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#224 Bon Jovi @ Slane Castle (June 15th 2013)

Support: Coronas / Bressie / Ham Sandwich

It is fair to say that the reaction to Bon Jovi being named as headliners for Slane was lukewarm at best:

- ‘Outdated’ / ‘Only have one song’ / ‘Load of shite’

Also did you know that:

- Bon Jovi aren’t cool / Bon Jovi is a solo artist?

Bon Jovi - Slane Castle June 15th 2013

If you are a fan of the band then none of the above statements will be new to you of course. One thing though, can someone tell me what is cool? The cool thing to do today was go to the Neil Young concert, or so I was told, which was taking place in the RDS Arena in Dublin. I have never been cool as my music taste apparently shows. Actually that’s a lie, there were a couple of weeks in 1993 that I was but it didn’t last very long. Well if being uncool is liking bands like Bon Jovi then so be it. I am one uncool muthafucker.

This was my fourth time at a Slane Castle concert after seeing the Stereophonics in ‘02, The Stones in ‘07 and Oasis in ‘09. The Stones was by far the best of those three not least because we got right to the front. Gold Circles at venues like Slane really are great although this whole Diamond Circle idea, which this year at Slane seemed to have been an afterthought, is a money making step too far.  Actually was it an afterthought or a very clever piece of sales? It seemed to go like this:

-          Let the fans buy Gold Circle tickets for €96

-          Don’t mention that the GC tickets wouldn’t be right next to the stage

-          Wait a few months and announce a Diamond Circle section

-          Tell the fans they can upgrade their Gold Circle tickets and only for an extra €99

-          Me very annoyed

The day didn’t start well as when we got there we were told the car park fee was €20. I checked previous prices and the only price that came close to that was in 2000 at Wembley Stadium when I paid £15…for a Bon Jovi concert. I realise that venues have to make their money as well but €20 seemed far too steep and getting out of the car park after the gig had finished was ridiculously hard work. It was car park hell. 'Extreme Disorganisation' is the best way I can describe what happened. It was like the dodgems at times with cars trying to get though one exit from seven different queues of traffic. Hope Lord Henry makes sure to sort that out for next time...

The first thing to notice when entering Slane’s rolling grounds is the stage set up. It looks stunning and the mock-up of a 1959 Buick Electra (I googled it) really is striking. The same can't be said of the line up today. As a whole it was pretty weak. I really would have loved a second ‘80s rock band as support. Go the whole retro way with someone like Poison and make it a throwback rock festival. That may just be me though as judging by most of the crowd they probably weren’t too familiar with Brett Michael’s finest lyrics. Also I get the feeling that Jon has always wanted to keep his distance from that whole era and prefers to appeal to the masses and judging by the average age in the crowd he is doing a pretty fine job of it. The young fans (girls) just keep appearing from nowhere. It must be David Bryan’s hair that attracts them. To be fair the idea of having Irish bands as support was a good one and there were three here with Ham Sandwich, Bressie and The Coronas. We made it in time for the latter mainly because of their burgeoning reputation as a live band and sure enough they proved to be excellent. I knew far more songs than I thought and they definitely have potential to go a long way as they handled Slane with ease.

Bon Jovi - Slane Castle June 15th 2013

Bon Jovi’s albums of late may have been a little on the safe side for my liking with none reaching  the creative highs of These Days, yet as a live act the group have few peers and they always put on a good show. This time there would be no Richie. Yes I was gutted about that but I won’t mention it too much here as there has been plenty written about the missing guitarist and the now notorious ‘personal reasons’ already...but please don’t stay away for too long sir.

The headliners opened up tonight, as they have for most of the tour, with new song That’s What The Water Made Me. It is a good steady rocker which takes on more life in the live setting however as an opener I’m not sure it’s strong enough. It turns out to be one of only three new songs played but that’s ok although I would have loved to have heard the excellent Army Of One.

You are never too far away from a Jovi ‘hands in the air’ song and to be honest that’s probably why my arms (in fact the whole body) are aching as I write this. Bad Name, Born To Be My Baby and Raise Your Hands are played early and the crowd respond by being up for a great night from the start. Lost Highway is a little lost early in the set although Because We Can gets a great crowd reaction and seems to genuinely surprise Jon.

Keep the Faith is one of the standouts of the set. That song, when released in 1992, showed a different side to the band and it has grown and grown over its 21 year lifespan. It also shows off the band’s ability, in particular David Bryan who may just be getting cooler in his old age (I must ask him for tips). This is followed by I’ll Be There For You (a song whose lyrics I wanted as my wedding vows…but the wife wouldn’t let me) and it is here that for the first time I really missed Richie’s presence as he sings that song (when allowed) better than anyone. A storming I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead with snippets of Rockin’ All OverThe World and Start Me Up raised the temperature that bit more and the main set closer Bad Medicine continued the theme.

The Slane crowd were now, well and truly, warmed up and the first encore starts off with Dry County. This is a hugely underrated song, one that showed the band beginning to stretch themselves in the early nineties. Tonight it was great as always although again I missed Richie’s presence. Despite this I must say that Phil X, who is filling in for Richie, did a great job. In fact he was great all night although I don’t think he particularly added anything different to the band. Wanted Dead Or Alive is, as always, a classic and then In These Arms was belted out, a song that, like myself, has got better with age.

Bon Jovi - Slane Castle June 15th 2013

Someday and Have A Nice Day are both great even though a girl managed to drop her mobile phone on to my bald palette during the second of those songs and I have a small bruise to prove it (leave me alone…it hurt). The magnificent These Days, the title track from my favourite Jovi album, was chosen from a sign in the front row (good choice girls) before the best Jovi song there is, Blood On Blood. It is that song that, above all others, shows what this band is all about. It’s as good tonight as it ever has been but it is Livin’ On A Prayer that is the bands most famous track and it has Slane Castle jumping as one. I will never get bored of that.

You know you are at a great, great Jovi show when yet another encore is played and although I’m not a huge fan of the sons, I Love This Town really is appropiate but it is the very last song, Always that gets the crowd singing (badly in my case)...and the show finally came to an end. Only the 3 hours and 5 minutes with a total of 30 songs played....I hope those that went to Neil Young had a great time. I hear he was at his self-indulgent best but hey I’m sure those 14 songs were fun and at least you still have your cool. Each to their own.

If you have seen the Bon Jovi before then you know you will get your money’s worth and yes 30 years on they don’t disappoint. In the months before the gig I admit I was a little too hung up on Richie’s absence but even without him this was a superb gig. Was he missed? Of course he was, Bon Jovi aren’t Bon Jovi without Richie and seeing just the three of them taking bows at the end was a little hard to take. Phil X did a great job and huge respect to him but it isn’t the same without Jon’s right hand man. So what of the future? Well I return to Richie. For the group to survive he needs to be back, we need to see the Jersey band back united as one. I hope that happens but in the meantime there is no stopping this band as they were quite superb here and they proved once again what a great live act they are.

Ticket: June 15th 2013 / Wrist Band / Car Park Wrist Band

Ticket Price: €96.00 (Gold Circle)

Set Lists:

http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/bon-jovi/2013/slane-castle-slane-ireland-1bd9cd14.html

http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/the-coronas/2013/slane-castle-slane-ireland-7bd9caf4.html

http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/ham-sandwich/2013/slane-castle-slane-ireland-63d9caeb.html