Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bon Jovi - July 27, 2001

For those of you who may not know, long before Cousin Ryo was the author of The Rock And Roll Guru blog, I was a soundman/DJ for a comedy show in Northern New Jersey. I spent several years working for The Mickey Who? Comedy Show and had a lot of fun doing it. Mickey (the producer and host of the show) was a close friend and we were both huge Bon Jovi fans. So on a cold February night, I talked Mickey into getting tickets to see Bon Jovi at Giants Stadium that July. It would be the first time I witnessed the beloved boys from the Garden State live in concert.

Mickey had concerns that he would end up sitting next to a big burly guy instead of some hot babe, which is actually quite funny. If you factor in that more than 70% of Bon Jovi concert attendees are female, then it’s obvious that percentages were on Mickey’s side for sitting next to a babe. However, if you knew Mickey well, you’d know that he had a better chance of sitting next to the burly bouncer guy, because that’s just Mick’s luck. I assured him that if a burly biker dude ended up cramping his style, he and I could switch seats. I think that finally sold him on getting a ticket.

On a hot summer afternoon in July, we packed up my car and headed over to Giants Stadium for some afternoon tailgating complete with Nerf football, cold drinks, and grilled pizzas. Have you ever grilled a Mama Celeste pizza for one? If not, I highly recommend it. Mickey, a pizza connoisseur, loves them. We hung out in the warm summer sun, enjoyed good food and good company. There were not many concerns about what time we went into the show, neither of us cared if we missed Eve 6, but we both wanted to see Sugar Ray prior to Bon Jovi taking the stage for the night.

As we entered Giants Stadium, we caught the very tail end of Eve 6’s set. I don’t even remember what song it was. It’s possible that they were performing Inside Out, but I can’t be certain. Mickey and I were more interested in the t-shirt stands then the band. It’s not that I don’t like Eve 6, because I do, I just wasn’t overly excited to see them perform a condensed set.

Sugar Ray was up next and while I don’t recall which songs they performed, I know they were good. By the time Sugar Ray took the stage, Mickey and I had already found our seats and settled in. Sugar Ray played a tight, 45 minute set that was a lot of fun. They performed all of their hits and I think the closer was Fly, which is a great song. By the time Sugar Ray’s set ended, no one had shown up to sit next to Mickey. We were still wondering if he would get the babes or the bikers.

On my left was a 12 year old girl dressed in a Superman T-Shirt. She was a cute kid, attending the concert with her parents. The excitement was written all over her face and it was obvious that she was a huge Bon Jovi fan. What I didn’t realize was how huge of a fan she was.

The night wore on and we waited for the headliners to take the stage. As the sun started to settle over the western horizon, the lights for the stadium went out and the roar of the crowd exploded. Bon Jovi walked onto the stage and tore into their opening number, One Wild Night. What a great way to start the show!

As the song played on, the burly dudes arrived, just as Mickey had predicted. Cramming into the aisle next to him were about 6 dudes, all hugging and humping one another. They weren’t gay, just obviously intoxicated, and of course they started moving into Mickey’s space. I looked over at him with a laugh and asked if he needed to switch seats. He was ok at the time. He was willing to give the dudes the benefit of the doubt that they would shuffle off to their own seats after the first song.

Raise Your Hands came next, one of my favorite Bon Jovi tunes ever, and I went nuts. Singing and clapping along, I was euphoric in the moment. Mick was enjoying it as well, but the dudes had not left and I noticed that he kept glancing in their direction. When You Give Love A Bad Name was performed and the dudes still hadn’t left, I knew it was time to intervene.

“Do you want me to take care of this?” I asked.

Mickey looked at the guys again and I could see him contemplating. I know he wanted to be a nice guy, but was also torn over the fact that the dudes might try to hump him next. No heterosexual male wants to be humped by some drunk guy at a Bon Jovi concert – that’s a fact. Mick nodded, putting the nice guy inside him away, and I moved immediately. I approached the dudes and politely asked them to move away from us. When my request was denied (by the actions of them not moving) I sought a higher power. Security came in and finally had the drunks find their seats. Now we could enjoy the rest of the night hump free.

Bon Jovi just continued to roll with the hits. Jon was a superior frontman on stage, getting the crowd into it, and singing with the power that he can bring. He made sure the fans were getting their money’s worth and having a great time. After a spectacular rendition of Bed Of Roses, it was Richie Sambora’s turn to take the microphone. That’s when I would find out just what a huge fan the 12-year old girl sitting next to me was.

Not only had she sung every word to every song thus far, but when Richie took the lead vocals for Stranger In This Town she sang along with that song too! While most folks were heading for the rest rooms, this girl was singing like the band was playing Living On A Prayer. Now that was a real fan!

The hits continued after Richie’s solo spot. It’s My Life, Keep The Faith, Blaze of Glory, Lay Your Hands On Me, and Bad Medicine were all performed with a ferocity. It was Saturday night in New Jersey and Bon Jovi was rocking the hometown crowd. Their performance was legendary and though I had seen a lot of concerts up until that point, this show was fighting for one of the best I ever witnessed. I sat in wonder as to why I had never seen the band live before that night.

The encore was exceptional with Always, Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night, Wanted Dead Or Alive, and a great version of Twist and Shout. Bon Jovi proved to be everything that I had hoped for and more. The band was amazing and their concert was incredible.

This would also be the last concert that I ever saw before 9/11. The world changed after that, becoming a darker place, and perhaps that is why I remember this concert so fondly. It was the last carefree rock moment that I had.

One Wild Night
Raise Your Hands
You Give Love A Bad Name
Born To Be My Baby
Livin’ On A Prayer
Bed of Roses
Stranger In This Town
It’s My Life
I Got The Girl
Just Older
Keep The Faith
Blaze Of Glory
Wild In The Streets
Lay Your Hands On Me
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
Bad Medicine
Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night
Wanted Dead Or Alive
Twist & Shout

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