Bon Jovi - City Of Manchester Stadium - 4.6.06

If anything cemented Bon Jovi's position as relics from the stoneage it was that fact that a cover of Status Quo's "Rocking Over The World" two songs into the set created a big a reaction as their own songs. It was a track that Coldplay had pulled off during their performance at Live 8. Still when "You Give Love A Bad Name" kicks in you're reminded that past the dodgy poodle haircuts and that unforgiveable period in the 90s where they wrote ballads for movies that Bryan Adams was too busy for, Bon Jovi have a formidable back catalogue.

"1982, a kid in New Jersey barges into a radio station and tells the DJ in 3 minutes 33 seconds you'll have witnessed the birth of a rock'n'roll star. That song is Runaway, that star is Jon Bon Jovi". It's the sort of overblown statement that Bono, Liam Gallagher and Johnny Borrell would blurt out before launching a vitriolic attack about the state of modern music but with Bon Jovi this overblown arrogance almost seems endearing. Bon Jovi have always done things big - the big hair, the big girls blouses and the big tunes - and now a few years later thank god all that's left is the big tunes. Jon Bon Jovi is dressed as an American GI proving the myth that all girls like a man in uniform. "Story Of My Life" sees Jon Bon Jovi himself greeting the specially selected members of the audience who have won competitions to join the band onstage, but more interestingly amongst the sea of denim and leather that stands between us and the stage the supposed elder stateman of Mancunian cool has come along to watch the band. Yes, the man known as Antony wilson who signed Joy Division and The Happy Mondays in his career and perhaps more tellingly The Darkness played his annual In The City music showcase a number of years back before they went on to be the biggest band in the world for 12 months.

Unlike many bands on the nostalgia circuit Bon Jovi's current material is more than a match for the old classics, it's worth noting though that the aforemention ballads from the 90s have wisely been given the wide birth and slung in Room 101. "Have A Nice day", the recent single and not a Stereophonics cover, is one of the best songs the band have ever written as is "It's Alright". "I'll Be There For You" sees Richie Samborra take centre stage in a song that steals directly from The Beatles "Don't Let Me Down".

"It's My Life", "You Give Love A Bad Name" and "Bad Medicine", the latter with an abridged version of Lulu's "Shout" tagged on the end, are what most of the middle aged audience are here for and they certainly don't disappoint. And after years of the rock scene staring at their navals it seems bands are looking to classic rock bands like Bon Jovi for those big cheesy synth moments, Lostprophets being one such band who admit that recently their material has been influenced by the band from New Jersey.

Every time Bon Jovi come to Manchester it's an event and by swapping their allegiance from Manchester United ground to Manchester City certainly didnt dampen the atmosphere as this surely will go done as one of their finest ever gigs

Alex McCann
Photos: Shirlaine Forrest

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