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To say I was excited about this show would be an understatement. Like most kids who grew up in the 80s, Bon Jovi were a huge part of my upbringing. I still rate Slippery When Wet as one of the best hard rock albums of all time because really, if you listen to it without judgement, it's top shelf all the way. A solid effort with huge choruses and great songwriting. Most importantly though, the guitar playing is flawless and that's all thanks to the almighty Richie Sambora. The solo to 'Wanted Dead Or Alive' is still one of my all time favourite guitar solos. In fact, if I died and came back to life as a guitar solo, the solo to 'Wanted Dead Or Alive' would be the solo I'd want to come back as. So on this night, I was all ready to rock out with not only Sambora, but also with his girlfriend, Orianthi, who I had never seen live before but am well versed in her shredding. Orianthi's incredible career so far which has been hugely impressive for a Aussie gal from a city where the odds are stacked against you. That's just how it is in Adelaide and she's gone on to make a huge name for herself so big congratulations to her.
Unfortunately, this show was not going to be the night that solidifies Sambora as a solo artist, since his departure from one of rock's biggest bands. Or maybe it did, if only to solidify why Bon Jovi parted ways with the virtuoso and continued filling stadiums without him. To be honest, I struggled coming to terms with this review and this is why it's been a week now where I feel I have come to the realisation of just what I witnessed on this Tuesday night.
Things started out alright as Sarah McLeod of The Superjesus put in the hard task of warming up the crowd with a bunch of solo acoustic jams. Whether she was singing barber shop quartets minus the barber shop and the quartet or smashing her way through stripped back versions of Superjesus classics, McLeod gave it her all and the small crowd welcomed her and showered her with cheers. She advised us all that we were in for a real treat with the Sambora show as she had seen it the night before and it rocked hard. Sadly, we will never know because what we got this night was something different entirely.
Coming on an hour late and looking disheveled as he made his way to the centre stage, Sambora seemed a little lost. Opening with the Bon Jovi classic, 'Living On A Prayer', it made perfect sense why Sambora co-wrote the songs but Jon sang them. His key and range was off. The crowd were just as confused as I think Sambora was. He tried to rile the punters up with a bad-ass attitude filled with really poorly delivered stage banter that included a bunch of swearing and nonsense but his at times sloppy playing and his walking off leaving Orianthi to just take the reigns seemed odd and so unprofessional. Compared to his tenure with Bon Jovi where he would pretty much nail everything perfectly, I spent most of the show just thinking to myself 'what is going on here?'. The lighting was bad, the mix was rough, the late start, and so forth. People were just done and were leaving, not even half an hour into his set. Ouch!
Orianthi was incredible though. She seemed to hold the show together and was the star of the night. She played like she was possessed by the guitar gods and delivered nothing but a solid shredding and note perfect solo work. She managed to single-handedly save any credibility this show had left by being a true professional and delivering a performance that really won the people over. While Sambora was obviously struggling, Orianthi took control and dished out her own classics like 'How Do You Sleep', 'Heaven Is This Hell' and 'What's It Gonna Be'. This show was really Orianthi's night to shine, as it just wasn't working for Sambora which was quite unfortunate.
The band played a whole bunch of pointless covers from the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Michael Jackson, and truth be told, a horrible version of Sonny & Cher's classic 'I Got You Babe', that actually came off more embarrassing than memorable. The fact Sambora only played one track off his 2014 solo album, Aftermath Of The Lowdown, was hugely disappointing because let's be real, the world doesn't need a Sambora sung cover of U2's 'When Love Comes To Town', especially when your solo album is actually pretty damn good.
By the end of the show, it was obvious that those who stayed until the end were hoping for some kind of shining light. A glimmer of hope that maybe they were wrong and Sambora would redeem himself with his encore of the Bon Jovi smash hit, 'Wanted Dead Or Alive'. Sadly, there was no saving this trainwreck, as the audience clearly had had enough. It really was just sad and quite depressing.
To be honest, I kind of felt really sorry for him. Here's a guy who was in one of the biggest rock bands of all time and here he was, reduced to playing to a very undersold Margaret Court Arena playing probably one of the worst shows of his career. We know he is capable of so much more and I hope this was just an off night but it felt like he had burned his bridges and it may take him a lot of work to come back from this.
I really wanted to love this show, I really did, but like those words I heard muttered by the people who stormed out mid-set, I too won't be back.
Livin' On A Prayer (Bon Jovi cover)
When Love Comes To Town (U2 cover) (with a snippet of "Bad Medicine")
Pride and Joy (Stevie Ray Vaughan cover)
Heaven In This Hell (Orianthi song)
Black or White (Michael Jackson cover)
Lay Your Hands On Me (Bon Jovi cover)
How Do You Sleep (Orianthi song)
Every Road Leads Home To You (Richie Sambora song)
What's It Gonna Be (Orianthi song)
I'll Be There For You (Bon Jovi cover)
According To You (Orianthi song)
I Got You Babe (Sonny & Cher cover)
Wanted Dead Or Alive (Bon Jovi cover) (with a snippet of "Bad Company"at the beginning)
SOURCE: YouTube (Fan footage)
Our RSO (Richie Sambora + Orianthi) photo gallery is available here:
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