“I MAY NOT be as handsome as Justin Bieber, I may not be able to dance as well as Justin Timberlake, but I’ve been here longer than those two combined.”
These were the words of rock star Jon Bon Jovi.
After a performance that lasted nearly three hours at FNB Stadium on Saturday, it seemed patently clear that Bon Jovi isn’t quite ready to leave the stage.
In front of a crowd of around 70 000 that had braved the wintry chill, the band Bon Jovi played with an energy that belied their advancing years.
A career spanning three decades in a cut-throat business is the preserve of legends – a status this US super group undoubtedly deserve. There was plenty of stage-craft for opening act Daniel Baron to soak up.
This young musician’s electro-rock set featured plenty of eye candy (his topless drummer nearly stole the show) and lots of earnest, edgy music.
He was followed by 2010 Idols winner Elvis Blue, now a bona fide star in his own right. Blue warmed up the crowd nicely for the main event and there was a lot of appreciation for his music.
Then it was the turn of Bon Jovi, and they had their Joburg audience eating out of the palm of their hands as they tore through a selection of their greatest hits, with plenty of enthusiastic singing accompanying hits like Bed of Roses, Bad Medicine and Dead Or Alive.
At times, as one song segued into the next, it felt more like a jam session than a choreographed concert with the musicians clearly feeding off the energy of the fans.
The Because We Can tour is also about promoting their latest album and those in attendance responded well to the new material.
It was, however, the classics the crowd had come to hear and the band obliged with favourites such as Always and Living On A Prayer in a lengthy encore, and catchy cover versions of songs by The Rolling Stones and Roy Orbison.
So seamless was the music that few in attendance noticed the absence of legendary guitarist Richie Sambora – who it is rumoured had a falling out with Jon Bon Jovi on the eve of this tour.
On Saturday night, the remaining members of the band, and a few hired hands, showed why Bon Jovi have racked up figures of more than 130 million record sales.
It’s been a fairytale career so far and, at the stroke of midnight, the spell they cast seemed in little danger of being broken.