Bon Jovi opened the New Meadowlands stadium in New Jersey on Wednesday night (May. 26) for the first of four concerts there, introducing 55,000 fans to the future Super Bowl venue and treating them to more than two hours of hit songs spanning the group's entire career.
The show was the kick-off party for the venue, which dwarfs the now mostly demolished Giant's Stadium yards away in both size and scale. For Bon Jovi, it was yet another opportunity to play to a hometown crowd on a massive scale.
"To be at this place is every kid's wildest dream," said the band's leader and namesake Jon Bon Jovi in an interview with Billboard.com the day before the show as he surveyed the empty stadium from its highest peak. "To be in a band is every kid's wildest dream. To be in a band that makes a record is every kid's wildest dream. To be in a band that gets to a level that surpasses your heroes - its beyond comprehension."
"Southside or Bruce. Sinatra or Count Basie," he reflected. "Or anyone else that came out of here, set a high bar, a standard for our little state that has stood the test of time. I'm happy to be part of that patchwork."
This week's three New Meadowlands shows (the band will return to the venue again in July) mark the beginning of the latest leg of Bon Jovi's two year "The Circle World Tour" which includes a multi-night run at the 02 Arena in London, the Rock In Rio Festival in Madrid, Soldier Field in Chicago and other stadiums through North America this summer.
The set was heavy on the hits - including an encore of "Dry County," "Wanted Dead or Alive" and "Living on a Prayer." The band also closed the main set with a anthemic cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."
The New Meadowlands is not the first New Jersey venue that Bon Jovi has unlocked -- in 2007, the band did a 10-night run to open the Prudential Center in nearby Newark. But as Jon Bon Jovi prepared to play a seven song rehearsal in front of several hundred fans the night before the opening gig, he remained relaxed.
"If this were U2 or the Stones they would have been here for a month," he laughed. "I walk in the day before and count off four. That's the way it goes around here, always."