Bon Jovi came, performed, and, at least for the first half, practically dominated the first night of the HullabaLOU festival at Churchill Downs.
Bon Jovi took to the stage and opened with Lost Highway, getting the fans up and out of their seats and singing along, at least on they hey hey parts.
Following Lost Highway was a slew of the band's biggest hits from their 25 year career, including tried-and-true crowd pleasers like You Give Love a Bad Name and It's My Life. A personal favorite came during Bad Medicine, which also included renditions of Pretty Woman and Shout, all performed to maximum effect. Even some non-singles, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead and We Got It Going On, kept the crowd moving and singing.
Lead singer Jon Bon Jovi worked the crowd, raising his hands, pointing the microphone at them, and doing anything he could to keep them in the show. It worked. Guitarist Richie Sambora shredded as if it was 1986 all over again, and drummer Tico Torres, bassist Hugh McDonald, and pianist David Bryan provided solid foundations to the rock and roll sonic boom of the evening.
The second half of the evening found everyone - Bon Jovi and fans - seemingly running out of steam. This provided a few hits and misses as a result. Sambora's lead vocal on Lay Your Hands on Me was passable but not necessarily entertaining. (Look on YouTube for his performances of I'll Be There For You. It's much better suited for his bluesy voice.) The ballad You Want to Make a Memory felt as if it was going too fast in tempo. By this point, though, quite a few members of the audience was sitting down, apparently exhausted from the first half.
Bon Jovi did somehow find some gas during the encore, which consisted of Livin on a Prayer and Wanted Dead or Alive. The crowd was on its feet and dancing to both, although special guest Dierks Bentley seemed off key on the latter song.
Despite any missteps during the show, Bon Jovi owned the first night of HullabaLOU. Maybe if they moved some of the early songs to the end of the show, they could own the crowd a little more, too.
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(Image from bonjovi.com)