© George Pennock
Photos by George Pennock
Live Gig Review by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Richie Sambora singer songwriter, guitarist and for many years Jons right hand man in Bon Jovi. A turbulent breakup between the two parties in recent years has seen Richie exit the Jovi camp. The reason and explanation totally different from both parties. Richie has therefore embarked on a solo tour actively promoting his solo back catalogue along with choice cuts from the multi platinum Jovi musical legacy. Rolling into Belfast’s historic Ulster Hall venue which was actually my third Richie date on the current tour. Live reports have been glowing and there was a keen sense of anticipation from the Belfast gig goers who hadn’t witnessed Richie play here since the Noo Jersey tour by Bon Jovi back in the eighties.
Like many other dates on the tour, Richie had secured local acts and artists to play as a support. Certainly a great opportunity for the new artists of today. However my media duties prior to the show ensured by running late that I was unfortunately unable to witness the supports. Arriving just before the set started I was actually surprised judging the caliber of Mr Sambora that the show itself was not a complete sellout-close but no cigar as they say. The opening few songs followed the same pattern of the other shows that I had seen recently. Two tracks from the latest album “Every Road Leads Home to You” and “Nowadays“. The former in particular ensuring an instantaneous audience sing a long reaction. Introducing “Lay Your Hands On Me” a Jovi anthem maintained the high level of crowd participation. The playing of Jovi songs earned a mixed response and reaction from gig goers. Some like I view them as a major part of Richie’s musical legacy which he co wrote and should rightfully pay homage to. Others view them as being a distraction from the solo musical career that he is now embarking on. However during the set they obviously generated the best audience reaction-and it has to be said that different interpretations breathed new life into the old standards. Playing and if rumors are to be believed currently romancing in his band is young singer/guitarist Orianthi. With an extensive musical pedigree which belie her years most of the male attention was focused stage right this evening. Purely for her musical ability you understand…
Utilizing a varied and constantly evolving spontaneous set this show could have come across as disjointed. However free form improvisation actually maintained the sets freshness as well as keeping the members of his band on their toes. Between songs Richie opened his heart a little to the audience into events of recent years in his life. Orianthi herself far from being a foil to Richie was also given opportunity to shine both on vocals from her own song “You Don’t Know” which was simply beautiful. Orianthis exquisite and technical guitar playing was also given its own solo spot in the set. Certainly hearing this song this in particular has motivated this particular reviewer to actively seek out her back catalogue. Jovi classic’s continued to be welcomed like old friends through “Ill be There for You”right through to what had usually on other dates constitute the set closer “Wanted dead or Alive”
At this point I was questioning the absence in the set of “Livin On A Prayer” which had been my personal particular highlight of the previous shows that I had seen. However I was not left disappointed. The classic song had new emotion and passion serenely breathed into it through a beautiful dual vocal interplay between Richie and Sambora. This then moved through a reggae based rhythm into another Bon Jovi song “These Days“. Certainly Richie seemed to be enjoying playing live, he seemed passionate and played even the old songs with a vigor and fresh energy.
When we chatted with Richie and Orianthi after the show at their out of town hotel both artists were very forthcoming regarding how much they had enjoyed their trip to Belfast. Both also independently vowed to return soon. I concluded that it wasn’t just a throw away audience stage quote. Summing up I would definitely recommend seeing the current tour, and that Richie seems to have reveled in his new found personal and creative musical freedom. He seems to be enjoying playing music again which certainly wasn’t the case in his previous employment.
Richie Sambora tours Europe across June and July 2014.
Dates are as follows:
JUNE 13 – UK, LONDON – ISLINGTON ACADEMY headline
JUNE 15 – UK, DONINGTON – DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL
JUNE 17 – HOLLAND, TILBURG – O13 headline
JUNE 19 – GERMANY, STUTTGART – BEETHOVENSAAL headline
JUNE 20 – GERMANY, MUNICH – KESSELHAUS headline
JUNE 22 – GERMANY, BERLIN – HUXLEYS headline
JUNE 24 – GERMANY, COLOGNE – E-WERK headline
JUNE 26 – FRANCE, PARIS – BATACLAN headline
JUNE 28 – UK, LONDON – CALLING FESTIVAL – CLAPHAM COMMON
JUNE 30 – IRELAND, DUBLIN – OLYMPIA headline
JULY 1 – UK, BELFAST – ULSTER HALL headline
JULY 3 – UK, GLASGOW – ABC headline