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Bon Jovi brings old and new to clean show at Consol

| Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, 12:15 a.m.

Bon Jovi may have made oldies fans impatient at times with the strong focus on newer and even unreleased material — often several songs in a row — but the band still rocked Consol Energy Center on Thursday night with a stop on the “Because We Can” tour.

Jon Bon Jovi — ever the handsome, charismatic, quintessential rock star — and his bandmates performed for two and a half hours with no opener, although the singer seemed more reserved than at previous years' shows. As the Bon Jovi frontman put it, he had a big-time pocket “with nothing to do but be right here,” playing song after song. Many of the songs gave fans a sneak preview of the upcoming “What About Now” album due for release on March 12. The new songs, including the tour's title track, contain some catchy melodies and lyrics, such as “That's What the Water Made Me,” a tribute to the band's New Jersey roots. But most fans come to concerts for the classics, which formed the minority of the set: six out of some two dozen songs.

The concert contained many moments of ‘80s rock nostalgia for us Generation Xers, who associate Bon Jovi music with our teen years. But to the band's credit, Bon Jovi didn't skip any of the very biggest classic hits, like “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin' on a Prayer,” which began and ended the concert, respectively. One of the most enjoyable moments in the rock concert industry comes from “Livin' on a Prayer” at a Bon Jovi concert, when during the chorus the crowd erupts into goosebump-inducing mania, with fans pumping their arms and shouting “Whoah-oh!” with the band's fighting anthem of 1987.

Judging by the audience's screams, the classics are everyone's favorite songs, regardless of age and generation.

The fact that we ‘80s kids could only claim about a quarter of this long concert as our generational music impresses us with Bon Jovi's three-decade longevity.

One of Bon Jovi's strengths in live performances is the band's classiness, and perhaps even an understated simplicity that comes without pyrotechnics, or much dancing and theatrical stuff. The show did offer some sophisticated lighting effects and a flying hexagon wall towers that moved up and down and displayed images, including one of the Pittsburgh skyline. Some rock stars throw out regular F-bombs and other vulgarities, but Bon Jovi provides hard-rocking yet clean fun that could include your child if you can't find a sitter.

The show's stage setup — a multilayered semicircle, backed by the moving hexagonal wall pieces — provided a visual treat for most of the audience, yet all but ruined the show for the audience members who were sitting behind the stage. Much of the time, the wall blocked their view, and they saw band members mostly from the back. Hopefully, these patrons got cheaper seats. This kind of stage would have worked much better if part of Consol were blocked out, so that everyone could have a frontal view and see the stage action.

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