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Slippery When Awesome: Jeff Hassler Reviews the Bon Jovi Show

I know the other Pencilstorm guys were bummed out that I decided to blow off the Hives show in Cleveland to stay home and see Bon Jovi, but it was a no-brainer. Why drive two hours in a van to some small venue when I can catch one of America's most popular rock acts only 15 minutes from home in a first-class facility like Nationwide Arena? And did I mention Jon Bon Jovi is one of music's all time greatest artists/frontman? He is like a combination of Bruce Springsteen, David Lee Roth and Leonard Cohen with Jack Welch's business sense thrown in. He is the TOTAL package. Like I said, a no-brainer as far as i am concerned, but the guys kept dogging me about missing the Hives. 

One of the reasons I am a successful blogger is that I am willing to be honest. Some say even to a fault. So here goes: Even though we are all good friends, I think the reason Colin (and most of the other guys at Pencilstorm) make fun of Bon Jovi is jealousy. Seriously. For example, what has Watershed ever accomplished? Some spotty airplay on a radio station nobody listens to and a book with the title Hitless Wonder. Bet you can guess the ending of that one. Meanwhile, Bon Jovi has sold millions and millions of records, and somehow they suck? It doesn't take much fancy math to figure those numbers don't add up. I mean, I like some Watershed songs, too, but.... Just sayin'.

Anyway, I wished the guys well on the ride to Cleveland. Meanwhile, I was stoked to get my rock on here in CBUS.

One of the many things I love about Bon Jovi is the band's professionalism. Jon BonJovi considers himself a CEO, and at exactly 9:15 the lights dimmed and the show was off to a roaring, punctual start. Opening with the classic "You Give Love a Bad Name," Jon was working the crowd like a master, with Tico Torres holding down a solid beat behind him. Richie Sambora, who never gets his due, was shredding as usual,  showing why he is part of one of the greatest duos in rock history. I love the Stones, but Jaggar/Richards have nothing on Bon Jovi/Sambora. At the very least, we can call it a draw. Just sayin'.

This is my third Bon Jovi show and unlike other hard rock bands (AC/DC) I have noticed  that they always have clear sound and never play so loud that you cannot carry on a conversation with the person next to you. In fact, most the people in our section were chatting throughout the show, which gives the whole event more of a community feeling, if you ask me. I only went to one Dead show (I was in college; don't remember much; long story!) but I imagine it was the same kind of vibe.

Anyway, in the interest of full disclosure, I was extra happy for the reasonable volume, as I had brought a special friend to the show with me. Actually, this was my first "date" since my divorce from Kim last year. It was nice to be able to give someone the expert perspective without having to scream in her ear. 

Earlier in the week, I happened to mention on Match.com that I would be reviewing the Bon Jovi show and she responded saying she would love to ride shotgun. When we arrived at the venue, I got the feeling that she was sorta disappointed in our seats. There was also some confusion about whether or not I had mentioned a backstage press pass online. I'm pretty sure I didn't post anything about that. But as a writer, I write lots of things and can't always remember. 

Still, my date seemed to be having a good time, and after a couple big Yuengling Lights I was really getting into the flow of the show. After a bunch more rockers — most not from Slippery When Wet, but they did play "Runaway" — they settled into a sexy groove for the classic ballad "I'll Be There For You."  Now maybe it was the beer talking, or the fact that this was the song that Kim and I did our first dance to at our wedding, but I was suddenly feeling nostalgic. What was Kim doing now? Do you think she ever thinks of me when she hears Bon Jovi? THAT is the power of Bon Jovi.

Then a terrifying thought hit me: What if she is here, right now? With her new boyfriend, Russ? At this point I decided it was probably best to go. Besides, it was getting late and with the show being on a Sunday night, I had to get up for work in the morning anyway. Especially since i just got my old job back and didn't want to screw up again. I told my date and she asked if I would mind If she stayed.  She really wanted to hear "Livin' on a Prayer." I couldn't blame her, it is a classic. One of the guys a couple seats down said he would be happy to give her a lift home if I bought them each a couple more beers. ($18.50 — ouch!). Still, she said it was OK for me to go and she understood about my divorce from Kim and everything and that she would be all right. So I headed home, after a quick stop at Jimmy John's, of course.

Still, at the end of the day, it was a pretty good night. My first date since my divorce from Kim, my first review for Pencilstorm and a kick ass Bon Jovi concert to bring it all together. Thanks for reading this far. — Jeff

Jeff Hassler is recently divorced and writes for Pencilstorm. He can be reached at jeffwonthassleru@gmail.com

Click here for the entire setlist from the show

Ok, Jeff here again. I couldn't sleep for some reason. Decided to post this video in case anybody cared.