Getting things started with a dose of country blues from Kid Rock with Rock Bottom Blues was an opening to an incredulously self-indulgent commencement to an evening of entertainment, and with tunes like ‘You Never met a MF quite like me’ there was no hiding from the brazenness of claims.
There may have been warnings for parents to block their kids’ ears at the outset of ‘Forty’, but after all that had happened it was probably a little late for that. Regardless of widespread appeal, there was universal laughter shared with the line of, “Bruce Springsteen is f***** 63 and the Stones are almost dead.” Can’t really disagree with the truth!
A short stint of hitting the decks as DJ was soon replaced with the sounds of a revival and then the strange projections of an image of Nelson Mandela on screen during Born Free that made it appear as though he was riding the car that formed the stage. It may have been the visual angle depending on position in the venue, but best intentions came off a little awry. But it all finished on a high, with the tales of Sweet Home Alabama filling the stadium in All Summer Long as the crowd grew.
The distance from seats to stage could have resulted in anyone walking onto stage as the main act, with no means of being able to clearly see anyone walking onto the stage as the lights dropped. But the screams accompanying the first flash of that pearly white grin on screen was evidence enough, followed by the distinguishable vocals of Jon Bon Jovi, despite starting with the newer That’s What the Water Made Me that may not have yet graced everyone’s ears.
It wasn’t long before the evening’s greeting was followed up with the classics everyone was waiting for. You Give Love a Bad Name had everyone instantaneously on their feet and singing along in fine voice and even taking over the chorus after a little encouragement from the stage, but those in seats returned to sitting just as quickly as soon as it was over but still managing to contribute with their hand raising actions and a few jazz hand motions in Raise Your Hands.
Entertainment and crowd pleasing was not granted in sacrifice of the music, with the more subdue delivery of Lost Highway, but the instructions were clear from the stage – not a lot of talking, just some squawking – and there didn’t seem to be any issues with that. Yet another crowd pleaser of It’s My Life filled the air with fervent shouts before a shift to the present day with Because We Can and a few other newer songs thrown in, evident of sounds shifting over time with contemplative lyrics, tone and delivery.
An impromptu singalong into Keep the Faith resulted in an important lesson in how to rock a pair of maracas on a stadium stage, but after slowing things down for a ballad and another string of newer tracks, the crowd had clearly quietened down given the question, “Are you still out there?”
The answer was soon given, with everyone back on their feet for I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead complete with a little karaoke medley including Run Rudolph Run for the silly season, before it was time for Bad Medicine. Had the crowd been any louder the roof may have just come off, but despite any difficulty keeping up with verses, chorus participation was loud and proud. There was no rest in sight with a cover of Shout before returning to Bad Medicine to end proceedings.
Encore shouts have frequently resulted in overly indulgent repeated chants of ‘five more songs’, and this time it was what we received – In These Arms, travelling all the way back for Runaway, the unmistakable intro to Wanted Dead or Alive, Have A Nice Day and finishing on none other than Livin’ On A Prayer.