One moment summed up this first night of the New Jersey rockers' UK arena tour more than any other, yet it featured the star of the show in name only. In one of the live camera's dalliances away from the strutting Jon Bon Jovi, it alighted on a pretty brunette by the flanks of the stage. She was sporting a short tartan skirt and a T-shirt bearing the words "Mrs Bon Jovi".
It was always this way, of course. Bon Jovi, the singer, is no musical revolutionary, and his charm and good looks are as accountable for his band's success as their penchant for catchy soft rock. Surveying the crowd it's easy to assess their demographic: girls in matching pink cowboy hats and other, more conservatively-dressed women with their ambivalent boyfriends.
Yet their legacy is not to be underestimated. In the 22 years since their debut, Bon Jovi have amassed a repertoire of hits, and the fact roughly three-quarters of the two-and-a-half-hour set consisted of tracks even a casual fan would know the chorus of word for word is no mean feat.
In terms of value for money then, anyone who had splashed out stadium prices would have been richly rewarded. Proceedings were not short of the good-natured posturing either. At one point, Bon Jovi - in tight black jeans and distressed denim jacket -strutted messianically through the crowd on a catwalk, gamely trying to sing "In These Arms". At another, Jon Bon Jovi selflessly departed the stage to let guitarist Richie Sambora sing "I'll Be There for You".
A coda of Lulu's "Shout" at the end of "Bad Medicine" may have seemed like a regional deference, but it's a motif the band have adopted on each date of this tour.
While such gimmicks are fun, Bon Jovi is no Springsteen. He's best suited to pounding out entertaining rockers such as "Livin' on a Prayer" and "Keep the Faith". As video images of the New Jersey Turnpike played in the background, the homesick "Who Says You Can't Go Home" made for the most seemingly honest moment of the show.
It's a sweet song, but the singer earned as big a cheer for brushing aside the security guard who tried to remove one middle-aged stage invader intent on grinding against him.
Jon Bon Jovi then, coming soon to a hen night near you. All of them, in fact.
Touring until 11 June (visit www.bonjovi.com)Reuse content