“Clothing is optional tonight, girls. You show me yours I”ll show you mine.” So said the prince of New Jersey last Sunday night at his first of two “One Wild Night” tour stops at Detroit”s DTE Energy Music Center. As far as this reporter could see, Jon Bon Jovi”s offer was left on the table. It isn”t the “80s anymore, Jon, despite your denim jacket.

Paul Wong
Jon and the boys give concerts a good name during their stop in Detroit.<br><br>Courtesy of UNI/Island

In just over than two hours, Bon Jovi and crew “rocked a million faces” right out of their seats. From A to ZZ, the rows were packed with rockers original “Runaway” fanatics, the younger Crush-ed generation and everything American rock in-between.

Though the crowd was a bit eclectic, the music was anything but. Bon Jovi”s near-trademarked workingman pop-metal sound prevailed as expected throughout.

The new tunes, the classic anthems yes, even the epic, 15-minutes ballads told tales of hardship, the tough life and broken love, with nothing to run to for solace but a trusty guitar. Whether 13 years old with nothing yet under their belts, or 40-something with grandkids and grayer hair, somehow everyone at DTE knew exactly what Bon Jovi was talking about.

As an unexpected extra, guitarist Richie Sambora took the spotlight midway through the set list (a birthday present from Jon perhaps?) and ripped into the title track of his 1991 solo debut, “Stranger in this Town.” Highly talented, and even more highly underrated, Sambora”s mastership of the six-stringed instrument was clear, and was a much-appreciated interlude.

“Livin” on a Prayer,” “Bad Medicine,” “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Lay Your Hands on Me” were just a few among the greatest hits performed. A true compilation of Top 40 favorites, the set list was definitely “satisfaction guaranteed.”

As noticed on several recent appearances, including VH1″s Storytellers, Bon Jovi”s East-coast rock has softened a bit tempo-wise from his big-haired “80s peak. Most well-known tunes performed that night seemed just a bit on the slow side, and head-banging fans looked more as if they were urging the band on, rather than finding the groove.

Not that drummer Tico Torres” timing is shot, or that of any of the band members. Bon Jovi”s talent and energy as an ensemble are still existent, still penetrating, and they still rock as great as they ever did. They”ve just got short hair now, they”ve had their fallouts and they”ve made their recoveries. They”re “not old just older.”

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