Nostalgia is a seductive liar: Bon Jovi concert in Bucharest

If there is one show I regret missing, it is Bon Jovi in 2011. I was decided not to miss them this time around. I heard people talk beforehand that Jon had trouble with his vocal cords and will probably not be up to the task. Vocally speaking, it was even worse than expected. In every other aspect possible, the show was great and fun and made for an amazing night.

First up on stage were Gramofone, who had to face a very torrid hour. Even with that against them, they definitely made an impact on the already thousands of people gathered there. Gramofone are such a fun indie rock band, with a soft but profound sound. They mix blues and funk just enough to create their own style. I was really happy to see them grow and now play on such a big stage and prove it is where they belong.

Next up were Firma, veterans of the Romanian music scene, but whom I had never seen before. I for one was more than impressed. They had a lot of energy and connected well with the public. They have a mixture of energy and confidence to be reserved.

During the changeover, we would see projected on the stage Bon Jovi trivia and different photos from band history or recent shows. Fans could share photos with #bonjovimoments and be featured. This was a very fun and interesting thing to keep people entertained while waiting.
Another thing worth noting is just how many foreigners came to see the show. Especially in diamond circle, the front rows were filled with Americans, Russians, Finnish, Germans, Brazilians, and many more.

Bon Jovi enter the stage and the crowd goes wild. They start with the title song of their newest album, “This House Is Not For Sale”. Next up, “You Give Love a Bad Name”, with a just so slight modification in tempo and vocal line, but even that showed that Jon’s vocals were shaky.

I was sitting in the front rows and I could see that he was trying so hard and he was aware he wasn’t there like he wanted to be. He compensated 100% by moving non stop, getting the public to raise their hands, and the trademark Jon Bon Jovi smile. It took quite a few songs for him to get more comfortable.

Image may contain: 2 people, people on stage
Photo by Carlos Funes

The concert went on with songs new and old, and even if he tried, he wasn’t always there. Not just that he couldn’t reach the high notes, but he would sometimes skip some words or verses altogether. The other musicians, on the other hand, were doing a terrific job, even helping with the backup singing. The projections were such a big part of the show, and yet without upstaging the band. They didn’t need to resort to other gimmicks, the band was getting it done, with just a little extra “sparkle”.
I will give it to Jon that he went big on the acoustic parts and actually landed them. Particularly on “Amen” he really hit the notes.

The set list took us through old and new songs. Hearing “It’s My Life” live is still such a wild and intense experience, even with the vocals as they were. And because we were “really good”, we got a throwback with “Runaway”, one of my favourites. Sure, there were a few “big” songs missing, but that is almost always the case. The band left the stage and remained there for more than 5 minutes, time in which the crowd just went bonkers screaming and cheering. Finally we had an encore of “Living on a Prayer”, “I’d die for you” – a request by the group of fans in the front row, and Twist And Shout.

Image may contain: one or more people, crowd and outdoor
Photo by Carlos Funes

This was a hard review to write and it took me a couple of days because I wanted to really think it through and not come in too strong. There is no debating the fact that Jon just did not deliver vocally. That doesn’t erase all his energy and charisma on stage, how hard he tried, how amazing the other musicians were, how intense the atmosphere was. It also doesn’t erase the legend that Bon Jovi is. After all, nostalgia is a seductive liar. Fans knew going in what to expect and I don’t think they feel “cheated” because they would still go to the show knowing how it was. All throughout the concert, the public was there to support the band and they enjoyed themselves. Once everything is said and done, I know I would definitely see them again.

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