Bon Jovi @ National Bowl, Milton Keynes,
June 11th 2006
Four years after the epic show Bon Jovi served up in 2002 to 95,000 in London’s Hyde Park, New Jerseys second sons arrive back in the UK and not without a bit of controversy. Wembley Stadium the originally proposed venue, as most will know has taken a turn for the worse, as the completion deadline was less reliable than a builders estimate. Due to some dodgy Aussie construction work and British political nonsense this will not be finished for the 2010 FA cup final let alone the 2007 date. So what does a band do when the historic venue you are about to open decides it not ready? You shift it an hour and a half up the M1 to Milton Keynes. What were they thinking!! that’s miles away from the original location. The gate on the day showed this, down from a 90,000 sell out at Wembley to a mere 45,00 at the National Bowl, Twickenham anyone? Na, too simple!
Anyways, despite the obvious problems as a dedicated follower I made the trip up with Rachel, one of my friends from Summit Camp 06 (Jingkei was sunning himself in Newquay, huh! A lousy excuse if you ask me). The Bowl itself is actually a really nice venue, really steeply banked edges make for good views all round and plenty of space to lounge and drink all day in the heat.
National Bowl @ Milton Keynes
First up on stage were a band called ‘Spin‘ who won a competition run by Virgin Radio. Personally I’d rather they didn’t, how they won was unfathomable to me. Their sound was mashed somewhere between a drunk Motley Crue and stoned Freddy Mercury on a vampiric mission to suck life from all who look upon them.
The first act to worthy their place on the line-up appears to the relief of the entire crowd. Canadian rockers Nickleback burst onto stage and awaken the crowd from it’s slumber (mainly due to Spin). Bursting through tracks from the last three albums Nickleback proved that they are a great outdoor rock band with scores of energy and whole hatful of unforgettable tracks. The pick of these were “Never Again”, “Too Bad” both taken from their breakthrough album Silver Side Up alongside more recent tracks “Someday” and “Photograph”. Am i forgetting one, a damn annoying AC/DC obsessed female…um, urr, BEAST! which lay behind us ensured that we didn’t. After every song, this infuriating individual would scream “How You Remind Me”!!! Yes love, we know, now shut up and give that growly masculine voice a rest!! Nickleback did a sterling job of rousing the crowd and raising morale ready for the headliners.
Nickleback raising the emotionlly drained.
As if they even need anyone supporting them, Bon Jovi casually stroll out to window shattering screams from the adoring fans and kick of the epic gig with a cover of “Rockin’ In The Free World” taken from their last live album “One Wild Night”. Not even at the grand old age of 44 Jon still looks a shaggy haired bundle of youth, either the magic of the make up artists were at full strength or he is just ageless. Richie Sambora on the other hand the rock veteran who has been rocking crowds around the globe for as long as I’ve been on the planet was looking his uber-cool self, and to crowd hilarity was also sporting a policeman’s helmet. Looks aside the early set was dominated with some great stadium tracks rock tracks such as “Captain Crash And The Beauty Queen From Mars”, “Have A Nice Day”, “Runaway” and “Sleep When I’m Dead”.
Where this show excelled was they know the fans favourite tracks and they played pretty much every one, these not being the pop classics but lesser known album tracks, which really had the crowd jumping. “Wild In The Streets”, “Raise Your Hands”, “Story Of My Life” being prime examples. The balladry had to come sooner or later and the versions played were superb, Richie Sambora taking vocal duties on “I’ll be There For You” was a master touch as I prefer Richies voice to Jons, go Figure?, but Jon took on the reworked version of “Always” from the “This Left Feel Right” Album, was the just because he just cant hit those high notes no more? or just laziness? Either way it was inspired.
The acustomed two Encore’s didn’t disappoint either with renditions of the rock your socks “Last Man Standing” and “Bad Medicine” giving every last bit of energy these stadium veterans had. Still my favourite track “Blood on Blood” was played loud and true. “…But me, I’m just the singer of a long haired rock and roll band” Jon struck these vocals with a true honesty and a quick nod to Richie raised a smile on every face here this evening. Hell what a rock and roll band tho, 20 years and still going and I’m sure plastic surgery will ensure a few more decades will pass before we see the last of them.
Apologies for the poor photo quality, I’m a bit skint and cant afford ‘Gold Circle’ standing tickets, boo!