don’t Run, with Jon willing himself, band and crowd to kick things into 2nd gear. With that unmistakable bass line to Keep The Faith ringing out, now it was time to really get our stadium rock on. With so much of the focus usually being on Jon himself, this was a song where Jon left the stage, leaving the others to let rip and display what a truly kick ass bunch of players they are.
With the stage bathed in the glow of a candle lit back screen, Bed Of Roses was cigarette lighter (aka mobile phone) love song time, with the tens of thousands of phones all lit up a sight to behold. With Jon visibly soaking up this sight and atmosphere, the crowd helped him through the chorus and Phil X laid down a killer slow burning solo.
Lay Your Hands On Me and Bad Medicine, sandwiched in between I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead finished the set proper in strong fashion. With the video screens getting a solid workout in Bad Medicine featuring larger than life dancing girls, the band made a quick exit for another leather jacket change for Jon and obligatory encore departure.
Slowly re-emerging to a stage awash in red, was great to see deeper New Jersey album cut Blood On Blood kicking off the encore. I’ll Be There For You was a song once the domain of Richie, but with the infectious enthusiasm and performance from Phil X during tonight’s entire set, for many in the crowd this time around to ponder, Richie who?
Stadium rock songs don’t come much bigger than Wanted Dead Or Alive and Livin’ On A Prayer, especially when you’ve got a stadium of 60,000+ people to join in on backing vocals. Tonight wasn’t so much about a performance by a band with a point to prove as it was a chance for 60,000+ people to relive 30 year old memories lived to a soundtrack of some of rock music’s biggest ever songs. And that’s where the legacy of Bon Jovi can’t ever be denied.