Bon Jovi Deliver Classic Set at New Orleans Jazz Fest 2011
Two days after Bon Jovi announced that guitarist Richie Sambora would take a break, allegedly to return to rehab, the group started a new tour by headlining at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Saturday (April 30).
And the veteran band did so without missing a beat. Filling in for Sambora was the extremely proficient Phil "X" Xenidis, who comes complete with his own set of rock star hair and great moves, though his playing excludes Sambora's nuanced, often bluesy touch.
In what is considered blazing heat anywhere but New Orleans, Bon Jovi took the stage around 5 p.m. with the lesser known 'Blood on Blood' before starting the non-stop hit machine with the very next song, 'You Give Love A Bad Name,' segueing into 'Born to Be My Baby.'
They kept the tempo upbeat throughout, knocking out one arena-rock anthem after the next with a polished precision.
Not that Jon Bon Jovi -- dressed in a black sleeveless vest that became increasingly unsnapped as the show wore on -- needs an apologist, but critics have seldom given him the credit he deserves as a tremendously compelling and commanding frontman who has only gotten better with age. Like U2's Bono or Bruce Springsteen, he works the crowd ceaselessly, constantly taking their collective pulse to see how to take them higher. And while some of the rock star moves may seem rote, the sheer amount of work he puts into making sure the fans have fun deserves far more respect than he's gotten.
But achieving longevity has its own reward, especially when it's been done on the nearly unparalleled worldwide level of success that Bon Jovi has attained and almost all of the groups born out of the same hairband movement of the mid-'80s have long faded away or grown bald.