Before I start I would like to state for the jury that I am not a huge fan of tribute acts. I have seen many that have tried valiantly and failed miserably, but to have a chance to see a tribute to one of my favourite bands of all time was something I didn’t want to miss. You see, since Richie Sambora’s dramatic mid-tour divorce from the band, I have refused to go see them. The well-oiled harmonies & ripping guitar solos are just not the same without him. So to get to see ‘Bon Jovi’ with ‘Richie’ again was something not to be missed – and disappointed, I certainly was not.
The 500+ strong crowds at The Northshore were in fine form and voice when the legendary voice box riff of LIVING ON A PRAYER broke through the speakers, as ‘Richie’, the extremely talented ANDREW DI STEFANO, started the evening rolling. Pushing the group along from behind his drum kit was FRANK FRISINA, putting in a shift that would make Tico Torres himself proud. And then on bounced JBJ himself, the charismatic GRAEME SMAILES, 80’s perm, headband and all. Quickly we were all swept along, as hit after hit was played with energy & plenty of crowd participation. YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME had the crowd in full voice, as SMAILES waved his fist the air at every opportunity. The funky baseline of KEEP THE FAITH was punched out by SIMON WHYTE, before Colin & Michelle were introduced to the crowd on their wedding anniversary, as SMAILES dedicated their wedding song ALWAYS, with the whole of the Northshore singing along.
Its MY LIFE was followed by another crowd favourite BLAZE OF GLORY, with the Northshore choir raising the roof. BAD MEDICINE saw SMAILES lift the crowd to their feet as the whole room bounced in unison, before FRISINA was let loose on his kit with a fine drum solo. LAY YOUR HANDS ON ME, I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU and BORN TO BE MY BABY were fired out of the Jovi cannon next, as we were reminded just how good the back catalogue has been over the years. ONE WILD NIGHT caught some of the crowd unawares, as only the die-hard fans knew the words, but IN THESE ARMS soon put that right. The forever classic WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE saw STEFANO at his best, with his black cowboy hat tipped down over his eyes, as the guitar cried out the now legendary solo to perfection. RUNAWAY once again reminded the crowd what a special night of stadium rock anthems we had been witnessing. The band left the stage to cries of ‘more’ before returning for the encore of RAISE YOUR HANDS from the iconic Slippery When Wet album from 1986.
The band told us they hadn’t played the Northern Suburbs in their 5 years together. Well, we better not have to wait for another 5 years until they return. A night of classic stadium rock? In a pub? What more could you want.
by Sean Bennett