Although a concert venue no longer omitted by major artists, Romania still has a lot of catching up to do on what concerns the legends of the last decades. Bon Jovi’s arrival to Bucharest was therefore long overdue, but it was sure worth the wait, since the American band brought everything that one would expect from performers of their caliber and much, much more! Over 50,000 attended the July 10 concert and sang together to the likes of “Bed of Roses”, “Always” or “Livin’ on a Prayer” in front of what once used to be a symbol of communism, but now became a symbol of freedom, the People’s House.

The opening acts, a surprising choice

The concert started on schedule, at 20.00, after the two opening bands, Quantiq and Stillborn prepared the audience for what was to become the biggest concert of the year. The two local bands were selected after a national competition, which also included a third, Oldgreen, that will perform next year, at Rock the City 2012. Of the two, Quantiq seemed the least appropriate for the “friendly” kind of rock that Bon Jovi are playing. The band, although very talented and with potential proved too dark for the circumstances and more fitting for festivals as Artmania, for example.

Stillborn, on the other hand, rocked their way into the hearts of classical rock lovers, as, in spite of the fact that the band members appeared to be in their twenties, what they performed was good old-fashioned ‘70s/’80s rock. Lead singer Aura Pohoata has the perfect voice in that sense, a modern mixture between Heart’s soulful and laidback Ann Wilson and Guano Apes’s enraged vocals of Sandra Nasic.

Bon Jovi brought the heat levels even higher through a three-hour marathon

Bon Jovi took to the stage right on time, right before the audience became too anxious. There were people there who had come early in the morning just so as to get closer to the band, in spite of the scorching heat (there were over 40 degrees Celsius at the location, and the asphalt only made the situation worse). The band started their performance with Raise Your Hands and You Give Love a Bad Name quickly followed. Nobody really cared about the heat anymore since Jon Bon Jovi promised to bring the temperature even higher, a promise that he and his band stuck to until the end.

“We Weren’t Born to Follow”, single of the band’s most recent album, The Circle, came next, with images of modern heroes as Barack Obama, Jimi Hendrix, Martin Luther King or Bob Dylan, as well as stills with tanks from the Tiananmen square in Beijing. The band’s choice of mixing politics with rock ‘n’ roll seemed rather unfitting to some, but did not last too long in order to raise controversy. What they however brought to Romania was America, and a bit of its culture and most prominent figures through an almost three-hour long spectacle.

Newer, as well as more consecrated songs were part of the setlist, as “Lost Highway”, “It’s My Life”, “Bed of Roses”, “Livin’ On A Prayer”, “Keep the Faith”, “Runaway” (their breakthough single), “Always”, “These Days”, “Wanted Dead or Alive” and an intricate cover after “Twist and Shout”.

Richie Sambora made a well-awaited appearance

Guitarist Richie Sambora was also in the spotlight during the concert, since one day later, he was celebrating his birthday, a fact marked by fans through a “Happy Birthday” moment. The moment was even more emotional since he recently checked into rehab and his arrival to Romania was uncertain for a long time.

The most memorable part of the evening came however when Jon Bon Jovi took a Romanian flag from the audience and put it on his back, which brought his “brothers and sisters”, as he addressed the public, into ecstasy. Speaking of the audience, there were people in their twenties to 30/40-somethings (even 50), who in spite of their daily jobs, as perhaps holders of key positions in certain companies, acted out as teenagers watching their idols perform for the first time.

Wearing a large smile, black leather pants and a blue shirt, Jon Bon Jovi addressed the audience modestly, thanking them for the patience that they waited for the band’s long overdue performance here. The 49-year-old legend seemed untouched by time, as he looked very similarly to the image that he sported twenty years ago, when “Always” was released. He entertained tens of thousands of people, who definitely got their tickets’ worth through this concert.

The concert in Romania is part of the 135 shows held in The Circle Tour, started in February 2010, including 30 countries. The tour promotes the band’s most recent album, “The Circle”, released in 2009. It was organized locally by East European Entertainment & D&D Entertainment in collaboration with Marcel Avram and Star Management.

With a history of 27 years, Bon Jovi is one of the best known and consistent American rock (or so-called “glam rock”) bands in history. Bon Jovi means lead singer Jon Bon Jovi (John Francis Bongiovi, Jr.), guitarist Richie Sambora, keyboardist David Bryan, drummer Tico Torres, as well as current bassist Hugh McDonald, a line-up that has not suffered important changes throughout time.

Some videos from the concert and loaded on Youtube by fans:



Photo by Florin Vitzman, courtesy of Star Management.

Corina Dumitrescu