Time more than kind to Bon Jovi
Jon Bon Jovi performs "You Give Love a Bad Name" at the Marcus Amphitheater on Thursday, the opening night of Summerfest.
Band keeps to a winning formula and delivers it during a sold-out Summerfest performance
Bon Jovi seems to have found the formula for rock band longevity: hit songs, new music that doesn't stink and a fervent fan base.
Sex appeal doesn't hurt, either.
Not many 26-year-old bands fronted by 47-year-old singers can continue to sell out large venues. That's what makes Bon Jovi an anomaly. Even Jon Bon Jovi noted at Thursday's sold-out concert at the Marcus Amphitheater that his eponymous group is the last band standing of its era.
He's right. Most of Bon Jovi's '80s contemporaries are no longer playing, and if they are, it's at county fairs, not headlining the opening night of Summerfest.
Much of the band's continued success lies in the throat, hair and hips of Jon Bon Jovi, who doesn't look like a guy who'll be getting mail from AARP in a couple years.
Opening with the 1960s Dave Clark Five hit "Glad All Over," the band segued into "You Give Love a Bad Name" with Jon Bon Jovi picking out a fan's camcorder to shoot a few seconds of video.
Wearing tight black jeans and a black shirt with sleeves rolled up to show off his biceps, Jon Bon Jovi strutted, swiveled, sauntered and shimmied his way across the stage, stopping only to say, "Justin Timberlake, eat your heart out."
Unlike many aging rockers, he has weathered the years well. No paunch, no bald patch, hair to die for - and he can still hit the high notes of "Livin' on a Prayer."
The band has no new album to plug and isn't touring in 2009, and Jon Bon Jovi told the crowd the Summerfest gig was only the third of four planned concerts this year because they couldn't pass up playing here.
Guitarist Richie Sambora sang yet another No. 1 hit, "I'll Be There for You," and showed off his ax skills on an extended solo. But Jon Bon Jovi was clearly the reason why much of the crowd - which skewed heavily female - bought tickets.
Following "Have A Nice Day" and "Keep the Faith" the band launched into "Bad Medicine," which briefly morphed into the Isley Brothers' "Shout." Jon Bon Jovi jumped into the audience, surrounded by ecstatic women trying to snap his picture with their cell phones.
After returning to the stage he said "I'm getting too old for this."
No, you're not.
Opening for Bon Jovi was Philadelphia rock band Soraia, whose last album, "Shed the Skin" featured Sambora guesting on guitar. Singer Sue Mansour fronted the band with a voice and stage persona reminiscent of Janis Joplin.