BON JOVI – Oslo – Telenor Arena

BON JOVI – Oslo – Telenor Arena

Years have passed by since me, together with my childhood friends, partied on old days famous hits including those of the New Jersey based rockers from Bon Jovi. For many those were some of the most important songs to play to your better half and to declare your deepest emotions. Therefore it was quite exciting to finally see Jon Bon Jovi and his bandmates live in front of my eyes, to hear their sound live to overall to experience the whole live package. A package that wasn’t of the small kind.

For some reason, the concert was moved from Valle Hovin stadium in Oslo to Telenor arena, offering the more ‘intimate’ atmosphere, as intimate as it can be when you ‘share’ the band with about 23.000 other living souls. Before entering, I went around the place and I had to stare for a while at the amount of buses parked outside and only try to imagine the logistics behind the event. Once inside, things became a bit clear: the stage was under a giant Cadillac front, the backdrop or better said, back wall, was made of countless squares that, together with the car’s huge frontlights and the front bumper acted both as screens and lights. Two huge screens were placed on the side of the stage so that we’d get a good look at each drop of sweat and there were a lot of projections on big screens above the stage/car (probably meant to resemble a windshield, not too obvious though, at least from my angle).

It was a pleasant sight to watch how in about half an hour the crowd has filled in most of the stadium and once the music stormed out from the speakers, it was obvious that there’s hardly any compromise in the way the stage show (meaning lights and projections) was directed. You could see the work of people with a lot of experience, since every little second was carefully accounted for. The Cadillac went through a variety of colors, its frontlights projected everything from thick ‘sound waves’ that’d follow the rhythm to red dancing skeleton-girls (on the song Bad Medicine).

From the very beginning we were told that there won’t be much talking, so we got about two and a half hours of musical mix, blending the most known hits with songs from the latest album, ‘What about now’. People cheered at each song, but you could easily tell the difference in the sound intensity when a known riff would be performed, versus a new ‘unknown’ song. But no matter if the song was old or new, watching that amount of people waving their hands up in the air in the rhythm set by the band or having thousands of cameras lights turned towards the stage to look ‘as stars’ were some of the most intense moments that gave me the shivers down my spine. It was simply beautiful and probably most rewarding for the band.

For the most romantic moment of the concert (Make a memory, Bed of Roses and Someday I’ll be Saturday Night), Jon Bon Jovi took his acoustic guitar and walked on the semi circle that was separating the ‘Diamond Circle’ from the rest of the crowd area. All lights were on him and despite the fact that the high notes don’t sound as stable and long as I knew them from the CDs, the man did an impressive job for his age. Impressive was also to see how he more or less continuously ran around with the guitar or microphone, jumped or did tricks. And I bet it was rather warm under all those lights.

We had a couple of guitar solos, mainly during Keep the Faith and Always and those were the moments when I wished I’d see Richie Sambora on stage, just to see how he’d do it. I haven’t checked who replaced him, and I don’t know if this is imposed or not, but except the singer, none of the other guitarists move too much. There’s more movement behind the drumkit and between the two racks with keyboards, but, unfortunately, those two can’t just carry their instruments around the stage and show off.

There was show off from mr. Bon Jovi himself who did get a loud round of cheerings for shaking his bum several times and for playing a lovely acoustic intro for Living on a Prayer. Probably the most touching moment of the show was when the band paid their respects to Ray Manzarek, former keyboard played of The Doors, as the day of the concert was also the day when he passed away. Jon Bon Jovi asked Ray to say Hello to Jim and that they should meet soon, but not too soon. Then we had a medley of Doors’ Roadhouse Blues and Rolling Stone’s It’s only Rock’n’Roll. All of this in the middle of Bad Medicine. Pretty nice play.

I personally missed a song or two on the playlist, but that’s more or less the only thing I can complain about. And a bit of a shy start when the mood felt a bit tense, but after a song or two, everything went as smooth as a well polished car body. Hats off to the artists and everyone involved in the show, and wishing that more and more bands would get the possibility to organise such shows.